Taylor Toole: Martha’s Vineyard filmmaker debuts latest


“After Work,” Taylor Toole’s newest film, was almost an afterthought.

Literally a last minute project completed just three weeks ago, “After Work” made its Island premier last weekend, showing five times at the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven as the lead-in to the theatre’s feature film showings.

“The way it happened, I had submitted myself in an event in New York City staged by Looseworld, a film production company, which paired filmmakers with musicians to produce a short film with soundtrack music to be composed and performed live by the musician at the event,” Mr. Toole, 31, said last week.

“I forgot all about it until I got a call saying I’d been accepted, just a few weeks before the April 16 event. I was paired with a musician, who had a schedule conflict arise with just a few days left,” said the producer of the critically acclaimed full-length feature, “Mow Crew”, filmed on the Island two years ago.

Island-grown Mr. Toole, who graduated from Emerson College in 2001 and now also a New York City resident, filmed the short on the Vineyard, using resident Nick Briggs as the subject.

“In a nutshell, the story follows a laborer, who is also a skateboarder, which Nick is, in his off-hours between ending work at 4 pm and sunset at 8 pm when he returns home.

“I was looking for something simple and visually interesting. The film followed Nick from work, then home to his wife and kid. We shot it completely on the Vineyard, using various locations including the skate park near the high school, the Steamship Authority terminal in Oak Bluffs, and the hospital,” he said.

The film was in the can and only one of eight films accepted for screening at the event when he got the news that his musician partner couldn’t make it. “I thought that was it, but they paired me with another musician, Bridget Barkan, who’d also been orphaned during the process. She reviewed the footage and three days later I got her music, completely written, composed and recorded. Amazing work,” he said.

He said that Ms. Barkan is also an actress with cable and network dramatic series credits. “She concentrating on music more now,” he said. In keeping with “After Work’s” deadline mode, “We met for the first time on the night of the performance at Crash Mansion, a nightclub on The Bowery in lower Manhattan,” he said.

Casting call on Saturday

Mr. Toole, a 1997 graduate of the M.V. Regional High School, will hold auditions for his next feature-length film on Saturday, May 8 at the Vineyard Playhouse between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Mr. Toole is casting seven teenagers and three adults for his next movie, titled “Claire Pickett’s Kid,” a murder mystery, which will be filmed on the Island as was his first feature film, “Mow Crew,” which two weeks ago won best feature film at Kent (Connecticut) Film Festival. “We were shocked. Some big films were in that festival,” he said.

“‘Claire Pickett’s Kid,'” says Mr. Toole, “is very different from ‘Mow Crew.’ It’s a script I’ve had since college. I just kept picking it up since then and decided to make it.”

Like “Mow Crew,” a film about young lovers in a landscaping crew readying to leave the Island for the larger world, there will probably be some cameo roles. Island actress Taffy McCarthy and locals including Tristan Israel and Bob Lee appear in “Mow Crew.”

Mr. Toole has been on a dizzying run since taking a leave of absence from a job as a film editor with a hot New York agency three years ago. “People thought I was crazy to do it but since making ‘Mow Crew’ I’ve learned so much as a film maker and as a storyteller.

“I am less hesitant. I’ve learned that if you don’t know how to do it, you can find out,” he said.

“For example, I had no idea how film distribution worked but I learned and I’m working on a distribution plan to have ‘Mow Crew’ available on DVD online and in Island retail locations by summer,” he said.

“I feel more confident about how the film world works. I guess I believe I’m part of the movie business now. I don’t know if I’d say I’m legitimized but I’ve made a movie that won awards and that people saw,” he said.

Mr. Toole’s understated approach to life also includes a radio show with his mom, social worker Marnie Toole, on the Island’s community radio station, WVVY-FM 93.7

“It’s called ‘Last Night I Went to the Movies With My Mom’ on Wednesday at 3:30. We’ve done eight segments, 15 minutes talking about the movie we went to see the night before and another 15 minutes talking movies generally.”

“I don’t think she’s all that comfortable being on the radio but she does it with me anyway,” he chuckled.

“After Work” can be seen online at looseworld.com or at taylortoole.com.

Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Times.