Bensonhurst-born actor William DeMeo just can’t get enough of his hometown.
The Bishop Ford graduate will debut “My Effen Neighbor,” a brand new short film about two Brooklyn neighbors who butt heads (and yet another flick of DeMeo’s filmed in the borough), at nationwide festivals later this year.
“It’s a short film about two neighbors that don’t like one another,” explained DeMeo. “Basically, this guy of Indian descent moves next door to an Italian guy, and the Italian guy feels that the Indian guy should knock on his door but the Indian guy thinks the Italian guy should be more welcoming.
“It’s funny and it’s light, but it’s something that everybody can relate to,” DeMeo went on. “At the end of the day, these two characters end up being very similar. Everybody has that neighbor they can’t stand.”
DeMeo stars in the film alongside some real-life friends of his.
“Shooting with my friends has just been a great time,” said the actor, who appears in the picture alongside celeb-friends like Louie Lombardi (“The Usual Suspects,” “Natural Born Killers”) Lillo Brancato (“A Bronx Tale”) and Joe D’Onofrio (“Good Fellas,” “A Bronx Tale”).
“The main character, played by Will, lives on a street in Brooklyn and he’s used to it being a certain way, with his own people, and his own ethnicity living there,” explained Brancato, a lifelong friend of DeMeo’s who plays the role of Rico – a friend of DeMeo’s character – in the film. “Someone new comes in and Will’s character can’t really come to terms with that, but, in the end, it comes to a part where they meet each other and they help each other and Will’s character really learns a lesson about judgment.”
“It’s a really great, funny project,” said D’Onofrio, a Bath Beach native and Dyker Heights resident who plays Johnny, another friend of DeMeo’s character, in the film. “And working with Will is like a dream come true. He’s a nice guy, and he doesn’t forget where he came from. That’s really important.”
Michael Agola – owner of Café La Notte II, the Gerritsen Avenue eatery where DeMeo and his cast filmed in early January – agreed.
“I’ve known Will a long time,” said the local restaurateur, who also owns the original Café La Notte on Stillwell Avenue. “He came to me and said he wanted to film a movie and I said, ‘Use my place.’ He’s just a great guy.”
The movie’s message, Lombardi said, is just as relevant to Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bensonhurst as it is to ones like his hometown in the Bronx.
“I think it’s about change,” said Lombardi, who plays Mario, another of DeMeo’s character’s friends. “It’s about change in neighborhood, change in culture, and moving with the times. A lot of people in these neighborhoods – I grew up in the Bronx, and it’s the same thing – their mentality is that they don’t want change, you know, and then you have some people who stop resisting and learn to accept it. That’s what this project is about.”
DeMeo hopes to release “My Effen Neighbor” shortly after the premiere of his first-ever documentary, “Cruisin’ 86th Street,” a project close to his heart that hones in on Bensonhurst’s own 86th Street, and the makeshift social club that came with it, in the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s.
But, first up, DeMeo said, is the premiere of “Back in the Day” – the gritty tale of a half Italian-half Puerto Rican teen with a passion for boxing growing up on the streets of Bensonhurst that he stars in along with Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Shannon Doherty, among others – hitting theaters this May.
According to DeMeo, when it comes to his Brooklyn base, the same can be said for all three projects.
“The support I get from the people in the neighborhood is overwhelming,” he said. “Shooting in the neighborhood is always a great time, and it’s just incredible that the neighborhood always has my back. I love Brooklyn.”