WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- New Rochelle native John Palomino is screening his first film, "Man of the House," at the Pelham Picture House Saturday, May 6.
The short movie was filmed in and around New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, with nods to Mamaroneck, to mirror exactly what happened to him 24 years ago when his father, a New Rochelle firefighter, committed suicide, leaving behind him, then age six, and his one-year-old sister.
"The script and casting were important, but the areas we shot in were just as important or even more so," explained Palomino. "I wanted the locations to be authentic to the story."
The story, told from the child's perspective, was written five years ago but Palomino said it took him a while to be "ready" to bring it to life on screen. After his dad's death, he admits he had a tough upbringing and a hard time dealing with life.
Which is why creating something that hopefully helps others is a big part of his movie's mission.
"People need support and I feel I have a moral responsibility to do what I can to educate, inform and comfort," said the first-time filmmaker.
"In many ways, I've become a huge advocate for suicide prevention and I've realized more and more that it's still a serious issue that a lot of people tend to ignore and are still uncomfortable speaking about."
He said doing the film -- he wrote and directed it and also plays his father -- was important for him as part of his own healing process.
In fact, he spent last summer in Colombia, where his father was from, to meet his dad's family for the first time. Being the filmmaker he is, he went with friends who helped him record it for a documentary he hopes to produce next year. The whole experience, he said -- the South American visit plus his work with "Man of the House" -- has helped him learn about a dad he never knew.
The Picture House event, held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will also include a post-movie conversation with local suicide prevention agencies such as NAMI Westchester (National Alliance on Mental Illness) as well as a Q & A with the cast/crew, three of which have also had suicides in their family. More information HERE .
The Picture House is at 175 Wolfs Lane, Pelham, (914) 738-7337, www.thepicturehouse.org/ .