Category Archives: Featured Stories

Fulton native makes magic for the silver screen

By Ashley M. Casey

As a child growing up in Fulton, Marcus Taormina often borrowed his parents’ video camera to make live-action horror films and stop-motion movies.

But he never imagined he’d make a career out of it someday.

Taormina now lives in Los Angeles, Calif., and is a freelance visual effects and digital media supervisor for the film industry.

He has worked on “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Fast and Furious 6” and the reality TV show “America’s Next Top Model.” Currently, he is working on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which is slated for a May 2, 2014, release.

Although he works 12 hours a day — sometimes more — he says he “couldn’t be happier.”

Taormina originally majored in computer science, but “it just didn’t feel right to me,” he said. After a couple of semesters, he decided to switch gears to the University of Buffalo’s film production program.

“As soon as I took my first class, I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” he said.

Throughout college, Taormina took several small film jobs to familiarize himself with all aspects of production.

“One of the biggest things in the industry is making sure you understand your job and other jobs,” he said.

After graduating in 2007, Taormina moved to California to look for a job. Unfortunately, his move coincided with the Writers Guild of America strike, so it was hard to find work. Taormina worked in reality television, but his real dream was film.

“Film had more impact on people,” he said.

Taormina acts as a liaison for the director, camera crew and visual effects companies that are contracted to create computer-generated (CG) images, fix problems with props, and remove wires and other equipment that shouldn’t end up in the final shot. There are eight companies in the United States and Canada working on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

“It’s basically a big puzzle piece,” Taormina said. “I’m guessing information we will need in case a shot is envisioned later on that was not before … to create a fully CG environment.”

Many characters are fully CG, so Taormina’s job is to provide photo references and map the photos onto a three-dimensional scan of the actor.

“The actors see what’s become of them and how their characters look in CG, and they can’t believe it,” Taormina said. “That’s how you know you’ve done your job.”

Thanks to his industry connections, Taormina has kept a steady stream of freelance visual effects work going. He has worked in New York City and Baton Rouge, La., in addition to Los Angeles.

“It’s a very weird working environment at times,” he said. “Once I’m done with (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), which is in about a month, I can find another job right off the bat, or I can take a little time off. That’s my vacation.”

The camaraderie on set makes Taormina’s sometimes grueling job more fun.

“This is the second ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ I’ve worked on. It’s a lot of the same team,” he said. “It’s the team bonding that you do. You’re all working an incredible amount of time. Long hours.”

But the movie magic is what Taormina finds most rewarding.

“It makes you feel like a kid and giddy when Special Effects comes in and they blow things up. It reminds you why you’re doing this,” he said. For the film he worked on in Baton Rouge, “There was an alien spacecraft (attacking) and we blew up a gas station. We closed an entire part of town. You could feel the heat from the explosion.”

Taormina has come a long way since setting up his G.I. Joes for stop-motion movies as a child.

“It was so magical to see what I could do by just pushing a button … and then bring the product upstairs and put it in the VCR. It got my mind thinking about what I could do creatively,” he said. “Not in a million years did I ever think I’d be working on a huge production like ‘Spider-Man.’”

Taormina’s advice for young Fultonians is to “always pursue your dreams.” He added, “(Even) if you think it’s silly, you never know what could happen.”

Phoenix family loses house, dog in fire

By Ashley M. Casey

A fire in the village of Phoenix on the evening of Feb. 17 left a family of five unharmed, but without their home and their dog.

Several local fire companies helped put out the blaze at 33 Elm St., which was reported at 5:30 p.m.

The family escaped with their cat and dog, but the dog ran back into the burning house and firefighters were unable to revive it.

Firefighters were met with some difficulty when the fire hydrant in Johnson’s front yard was frozen. They used a fire hydrant two blocks away.

“We were able to knock down the fire pretty quick,” Phoenix Fire Chief John McDonald said. He estimated it took about 45 minutes to extinguish the fire.

Firefighters from Baldwinsville, Caughdenoy, Cody, Liverpool, Mexico, Moyers Corners and Volney assisted the Phoenix Enterprise Fire Company No. 1.

Homeowner Mark Johnson shares the residence with his fiancée, another adult relative and two children. The American Red Cross is helping Johnson and his family, who are staying with relatives.

McDonald said the home is no longer livable due to damage mostly on the first floor.

“(There’s) pretty extensive damage from the smoke, heat and water damage,” McDonald said. “Fire damage was minimal.”

McDonald said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, but the dryer is suspected. The fire began in the laundry room.

