Teen-age filmmakers to make TV debut Video is latest of pair's work CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

December 31, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

This is their dream: Someday, the names of Severna Park High School graduates Erik Crown and Dan Capuzzi will be as famous as Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers.

For now, the two teen-agers are content that a film they wrote and produced has been picked up by NBC to be shown on a late-night comedy program.

"The Flicky Man" is a bizarre film-noir spoof that will be aired this spring in North Carolina and Virginia on the cable show "The Rob and Bill Show."

This latest success of Capuzzi/Crown Productions -- their fledgling company -- follows Mr. Crown's Silver Telly award last year. His anti-war video won the statuette in a national competition for non-network television.

"The Flicky Man" chronicles the woes of a vacuum-cleaner salesman for the Flicky Company, who discovers he's been selling a nonexistent product. A devoted salesman, Joe Jacobs has been proclaiming: "Just one Flicky does the tricky" for years, selling a product he's never seen and communicating by letter with a company that never answers.

Customers place orders with Mr. Jacobs, who forwards them to the company. Flicky then ships the goods to the buyers.

At least, that's what Mr. Jacobs has believed. But he discovers he's been had. A wild-eyed renegade from the company rages: "No one has ever seen a Flicky vacuum. There is no such thing as a Flicky vacuum. Flicky is a scam. They take people's money and they don't deliver!"

The renegade then nobly does himself in, swallowing a pill and dying on the planks of a small wooden beach house.

Mr. Jacobs decides to go to the police, but when confronted by the gun barrel of a Flicky agent who carries a "license to kill" badge, he changes his mind. He goes back to peddling a nonexistent product.

"We wanted to spoof the gung-ho business mentality and also the seriousness of modern gangster movies," says Mr. Capuzzi, 18.

The background for the the 23-minute movie came from his childhood in Trenton, N.J. Mr. Capuzzi's father worked in an office building across from an office for Kirby Vacuums.

"Every now and then when I was visiting my Dad, you could hear the salesmen getting psyched up to sell vacuum cleaners," says Mr. Capuzzi. "They would bang on the walls, jump on trampolines, scream at the top of their lungs to psyche themselves up to go out and sell. The fanaticism of that 'Kirby, Kirby' is where the inspiration for this came from."

Mr. Capuzzi is a freshman at Anne Arundel Community College and plans to transfer to New York University's film school next year, where Mr. Crown, 19, is a student.

The two met during Mr. Capuzzi's junior year at Severna Park High, when a TV production teacher asked them to work on a public service announcement. They hated one another. "It was the first time we'd met competition in school," says Mr. Capuzzi.

A semester later, they met again and started talking about projects they hoped to do. "We just hit it off, and it's been a blast since," says Mr. Capuzzi. "Lots of work and lots of play."

For "The Flicky Man," the two hired local actors, such as David Reynolds, who plays the main character. They borrowed Dick Gessner's theater hangout on Route 50 for the bar scenes.

The short film premiered this year at a furniture store on Ritchie Highway, where an art show was being held. Someone connected with NBC saw the film and arranged to air it on "The Rob and Bill Show," a cable show premiering in the Raleigh, N.C. area.

"It covers a pretty large area, and it's a crazy program, so our film fits right in," Mr. Capuzzi says.

Both partners in Capuzzi/Crown Productions have been involved film since they were youngsters. At 13, Mr. Crown began wrapping cables for his father, who retired a few years ago from his job as an engineer with ABC. At 16, he went to work for Jones Intercable, where he helped produce a magazine for teen-agers.

Since then, he's taped and edited real-estate videos and helped produce a Japanese made-for-TV movie about Babe Ruth.

Mr. Crown transferred in the fall from St. John's College to New York University's film school. In the last year, he and Mr. Capuzzi have produced several commercials about illiteracy and for local restaurants, aired on TV in Maryland.

Mr. Capuzzi has worked with his father, a three-time Regional Emmy Award Winner for Documentary Screenplays. He admires Joel and Ethan Coen, who have produced such films as "Barton Fink" and "Miller's Crossing," as well as Martin Scorsese and his team.

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