Garden City resident and budding actor Peter Sansky-Traficanti has had more roles in films than he has had birthdays.
The young thespian will turn 9 in August, but he has already appeared in 10 films, including his latest role as the lead in a 13-minute silent film titled “Time Travel Boy,” which made its big screen debut Wednesday at the Long Island International Film Expo in Bellmore.
Peter arrived at the screening wearing a blue “Time Travel Boy” T-shirt, and toting a folder that contained dozens of his own storyboards for films he was going to create. The storyboards included illustrations of characters Peter had imagined, complete with descriptions that included the characters’ heights in meters.
Denise Traficanti, Peter’s grandmother who is also an actress, said in addition to his roles in film, Peter has appeared in two commercials, several talent shows, at least a dozen print advertisements, a theatrical performance of “Miracle on 34th Street” and a “live art performance” at the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island.
When his grandmother began to talk about how he recently got his first kiss while shooting a film, a loquacious Peter could not hold his tongue.
“Do not mention that!” he said to his grandmother, before quickly easing up and jovially finishing the story about the kiss.
As the lead in “Time Travel Boy,” Peter uses a clock, infused with magic by a mustached magician, to travel to the past to deliver a birthday present to his deceased mother.
Out of the six filmmakers who worked on “Time Travel Boy,” four are 2009 graduates of the film program at LIU Post: director Alexander Monelli, assistant director Tim Kail, director of photography Matthew Wright and producer Brian Ariotti. Assistant cameraman Kevin Vogrin of Pennsylvania and JoAnne Harris, a New York City-based composer originally from Iowa, were the staff members who did not attend LIU.
“A lot of the children we were getting to come in and audition, they all looked kind of like Justin Bieber,” Monelli said. “They all had the blond-hair, blue-eyes look, and that just wasn’t what we were looking for.”
Monelli eventually found his lead when Peter’s grandmother replied to an online casting call. Peter’s spunk and his love of horror movies immediately charmed Monelli.
“He was real, he was authentic; he wasn’t sort of phony and practiced,” Monelli said.
They shot the film over four days — three in Scranton and one on Long Island — in October 2011, and it was completed in June using a scant $2,000 budget. Monelli said he was proud that his team was able to create a professional quality film working with so few resources.
“It’s a throwback to Charlie Chaplin and Charlie Brown, all of the classic styles of comedy and storytelling and filmmaking, and we tried to shoot it in more of a modern way,” Monelli said. “It’s something anyone could sit down, watch and understand whether you’re in New York or Mexico or Canada or Russia.”
After the filming was completed, Harris was brought on to compose the original score, a crucial component for a silent film. Her music has appeared in several ABC shows including “20/20,? “Good Morning America,” “What Would You Do?” and “Primetime.” As the most established member of the staff, Harris accepted what Monelli described as “a pay cut” to work on “Time Travel Boy.”
“I did not even think of the fact that there was no dialogue until afterwards, that’s how enraptured I was by the story,” one audience member commented during the question-and-answer session following the screening.
Monelli said he made the film free because he wants to give people every reason to watch it, and use it as a launching point to showcase the capabilities of his production staff.
One among that staff who had a particularly integral role was Ariotti, the producer, a Stony Brook resident who was raised in Mastic. Asked what that role was, Ariotti replied: “I was the person wrangling Peter a lot when he would go off on tangents.”