Fulton Home Show returns April 12

More than 40 booths and exhibits from building suppliers, home repair specialists, and financial institutions will fill the Fulton War Memorial for the eighth consecutive year when the Fulton Area Home Show returns on Saturday, April 12.

A true sign of spring, the free home show is an opportunity for local homeowners and potential homebuyers to get a glimpse of the many services available for buying, selling, renovating, and sprucing up a home.

The show runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and features a variety of different vendors from financial institutions offering help on mortgages to contractor’s offering ideas on improvements.

The event is sponsored by Burkes Home Center and is presented by the City of Fulton and the Fulton Community Development Agency.

In addition to the more than 40 exhibits, the home show will again emphasize “curb appeal” this year, said Joe Fiumara, executive director of the Fulton Community Development Agency.

“This year’s show will feature more vendors from the landscaping and exterior trades as we did last year,” Fiumara said.

“We know from experience that what gives everyone the nice inviting sense from a perspective buyer to a neighbor visiting is ‘curb appeal,’” he said. “So we anticipate our vendors to be offering tips and efficient ideas to achieve this.”

Fiumara said the home show came about in response to many comments from the community that homeowners didn’t know where to go for certain information, were not aware of certain services in the community, or were looking for a place where they could ask questions without being under any obligation to buy or sign up for something.

“Regardless of income, people are looking for certain things and were not sure where to get them,” he said. “The Home Show will be an ideal place for people looking to buy a home, as well as people who own a home and are looking to make some improvements.”

The show also will feature ongoing demonstrations by local contractors, building supply companies, and landscapers.

Exhibitor spaces for the home show are sold out, but organizers are compiling a waiting list for next year, Fiumara said.

“We have been pleased with the response by the business community so far,” he said. “This is such a good opportunity for our community to see what’s available to them and to look forward to the spring and summer home improvement and landscaping months.”

More information on the show, including exhibitor information, is available at the Fulton Community Development Agency, 125 W. Broadway, Fulton. Call 593-7166 or email fultonhousing@windstream.net to learn more.

SUNY Oswego students win two awards in media arts competition

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

Students from SUNY Oswego won two awards in the recent Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts, a national competition.

The writing, videography and production team of broadcasting and mass communication majors Daniel Frohm, Joseph Salvatore and Shaune Killough tied for third in the instructional/educational category for a video made under contract with the Central New York Interoperable Communications Consortium.

In radio hard news reporting, Patrick Malowski took honorable mention for a piece titled “Harlem Shake Translation Controversial.”

“I didn’t expect it at all,” said Killough, a sophomore from Glenwood Landing on Long Island. “The fact we were all able to win this award is incredible.”

Through communication studies faculty member Marybeth Longo and a production company she helped form, Great Laker Communications at SUNY Oswego, Killough and teammates Frohm, a junior, and Salvatore, a senior, set to work on a Motorola-sponsored $10,000 project to produce an explanatory film about the need for reliable communications among the wide variety of first responders in New York state.

The project had mentoring and assistance from Longo and from sound and lighting professionals.

“What made this project good is we all had different fortes,” said Killough, who was in charge of all post-production, including editing and graphics.

Killough said one reason he came to SUNY Oswego was the college’s broadcasting program “wants you to get your hands on the equipment right away,” rather than as an upperclassman.

He said he produced his first commercial for the student-run WTOP-TV in his first month in school, and he continues to work at the Campus Center-based station.

The Interoperable Communications Consortium project took hands-on a step further, enabling the students to shoot video from the Air 1 helicopter and to work “many more hours than any of us cares to admit” on a video that’s in professional service today, Killough said.

Nine counties in Central and Northern New York cooperate with the consortium’s project for an effective cross-agency mobile radio communications system for E-911, fire, law enforcement and other responders.

Nationally competitive

By contrast, Malowski, a senior broadcasting and mass communication major, put together his Harlem Shake audio report as part of a multimedia package for an upper-level broadcast journalism course taught by Michel Riecke of communication studies.

Malowski, from Herkimer, seized on the opening line of Baauer’s version of “Harlem Shake” that, translated from Spanish, says, “with the terrorists.”

“Professor Riecke wanted us to think outside the box and find something interesting,” Malowski said.

The resulting news package — with interviews from students, a professor of Spanish and others about the dance craze and the song’s controversial wording — was published on the SUNY Oswego broadcast journalism students’ blog, Oswego News.

“I am just excited to know my work can stand out in a national competition,” finishing fourth among 80 entries, said Malowski, who will take his SUNY Oswego experience into the work force after commencement in May.

