For the past eight years, an outfit called Narrow Bridge Films has been making inroads into indie movie-making. Narrow Bridge founder, actor, writer, producer, and Bayonne native Sam Platizky has deep local roots. He graduated from Bayonne’s Woodrow Wilson grammar school, Bayonne High School, and earned degrees in English and theater from New Jersey City University, where he applauds the “one-on-one” acting classes.
After college, he did some off-off Broadway plays and indie films. You might wonder why a guy with a strong background in theater who wants to be in films wouldn’t head out to L.A. “I do want to go eventually,” he says. “I’ve been to the West Coast a few times, but, by accident we formed a nice core group of people in Bayonne, Jersey City, and outlying areas. It’s hard to find a group this passionate, and if I went to L.A., I’d have to start all over.”
His loyalty to Bayonne extends to film locations, which have included his house, his friends’ houses, Hendricksons’ Corner, the Little Food Café, the Da Vinci Room, the Bayonne Museum, the Bayonne Bridge, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stations, and the town’s many parks.
The company prides itself on its Bayonne cred and wants to give back to the community. In the fall of 2015 it teamed up with Comic Book Fans United to host a charity art show at Manifest Comics.
Sam’s older brother Isaac is also on the Narrow Bridge team. “Our mother and father introduced us to film and theater at an early age,” Sam says. “We were avid watchers of movies and readers of books.
Sam, Isaac, and his father are all employed at NJCU, Sam’s alma mater. “They know what my real passion is and let me go on auditions,” Sam says. Their mother is in the childcare field.
Sam says he wasn’t inspired by any one play or movie when he was a kid. “We’d go to Broadway plays a lot, and we liked watching movies, but I never thought I’d make movies of my own,” he says. “I got into acting through a summer program at the JCC. I was in the chorus of Oliver and really liked it.”
His adult influences include directors Edgar Wright, Guillermo de Toro, and Steven Spielberg. Actors who made an impact on him include Hugh Jackman, Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman. “They have the ability to play completely different parts,” he says.
“I was writing scripts for a while, but I didn’t want to do anything with them,” Sam says. “They were basically real stories about my friends. There was nothing extraordinary about them, but if I took that friend thing and set it with zombies, it becomes something bigger and easier to film.”
Not surprisingly, among his favorite films are The Empire Strikes Back and The Avengers.
In 2010, Narrow Bridge made its first feature film, Blaming George Romero, a “zombie apocalypse” movie, which premiered at Frank Theatres and went on to the Bergenfield and Golden Door festivals. Its second film, Red Scare, was billed as a “zombie comedy set during World War II.”
Narrow Bridge was honored with the Gold Kahuna Award at the 2012 Honolulu Film Awards for Red Scare. The film also won the Silver Ace Award at the 2012 Las Vegas Film Festival and an honorable mention at the Mock Film Festival in Los Angeles.
In 2015, Narrow Bridge snagged the reigning Miss New Jersey International, Jenna Kildosher, to act in a number of its films.
Other ensemble members include William Farley and Dan Gregory.
At Narrow Bridge, there’s a lot of learning on the job. When Sam didn’t have a producer, he added that title to his many jobs, which also included editor.
The Laughs Keep Coming
In the spring of 2016, Narrow Bridge premiered Summer Cabin, a comedy starring a roster of Bayonne natives and shown at Frank Theatres. Actors included Sam, his brother Isaac, Dan Gregory, William Farley, and Jenna Kildosher.
Summer Cabin was shown at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre for the Golden Door Film Festival, where it was nominated for best local film. The previous year the company won for The Devil You Know, which won second place for Horror Comedy Shorts at the 2015 Horror Hotel Film Festival in Ohio and was an official selection of the Fantasmagorical Film Festival.
Summer Cabin, later titled Cabin of Errors, was also screened at the New York Film Festival in October 2016. It was an official selection of the 2017 Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase, and won Best Feature Film at the 2017 Laugh or Die Film Festival. After attending the 2016 American Film Market in Santa Monica, Narrow Bridge secured a distribution deal for Cabin of Errors with Summer Hill Films.
Yellow Scare, the group’s fourth film, a comedy with musical numbers set during World War II, was shot in the spring of 2016 and went into post-production in the fall of that year. “We got help and support from the City of Bayonne, especially Mayor Davis and Pete Amadeo and businesses like Hendrickson’s,” Platizky says.
This film, he says, reflects his appreciation for Mel Brooks’s sense of humor.
Short films include “Click Send,” “Cupid’s First Day,” “The Girls in the Basement,” and “The Last Rehearsal of the Dangerous Kitten.” The feature Monster Mash is also in the works.
Narrow Bridge has a web series titled Lost and Found. “The web series was a creatively rewarding collaborative effort, but we don’t really have the resources to make a web series on Netflix,” Sam says.
Stars in Their Eyes
“I’d like us to get to the point where we’re out there in the world,” Sam says. “I want people to see the work we’ve done and hire us for other things to propel our careers forward. We’re getting better in terms of quality. We want to be seen on Netflix and Amazon Prime.”
But Bayonne will always be in his blood. “I have a sense of hometown pride,” he says. “I love the town, and not everybody loves their hometowns, especially in New Jersey. I love the businesses, the food, and the support we get.”—Kate Rounds.