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Trumbull Actor, 47, Tackles First Movie Role — As A Ukrainian Mobster

A behind-the-scenes multi-layered 'Inception' shot as cast members in the role of Russian and Ukrainian mobsters pose for a photo during the production of a promotional video for the film. Photo Credit: Liz Heyel Mitchell
John Smith, of Trumbull, plays the male lead in "The Tutor," which is one of the stories in the upcoming Hat City Pictures film "Contrived." Photo Credit: Kevin McNair Photography
Area filmmaker Angel Rosa of Hat City Pictures in Danbury, in conjunction with Max Wine and Spirits on Mill Plain Road, will host a wine and beer class event to help raise production funds for the 90-minute feature film, "Contrived." Photo Credit: contributed
A file photo taken during the production of Hat City Pictures' short film, "Only Moment." Writer and director Angel Rosa of Danbury is in the center. Photo Credit: contributed

TRUMBULL, Conn. -- How does an actor get into the mind of a former Ukrainian mobster?

Trumbull resident John R. Smith Jr., who will be playing this lead role in "The Tutor"  -- a vignette in the upcoming feature film "Contrived" -- said it requires lots of time and research.

"I have to think about it from the mobster and cultural angle," Smith said.

The character Smith is playing -- Anatoly Danilenko -- is a former Ukrainian mafia enforcer.

"Contrived" is a horror-suspense film scheduled to be released in spring. Produced by Hat City Pictures in Danbury, it was written and directed by city resident Angel Rosa.

Rosa said the idea for "Contrived" came about as a result of his frustration with Hollywood film-making.

"I was driving through the Berkshire Shopping Center in Danbury one day in the fall of 2014 and I had a CD in my car stereo. It was by composer Bernard Herrmann," said Rosa, who is 47. "The theme for the film 'Vertigo' came on and I became overwhelmed and frustrated. My thought was that they just don't make movies like that anymore."

The main character in "Contrived," Tobias Werrick, is a manifestation of the filmmaker. "He is disheartened by the current state of Hollywood -- the lack of original content, the constant regurgitation of old plot lines and premises," Rosa said.

In "Contrived," Werrick attends a film festival and approaches the person of honor for the evening. "There is very obvious chemistry that takes place. He begins to lament to her his feelings about filmmaking," Rosa said. "She becomes his captive. He forces her to listen to stories that he believes would make good cinema."

While "Contrived" is Smith's first film gig, he has been acting for 20 years. Most recently, he was artistic consultant and co-producer of the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, which recently closed.

Smith said acting has been his passion since he was 9.

"I enjoy being able to get inside a character's head," Smith said. "To be an actor, you are curious about human nature, primarily about the inner workings of why people do things. Being in theater, you get an insight into psychology and sociology. You learn so much about why people do the things that they do."

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