The BEA competition drew entries from many colleges and universities, including University of Maryland, Ithaca College, Arizona State University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Judging for the BEA’s Festival of Media Arts focused on professionalism, the use of aesthetic and creative elements, structure and timing, production values, technical merit and overall contributions to the discipline.

The awards presentation will take place at the organization’s national convention, April 6 to 9 in Las Vegas.

For more information on broadcasting and mass communication or on any of the more than 110 other majors and programs at SUNY Oswego, visit www.oswego.edu.

 

Bird festival set for May 10 in Mexico

Bring your family and friends for a fun day about birds and nature as the Onondaga Audubon Society hosts its annual Bird Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 10.

The event is at the scenic lakeside Derby Hill Bird Observatory just off State Route 104B in the town of Mexico.

Admission and parking are free.

Live hawks, bird walks, nature activities and kids’ face painting are scheduled throughout the day. Visitors can help monitor a bluebird trail, talk with experts about bird behavior and migration, see live hawks and owls, and hear a presentation about the fascinating world of raptors.

The festival’s star performers will be the eagles, hawks, vultures and other species of birds that soar over Derby Hill on their annual migration northward.

A silent auction will offer bird and non-bird items. Vendors will be on hand with wildlife photography, native plants, artwork and handcrafted jewelry. The ever popular Chompers Smokin’ Barbeque will also be on site.

For a complete schedule of activities and directions to Derby Hill Bird Observatory, visit www.onondagaaudubon.com/public-programs/bird-festival/. For lodging and visitor information, go to www.visitoswegocounty.com.

Hospice receives Shineman Foundation grant

The Friends of Oswego County Hospice are beginning a year-long education campaign regarding the benefits of Hospice care for people with a life-limiting illness.

Made possible through a grant from the Richard S. Shineman  Foundation, this education program will target residents of Oswego County and the professional medical community.

“Our goals with this program are to educate the community at large about the benefits of the family-centered care that Oswego County Hospice has been providing for 25 years, and to provide the medical community with the tools they need to refer patients to Oswego County Hospice,” said Debbie Bishop, executive director of the Friends of Oswego County Hospice.

The Friends of Oswego County Hospice are partnering with Step One Creative to develop a series of  educational and promotional materials that focus on the interdisciplinary care provided by Oswego County Hospice including nursing, social work, volunteers, home health aides and financial support if necessary.

“The Shineman Foundation recognizes the remarkable service Oswego County Hospice provides and the profound assistance it has given to so many families,” said Lauren Pistell, executive director of the Shineman Foundation.

“We are delighted to partner with the Friends of Oswego County Hospice to educate and inform the community and hope the grant will increase Hospice’s capacity to help those in need,” Pistell said.

The Friends of Oswego County Hospice is a nonprofit agency that supports the Oswego County Hospice Program through fundraising and public education.

Money raised through memorial contributions, fundraising and foundation grants assist Hospice patients and their families experiencing financial difficulties, supports the Hospice Volunteer Program and funds the operation of Camp Rainbow of Hope, a free bereavement program for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

Palermo historian seeks veteran information

Attention town of Palermo veterans!

Palermo Historian Beverly Beck is seeking information concerning veterans from the town to be added to the historical records.

A few years ago, a book was published from the information gathered about the town’s veterans.  Also, there is a display at the Town Hall listing all the veterans with facts regarding their service.

Since that time, there have been many new veterans who are not listed on our current informational database.

If you are a veteran living or born in the town of Palermo, call Beck at 593-6825. If you had a relative that served in the military who is now deceased, the historian would still like to have their information.

There is a short form to fill out, plus the addition of a photograph of the veteran would be appreciated.

A copy of your discharge DD 214 papers would most likely answer all questions.

Call the historian at 593-6825 for more information. She would like to include all veterans if possible in order to honor their service to this nation.

 

H. Lee White Marine Museum receives grant for educational project

The H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego is one of 10 grant recipients to fund education and preservation projects along the Erie Canalway.

The Erie Canalway Natonal Heritage Corridor is investing $65,530 in grants, which will be matched by $478,000 in private and public project money raised by grant recipients.

The grants are aimed at inspiring people to learn more about New York’s legendary canals and further explore the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

The H. Lee White museum will use its $4,000 for an Oswego Canal Photo Essay, “Then and Now.” The museum will develop a photo essay documenting changes in the Oswego Canal and adjacent landscape using historical and current day images.

The exhibit will travel to multiple Oswego Canal communities for display.