Hometown director premieres “Jimmy Was a Carpenter”

Filmmaker Taylor Toole plays Jimmy in "Jimmy Was a Carpenter." — Photo by Taylor Toole Production

Vineyard native Taylor Toole will premiere his latest film, “Jimmy Was a Carpenter,” at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center on Saturday, April 12. A murder mystery and romantic thriller, the new film is set on the Island and stars local actors.

“I’m very excited to be showing it for the first time on Martha’s Vineyard,” Mr. Toole said in a recent telephone interview.

“Jimmy Was a Carpenter” started out as a 15-minute short. The director came up with the idea several summers ago, when he was working for his father on the Island. He assembled a crew and actors from local talent and friends, including his fiancée, Jennifer Hirsch, who plays Jimmy’s girlfriend, Alex, in the film.

Mr. Toole plays the lead character, Jimmy, who’s implicated in the death of a 32-year-old woman from New York whose body is found after she goes swimming alone. Other characters include musician and actor Rob Myers; Scott Barrow, his wife Amy Sabin Barrow; Jess Phaneuf; and Diana Waring.

The director worked without a production crew, doing the cinematography himself. “When I was not on screen, I was behind the camera,” he said. Shooting took place during the summer of 2012. “I was living in New York City at the time,” he said, “and I spent five or six weekends filming.” He returned in the summer of 2013 and shot more scenes.

Mr. Toole, who was born on the Island and graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1997, works as a video producer at Boston University. “Jimmy Was a Carpenter” is his third full-length feature. In 2009 he made the comedy, “Mow Crew,” about landscapers working on the Vineyard. It won an audience award at the Woods Hole Film Festival and received an Indie Spirit Special Recognition award at the Boston International Film Festival. He also directed the thriller “Black Eyed Girl” in 2009. In 2004, he worked on the TV series “Deadwood.”

Mr. Myers, who performs under the name Jellybone Rivers, will play music at the premiere, and members of the cast will attend as well. A Q&A session will follow screening of the one-hour film.

“I wanted to do something different that would require me to build tension,” Mr. Toole said. Using a Canon DSLR and car mounts, he shot footage all over the Island, including at Pilot Hill, Lambert’s Cove, Oak Bluffs, and the MVYradio station.

Mr. Toole’s next project is a novel he’s in the process of writing. It’s another murder mystery, this time set on Shark Tournament weekend. “The reason I’m doing it as a book is that maybe it’ll open the door to making a movie down the road,” he said.

Playing Saturday afternoon at the Film Center is “Love Free or Die,” a documentary about the first openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, sponsored by the M.V. Film Society and the Open and Affirming Committee of the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. Admission is free to the screening of “Love Free or Die,” which won a Special Jury Prize as an Agent of Change at Sundance Film Festival. Director Macky Alston will be present to answer questions after the film, and refreshments will be served.

On Sunday, the M.V. Film Center will screen “Away From Her,” starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent in a story about a woman’s descent into dementia, based on a short story by Alice Munro and directed by Sarah Polley. Presented in collaboration with the M.V. Center for Living as a benefit for that organization, the film will be followed by a discussion about Alzheimer’s Disease with Leslie Clapp of the Supportive Day Program at the M.V. Center for Living, Eileen Murphy and Mary Holmes of Windemere’s Alzheimer Unit, and Karen Achille. Michael Haydn will perform at the piano as part of the Memory Café.

The Film Center repeats its new Opera On Screen series on Sunday, April 13, with the London Royal Opera production of Mozart’s popular “Don Giovanni.” Titled “The Rake Punished” in English, the Royal Opera Company’s new production is by ROC Director Kasper Holten. It features Mariusz Kwiecien in the lead role, along with French soprano Veronique Gens.

“Jimmy Was a Carpenter,” Saturday, April 12, 7:30 pm, Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, Vineyard Haven. $12; $9 M.V. Film Society members; $7 ages 14 and under. For information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.