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Melrose family debuts 'Heavy Seven'

Posted by Marcia Dick  April 12, 2010 10:04 AM

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Robert Azevedo Sr. in "Heavy Seven."

When Melrose resident Rob Azevedo, 31, sat down to write about seven critical moments in his life, he had no idea five years later he’d be seeing them on the big screen.

The debut showing of his 38-minute film, “Heavy Seven” at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge Sunday  marks the end of an accomplishment that took guts, a lot of home-cooked elbow grease, and an all-out family and community effort.

 “It took us a really long time,” said Laura Azevedo, sister to Rob and producer of the film. “Everybody did this in the middle of super-busy lives. We all have children, full-time jobs, so it was filmed nights and weekends.”

Laura’s house, located in the heart of Melrose, is featured in the film but her home isn’t the only local shot. In fact, the entire film was shot in Melrose featuring Grimsby’s restaurant, the Gately Funeral Home, and Melrose High School. The only shot not considered “in town” is Nasty Nonni’s Wine & Spirits, but locals claim it’s within town lines.

Director and editor Paul Serafini is Laura’s boss at WGBH Boston but his reasons for doing the film were for more than for local support.

“[I] was looking for a script with strong characters, a compelling storyline, and practically speaking, one that we could produce with limited resources,” said Serafini. “Rob’s script had all that and this fantastic edge that brings ordinary life occurrences into razor sharp focus.”

Rob and Laura’s father, Robert Azevedo Sr., 69, also a resident of Melrose, plays Bobby Merlot, an aging funeral parlor employee haunted by seven major events of his past. Most of the elder Azevedo’s 10 grandchildren are on screen as well, in various scenes Merlot is recalling and sometimes as younger versions of Bobby.

As Merlot confronts the seven events, ranging from childhood to adulthood and married life into senior status, he tries to come to terms with the choices and consequences of each. Since the film takes place mostly in flashback, audience members also relive the sometimes excruciating experiences Merlot confronts.

Although the film was family made, its material may not be considered appropriate for all audiences. With harsh thematic material, some crude language, and no attempt to sugarcoat the drama of real life, “Heavy Seven” is a bold work of art. Its angles are equally dramatic and the pace from present to past and back quick.

The total cost of the production was remarkably low at $8,000. While the modest budget is evident in the costuming, set design, and lighting, the Azevedo family and crew say they are more than satisfied with the finished product.  

And they’re hopeful the Brattle Theatre’s screening was the beginning. They’ve recently submitted “Heavy Seven” to 15 festivals as well known as the Los Angeles Film Festival and as distant as the Amsterdam Film Festival, and are optimistic they will get a response.

“I just hope people will see it and will get it,” said Rob Jr. “I hope they will come out of the theater thinking, “Do I have seven moments?’ ” 

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