Although the world might be somewhat slowed down, the same can’t be said for Brooklyn-born director and actor Eric Rivas who has started filming a movie about COVID-19 in its midst.
The Duke of New York is somewhat of a pyscho-thriller focused on a movie producer who tries to trick a director into killing an Asian actor in a misguided attempt to take revenge for the COVID-19 pandemic. Independent filmmaker Rivas said: “It’s sort of a stand against xenophobia, and also about people’s desperation during this time.
Actors, including Michael Musto and Angel Salazar from Scarface , run through New York City streets emptied by the quarantine, narrowly avoiding death throughout the film.
While many would be deterred from indulging in more pandemic related content, Rivas was even more determined to tap into the genre.
“We are trapped inside with our fears. You don’t leave the house and you have all these pandemic fears in your head,” Rivas said. “So to show strength to others, I decided to make this film. Life doesn’t stop, we must continue. I want to show people that you don’t quit during this time.”
Rivas’ artistic visions did have to shift to fit new safety requirements, but he said the style fit well with his typical outlaw style, where he goes to places to shoot until someone tells him to stop. He said he still had a small, powerful team of creatives coming to set and they were required to wear masks. He also decided to set the majority of his film outside.
As both a native New Yorker and an evolving artist, Rivas has kept the New York cityscape as one of the film’s major focal points.
“There is a certain amount of pride that comes with being from New York. I’m a survivor of the city that doesn’t sleep,” Rivas said. “I wanted this film to be an excuse to show every New York landmark.”
Although the movie is still in its filming stage, Rivas already has a number of projects on the back burner, but he says none are as important as The Duke of New York.
“Not to be morbid, but every person during this whole pandemic has thought what if I get coronavirus and die. There is a certain part of you that says that I have to do this thing now so people will remember me,” Rivas said.
“In the most positive spin, I want to give my best film up today, God forbid anything bad would ever happen to me, I know I left an imprint of my work with a lot of heart in it.”
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