When Jake Honing and David Rysdahl went to Daunt’s Albatross Motel in Montauk to film “Black Swell” back in May 2015, the motel’s owner had one request: “Don’t put the sign of the motel in there.”
Mr. Honing and Mr. Rysdahl understood why, of course. Being the setting of a short film about a man contemplating suicide might not be the best detail to put on a motel brochure.
Starring Richard Kind (“Spin City,” “A Serious Man,” “Inside Out”) and Mr. Rysdahl, who also wrote and produced the short, “Black Swell” was shot on one 15-hour day and turned into the nine-minute film that will join the Views from Long Island showcase at the Hamptons International Film Festival from October 6 to 10.
“We were looking for locations that were far removed from society, because [Kind’s character] wants a private suicide,” said Mr. Honig, the film’s director. “We were looking upstate, because it wouldn’t be too populated during the offseason.” They ultimately found what they were looking for in Montauk: “We liked the way it looked and how it felt eerie and beautiful.”
Mr. Rysdahl said the story arose from a trip home to Minnesota for Christmas some time ago, when he shared a beer with an old friend from high school, a man who he said is very similar to his character in the film: “a guy with a quiet, deep sadness.” He later dreamed that friend had committed suicide, which inspired him to write an early version of the story that he tried out with his improv group in New York City. He would make adjustments to the script over a four-month period, though he and Mr. Honig still feel the story could be something seen on stage.
“The script reads almost like a one-act play, and the way it’s staged is like a play,” Mr. Honig said. “The trick is to have it unfold in the way a movie would: Let the images and sound tell the story.”
“Suicide can be melodramatic or forced when covered in a movie,” Mr. Rysdahl said. “We wanted to make sure that everything the audience thinks is going to happen doesn’t happen. It’s more about missed connections and missed opportunities in life.”
Such a heavy topic requires a talented dramatic actor to carry the film. While Mr. Kind is most often associated with comedic roles, Mr. Honing and Mr. Rysdahl saw that he was up to the task.
“Richard is usually the straight man, or the funny man, but he’s very grounded in the movie,” Mr. Rysdahl said. “We loved his work in ‘A Serious Man,’ and we loved his grounded audition. His face is so interesting, because he has so much depth as an actor. He can really dig in.
“I’m fascinated by older people,” he continued. “People in their 20s make movies about themselves when nothing is really happening in their lives. I’ve been hanging out with older people since I was a kid, and they have so many interesting stories.”
“Black Swell” premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah back in January and has played at the Florida Film Festival, the Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, and the Sarasota Film Festival. Since the film was shot in Montauk, the filmmakers see their visit to HIFF as a homecoming of sorts. Regardless of where they visit, they’re enjoying the film festival circuit.
“Playing our movie in theaters of 200 people who want to talk about it after it’s over is so great,” Mr. Honig said. “I can’t wait to see how the Hamptons react to it.”
“The Hamptons is such an attractive place,” Mr. Rysdahl said. “I think it’s so different to see it in the offseason.”
“Black Swell” will be screened preceding the feature documentary “God Knows Where I Am” on Friday, October 7, at 5:45 p.m. at the East Hampton United Artists Theater and on Sunday, October 9, at 3 p.m. at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.