Following the film-festival success of 2019's Fire Island shot-and-set LGBTQ thriller "Last Ferry," one of its stars has gone behind the camera as director and co-writer of a quasi-sequel shooting there, a slasher movie titled, naturally, "Fire Island."
"It's only a sequel in that we're continuing the story of one of the main characters, Rafael," the killer played by filmmaker Myles Clohessy in "Last Ferry," and now portrayed by Jonathan Bennett, who played the love interest of Lindsay Lohan's character in "Mean Girls" (2004). "But this film has taken on kind of a life of its own," says Clohessy, 25, son of "Oz" and "Boardwalk Empire" regular Robert Clohessy, who plays NYPD Lt. Sid Gormley on "Blue Bloods" and a detective in his son's film. The cast also includes two memorable actors from "Gossip Girl": Robert John Burke (Bart Bass) and Connor Paolo (Eric van der Woodsen). Myles' older brother, Byron Clohessy, also has a part.
Currently in week two of a three-week shoot, the low-budget "Fire Island" is not related to an identically named, domestically unreleased 2019 drama by director Mimi Spiwak Harris. Production for this film uses locations including the Sunken Forest and the iconoclastic hotel the Belvedere Guest House for Men in Cherry Grove as the settings for serial murders being committed by a killer in a deer mask.
"Deer play a central theme in the film," says Myles Clohessy. "Deer are all over the island. You get ticks from them everywhere you go — it's like a nightly ritual to de-tick yourself," he adds, with relative good humor. The deer "come right up to you and you're not supposed to pet them, but they literally come right up to you because they're so used to humans at this point. And you often run into them at night, so they really add to the horror of the film — the sounds they make are very creepy, so it's a cool aspect we've been able to add."
Recalls dad Robert, 62, "One night I'm coming back" to the Belvedere, which the production bought out for three weeks both to shoot in and to house the cast and crew, "and the only light on is at the top of the hotel. A deer literally ran into me — nearly gave me a heart attack!" he says, chuckling. "It's just kind of really spooky there. I'm sure it's different in the summertime when everybody's out and they're partying, it's more lit up and it's sunny all the time. But now it's just really damp, rainy, misty and spooky."
Robert Clohessy also is one of the investors in the film. "It's my son, you know, and I had the money and I'm up in age, I don't have any debt anymore," he explains. "So I see it like he's going to graduate school [for filmmaking] for a couple of years."
Myles Clohessy had majored in theater and performance at SUNY Purchase, graduating in 2016, and became a fitness model with the major agency Wilhelmina. He made his TV-series debut in an episode of "Blue Bloods" and has appeared in "Quantico," "The Blacklist," "Bull" and other shows, and in movies including "Honor Amongst Men" (2018). Raised in West Cornwall, Connecticut, he married his high school sweetheart Jhessica Arango in September 2019.
Shooting on Fire Island, which required federal permits for its national seashore and forest, "is a pain," Clohessy says. "Every single piece of equipment and food and anything you need, you have to ship from the mainland." But it was worth it, he quickly adds, to not have to substitute another location for this distinctive setting. "We wanted to keep it authentic because people that live out here and visit out here, they'll know the difference."