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Westport Photographer Draws On Father's Military Past In Making Indy Film

Jayson Byrd, a photographer who has shot everyone from Paul Newman to Bob Dylan to Edith Stapleton and Morris Carnovsky, has completed a full-length feature film in Fairfield County Connecticut called “Desolation Angels/Rise of the BOAS."
Jayson Byrd, a photographer who has shot everyone from Paul Newman to Bob Dylan to Edith Stapleton and Morris Carnovsky, has completed a full-length feature film in Fairfield County Connecticut called “Desolation Angels/Rise of the BOAS." Video Credit: NealSmithRocksVideos
The cast in part, from left, Tom Golden, Laurent Mullen, Neal Smith, Victor Mercado, Alex Ziwak, Ken Walsh, Jeff Saresky, John Gatto, Mike Ziniak, Tommy DeLaurentis and Alberto Lopez.
The cast in part, from left, Tom Golden, Laurent Mullen, Neal Smith, Victor Mercado, Alex Ziwak, Ken Walsh, Jeff Saresky, John Gatto, Mike Ziniak, Tommy DeLaurentis and Alberto Lopez. Photo Credit: contributed
A scene from Jayson Byrd's upcoming feature film “Desolation Angels/Rise of the BOAS."
A scene from Jayson Byrd's upcoming feature film “Desolation Angels/Rise of the BOAS." Photo Credit: contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. — In his new independent feature film, “Desolation Angels/Rise of the BOAS,” Westport photographer Jayson Byrd explores the question: “Are we are able to change our fate or is life predestined by the Gods?”

The two-hour black-and-white film, a Greek tragedy set in modern times, was shot in more than 30 communities, including Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk. Westport, Stratford and Shelton.

“This is the classic story of a man who tries to evade his destiny, but he runs directly back into it," Byrd said. “It's the story of desperate people trying to escape their predetermined destinies."

In the movie, a group of ex-military mercenaries is hired by the U.S. government to disrupt the relationship between the Russian Mob and the Mexican Cartel.

"Unfortunately for all involved, things don't go as planned," Byrd said.

Among the 40-plus actors in the film is Neal Smith, a Westport resident and the drummer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Alice Cooper.

Other Fairfield County actors in the film include Victor Mercado from Stratford, Ken Walsh and Jeff Saresky from Shelton, John Gatto from Bethel and Tommy DeLaurentis from Fairfield.

As far as how Byrd got the idea to create the film, he said his childhood played a large factor.

"I come from a military family," he said. "My father was an officer, and so I'd meet some of his friends from World War II and these were normal-looking guys.

"Having my father being VP of a gun company, as a kid I saw a lot of things were kind of weird and I never quite understood what was going on," Byrd said. "With that and my imagination, I put this together."

The movie is scheduled to be shown at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport before Jan. 15. Byrd also hopes to show it at film festivals throughout the United States.

One of the biggest challenges in making the film was financing it. "I raised [money] on Indiegogo and [used] my own money. Any money I made personally — every cent — went into production," said Byrd, who taught photography and filmmaking at Fairfield University.

“This is a major motion picture done with a $10,000 budget,” Byrd said in a recent phone interview.

According to Byrd, three years of shooting on location went into the production and virtually all of the performers, friends of Byrd’s, appeared for credit rather than a salary.

Byrd is a photographer for the Westport Playhouse and Music Theatre of Connecticut, as well as Shakespeare on the Sound in Rowayton, American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Darien Dinner Theater, Stamford Playhouse and Polka Dot Playhouse in Bridgeport.

In his career, Byrd has photographed many celebrities, including Lilly Palmer, James Earl Jones and Paul Newman as well as Bob Dylan, Dudley Moore, Jerry Stiller and Jean Stapleton.

To learn more about “Desolation Angeles/Rise of the BOAS," click here and here .

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