By: Christopher Kazarian
INT. CALFEE HOUSEHOLD - THANKSGIVING EVENING (1986)
Arthur D. Calfee, his wife Jane (Booje), and their extended family have just finished Thanksgiving dinner. With stomachs full, the group starts acting out impromptu scenes as a way to entertain one another. A wide-eyed 9-year-old Davidson O. Calfee joins in.
INT. QUAHOG REPUBLIC DIVE BAR - WEDNESDAY EVENING (2011)
Director Jason J. DiMare of Wareham stands behind a commercial-grade Sony digital camera perched on top of a tripod.
He hits “record” as Davidson Calfee, now in his early 30s, is seated across from Anthony Rose of Weymouth at a circular table near the picture windows of the Quahog Republic Dive Bar on Spring Bars Road.
The pair start conversing—Mr. Rose playing the role of Randy trying to convince Davidson Calfee playing the role of Dillon Brody that Dillon’s girlfriend Mikenna (Nicole Saquet of Attleboro) is being hit on by another woman, Sue (Jennifer Tausevich of Weymouth), while at a club that night.
The scene was being filmed this past Wednesday for the independent comedy “The Single Life,” a low-budget feature that is being shot from Boston to Wareham to Cape Cod. This was the second time the cast and crew have been in
Falmouth; in August they shot another bar scene at the Beach House in North Falmouth.
The movie represents a high point in the burgeoning acting career of Mr. Calfee who landed his first role as a lead actor in “The Single Life” in June. By that point Mr. DiMare and his crew had already started filming scenes for the movie, but the first “Dillon Brody” did not work out as planned.
So Mr. DiMare placed a call to South Shore Casting, where casting director Jodi Purdy-Quinlan gave the director a handful of names that included Falmouth’s own Mr. Calfee.
“We had about seven or eight other auditions, and he [Mr. Calfee] was actually the last one,” Mr. DiMare said. “When we talked to him and met him, he just had this charisma about him and he had what we were looking for. It hit us in the face, and we said, ‘We want this guy. We need this guy.”
It represented a major achievement for someone whose initial foray into acting began at home with his family during Thanksgiving Day parties.
A 1996 graduate of Falmouth High School, Mr. Calfee eventually strayed away from the more creative, graduating from Springfield College in 2000 with a degree in recreation management. By 2005 he had started working for his father’s insurance company, Arthur D. Calfee Insurance Agency, where he currently serves as vice president.
But as the film industry began making its way to Massachusetts, bringing major motion pictures to this region, Mr. Calfee signed up with two local casting agencies in 2008.
His return to acting was less than glamorous. He was cast as an extra in the Kate Hudson film “Bride Wars” and in the Kevin James comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” both of which were shot in Massachusetts.
Still, he enjoyed the experience and became hungry for more, meeting people in the industry, which led him to starring roles in the short film “Workaholics Anonymous,” as well as a handful of commercials and other small projects.
As he continued to hone his craft, he said there was always the urge to act in a feature film, with the goal of being the lead.
When he was called in to audition for “The Single Life,” that was his chance. “And they actually said, ‘Yes,’ ” he laughed, admitting he had no nerves that day. “Did I feel pressure? No. Either they want me or they don’t. I get denied constantly,” he said.
Over the summer he juggled his day job with evening and weekend shoots on the film, something that has been thrilling.
“The Single Life” is a comedy that deals with the painful reality of breakups and how people respond to those situations. It revolves around Mr. Calfee’s character Dillon Brody who gets dumped by his girlfriend Mikenna, motivating him to attempt suicide by overdosing on pills.
Brody ends up in a coma, during which the film cuts to comedic flashbacks of previous breakups he has had with other girlfriends. “When he snaps out of it, he has a zest for life and wants to help people who are brokenhearted,” Mr. Calfee said.
At that point, Brody creates a dating service called The Single Life, setting up dates, many of which include his high school friends. “They are a disaster,” Mr. Calfee said.
The movie concludes with Brody’s company a failure, although he ends up finding love and happiness with Corrine (Jessenia Arias), a female friend he continually sees throughout the movie.
The underlying message of “The Single Life,” Mr. DiMare said, is that “the universe places people in our lives at the exact right moment and it is our job to notice it. Each and every single person has a purpose in our lives, whether good or bad.”
Mr. DiMare said the film has benefited from the talents of Mr. Calfee. “He brings such a positive attitude to the set,” he said. “He just has this aura of happiness surrounding him. He is really positive and he gets everyone excited.”
As far as his acting ability, Mr. DiMare said that Mr. Calfee has a believable quality about him that makes his character likable.
Along with landing the lead in the movie, Mr. Calfee serves as the associate producer as well as its editor. On Wednesday, Mr. Calfee was not only preparing for his scenes, but assisting with sound, mic’ing his fellow actors.
The scene was a flashback in which Brody is recalling the night at the bar when his friend Randy tells him that there is an odd chemistry between Brody’s girlfriend Mikenna and Sue, a lesbian.
While the film’s leads spent the first hour and a half shooting scenes at the table, local residents had a chance later that night to appear in “The Single Life,” during a dance segment filmed toward the back of the Quahog Republic.
Author T.M. (Ted) Murphy of Grand Avenue, Falmouth Heights, played one of those patrons, showing off his moves on the dance floor. “It is always good to see Falmouth artists doing their thing,” Mr. Murphy said, explaining why he showed up on Wednesday. “I came out to support Davidson... The great thing about Falmouth is we support one another.”
That support, Mr. Calfee said, has been evident wherever they have shot. “Everyone has been so nice and we’ve been meeting all sorts of great people from the Boston area, Wareham, Brockton, Marshfield and Cape Cod,” he said.
He estimated there is roughly three weeks left of filming. After that the goal is to submit it to large film festivals such as Sundance and smaller ones such as the Woods Hole Film Festival.
In the meantime Mr. Calfee has already lined up his next project, “617,” a short film that Mr. DiMare and his Big Whopper Films production company will be producing.
If there is a lesson to be learned from Mr. Calfee’s journey, it is that aspiring actors should look at every role as an opportunity, no matter how small. “People who want to break into the business, but don’t want to show up for shoots, that is a big mistake,” he said. “That is how you break into the industry and land more gigs.”
Check out Davidson and Chou Hood Productions scramble to write, set, light, act, edit & show in 48 Hours! Watch the finished product on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at the Kendall Square Cinema; 7 PM.