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'Detour' takes Yonkers native's vision to silver screen
Yonkers native William Dickerson took a bit of a scenic route to success, but today, he celebrates the release of his new survival thriller, "Detour."
The movie follows Jackson Alder, who finds a rare situation he can't talk his way out of: being trapped inside his car by a mudslide. Ruling out rescue efforts, Alder tries to stay alive despite the odds.
The main man behind "Detour" is Dickerson, a 34-year-old filmmaker who spent his youth in Yonkers, attending elementary school at St. Joseph's Church in Bronxville before graduating from Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx.
"I got a hand-me-down Sony camcorder from my grandfather when I was in sixth grade," Dickerson told Newsday Westchester this week. "And I convinced my teachers in school to let me film my book reports; I don't know if this was out of laziness or out of inspiration."
He said he got more serious about movies as a student at College of the Holy Cross, where he not only double-majored in English and film, but also helped create the latter major as an undergraduate.
"They didn't have a film department, and I kind of started the first program there," he said. "So, I was working with professors from the theater department, the English department and the philosophy department to build a concentration."
Dickerson would later cast a Holy Cross grad, his long-time friend Neil Hopkins ("Skyline," "Lost"), as the lead in "Detour." The movie also stars Brea Grant, whose credits include "Heroes" and "Dexter."
Furthering his studies at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, Dickerson said he had a tough time working in film after earning his master of fine arts degree — largely due to the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike. But after the strike ended, he started working on several projects, including his screenwriting collaboration with Dwight Moody on the one that would become "Detour."
The indie movie is inspired by survival flicks, the do-it-yourself escapism of ABC's "MacGyver," and one of Dickerson's deepest fears.
"Probably if I could pick the worst way to die, it would be to be buried alive," he said. "And I know that story's been done before, but I said, 'You know what? Maybe we could put a new spin on it.'"
"Detour" premieres March 29 via a limited release that includes screenings at Manhattan's Cinema Village theater (22 E. 12th St., New York; 212-924-3363; www.cinemavillage.com). It will also be available on most on-demand platforms, including iTunes and Netflix. For more information, check out the movie's official website, www.detour-thefilm.com.