Boston Filmmaker's 'Radio Cape Code' released in theaters

May 22, 2008

Boston - Do what you love to do. That's been a guiding principle for Andrew Silver.

He obviously practices what he preaches.

The longtime Boston resident has, for years, mixed together two passions: business and filmmaking. His day job has him dealing in real estate, and every once in a while, he writes, produces and directs a film.

His newest, "Radio Cape Cod," which opens Friday at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, allowed him to get back to another interest. Silver did his undergraduate and masters work in oceanography and earth sciences at MIT (before earning a doctorate in Business Administration at Harvard). One of the plot strands his new film, the romantic drama "Radio Cape Cod," involves a team of oceanographers at Woods Hole.

Silver, who adapted his earlier dramatic films — "Return," "Next Door," "The Murderer" — from short stories or novels, again used a published book as a source for the newest.

"The initial idea came from reading a book called 'Black Apollo of Science' by Kenneth Manning, who was a professor of the history of science at MIT," says Silver.

The book included the story of an African American scientist who had a passion for marine biology

"That character morphed into the character of Sunday," says Silver.

He's referring to one of the lead characters in "Radio Cape Cod," a marine biologist at MIT (O.T. Fagbenle) who spends a few days at Woods Hole and falls for Jill (Tamzin Outhwaite), the older woman who meets him during one of her radio broadcasts.

They make up just one of the many couples going through all sorts of relationship ordeals — some positive, some messy — over the story's five-day time span.

Silver had already completed a first draft of the script a number of years ago when he met writer-actress Marta Rainer. His idea was to work with her on a different project, a story about students at MIT and Wellesley College.

"We didn't do that one," says Silver. "But some of those characters came into 'Radio Cape Cod.' You could say it was the child of 'Black Apollo of Science' and the MIT-Wellesley story."

The film features two members of the Silver family: the director's 17-year-old son Julian, who plays a lovelorn and confused teenager named Virgil, and Silver himself, as Clay, who happily welcomes his ex-wife scientist back to Woods Hole for a few days.

"Directing Julian was a pleasure, and there was some stress," says Silver, laughing. "I suppose it was like parenting."

Of his own appearance in the film he says, "The actor who was supposed to play him became unavailable. So I shortened the part, and played it myself. It wasn't difficult because there's so much autobiographical content in the movie. And I was very easy to direct — there was no one to argue with."

Silver isn't very surprised that filmmaking became a part of his life. His Harvard thesis was titled "A Film Director's Approach to Nurturing Creativity," a study of Arthur Penn's directing style. But something clicked in him a number of years before that.

"I remember seeing Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal' at the Brattle Theatre when I was 19," he says. "That was an astonishing experience. But I think from being knocked out by that film, and actually making a film, took 13 or 14 years."

Silver freely admits that filmmaking is not easy.

"It's a step at a time," he says of the process that includes writing, getting financing, casting, hiring a crew, directing, and distribution. "I think if you saw how far it was and how difficult it was and how long it would take, from the beginning, you might not undertake it."

But he's thrilled with "Radio Cape Cod."

"One is always surprised with what happens," he says. "Not everything is intended or planned, but I'm 100 percent happy with the way it came out."

"Radio Cape Cod" opens at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on May 23. For more information or to purchase a DVD, visit www.radiocapecod.com.

Ed Symkus can be reached at esymkus@cnc.com.

Fast fact:

Andrew Silver, a big fan a jazz, and regular patron at Ryles Jazz Club, is preparing to make a documentary about the Panama Jazz Festival.

by Ed Symkus, WickedLocal.com