Lake Placid native brings ‘Freak’ film to local festival

Lake Placid Film Festival returns Thursday this week

Lucky Cerruti is seen directing on set. (Provided photo — Lucky Cerruti)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Film Festival kicks off Thursday. On opening night, Lucky Cerruti, a Lake Placid native and filmmaker, will show his slasher film “Freak” for the first time in person.

Cerruti, 26, didn’t originally set out to be a filmmaker, but he said he’s always had widespread creative interests.

He grew up as a theater actor, performing in his first professional production at 10 years old, and he did some work at the Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake and the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Cerruti said he also grew up playing the guitar, and he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for guitar performance.

Now, he’s living in Manhattan, where he’s been working front of house for a production called “Sleep No More,” a film noir-style retelling of Macbeth performed at the McKittrick Hotel, since 2018. That’s where filmmaking entered his repertoire.

It’s tough to be an actor in the city, and Cerruti said that a 20-second audition isn’t the best format for actors to express their ability to do a job, especially since they’re often a “nervous wreck” during the audition. At the McKittrick, he said he met other creatives who felt the same. He said that he and his fellow creatives knew they could make something special, but he said they felt that “art is a lot of waiting for people to give you permission to do what you want to do.”

Lucky Cerruti’s slasher film “Freak” makes its in-person premiere Thursday at the Palace Theater in Lake Placid (Provided photo — Lucky Cerruti)

Then, on March 12, 2020, when the pandemic hit, Cerruti was temporarily let go from his job at the McKittrick. That’s when he decided to make “Freak.”

Film has always played in the background of Cerruti’s life. His first job was at the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid, where he was a projectionist. He said he’s always loved horror and genre films, but he said film always felt unattainable as an actor because he didn’t have any ties to the business. Working at the McKittrick, he realized that filmmaking was a possibility.

“It’s hard to put on a live theatre production, but it’s not as difficult to pick up a camera and film,” he said.

And because the pandemic pressed pause on a touring performance of “Frankenstein” he worked on with his creative partner, Cerruti said he was left with a large chunk of empty time. He said filmmaking came out of the “necessity” to release that creativity.

Cerruti returned to Lake Placid one week after he was let go from his job, and that’s when he started writing “Freak.” He said he’s always wanted to make a slasher film, so the ideas were already in his head and fell into a script quickly. He cast the film from his Lake Placid friend “bubble,” and they shot the film in 16 days at his friend’s camp in Onchiota. By October, after Cerruti scored and edited the film, “Freak” was finished.

Lucky Cerruti is seen directing on set. (Provided photo — Lucky Cerruti)

He said when the Lake Placid Film Festival team reached out to him about showing “Freak,” he was a little hesitant. He’s used to seeing tamer films come to the festival, like the classic film noir “with a guy smoking and saying important stuff.”

“We don’t make that kinda s**t,” he said of his multimedia production company, Dead Vision Productions. “It’s like blood and guts sort of stuff.”

He said the festival team gave him his own block of time on Thursday for that reason.

“They’re treating me like I’m a real filmmaker, which is like … it’s a trip, it’s fun,” he said.

But Cerruti is still in touch with his acting roots; he said that because he exhausted his actor resources for “Freak,” he had to make a cameo appearance at the beginning of the film.

Cerruti had already written and co-directed a short film, “Transferal,” with creative partner Matt Sorenson before he single-handedly wrote and directed “Freak.” His next project, “Uncle Sleazo’s Toxic and Terrifying TV Hour,” will feature “Transferal,” among other segments, as part of an anthology. He said the “super weird” anthology will run like a block of television, complete with a horror host and commercial breaks. He’s shooting that this week, and he hopes to wrap the project by December.

Cerruti has returned to Manhattan and the McKittrick, but he’s shooting “Sleazo” in Lake Placid and he’ll be presenting “Transferal” and “Freak” at the festival at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. He said that even though “Freak” has played in festivals before, winning awards like “Best Gore” and “Best Kill,” this is the first showing he’ll attend in person due to COVID-19.

People can rent Cerruti’s films through his production company’s website, deadvisionproductions.com.

The Lake Placid Film Festival kicks off Thursday at 1:30 p.m. with a screening of shorts at the LPCA. A full schedule for the festival is available online at adirondackfilm.org/event/lake-placid-film-festival.

If you go

• What: “Freak” and “Transferal” showing

• When: Thursday at 9:30 p.m.

• Where: Palace Theater, Lake Placid

• Cost: $10 cash at the theater


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