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Norwood-Norfolk grad composes music, stars in World War II movie

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Anyone looking for 1998 Norwood-Norfolk Central School graduate Philip DeLorenzo will find him these days in Portland, Oregon and in your local Redbox movie rental machine.

Mr. DeLorenzo composed the musical score and is one of the actors in a 2011 movie called “Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers,” which was released on video in January and is available for rental via Redbox.

It’s the true story of the American Pathfinders, the volunteer paratroopers whose deadly mission was to land 30 minutes before the Normandy invasion, locate and mark strategic “drop zones” and set up the top-secret navigation equipment needed to guide the main airborne assault on D-Day.

Mr. DeLorenzo, a 2002 graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in theater who later joined the U.S. Army, plays a character named Francis in the World War II film and is also credited for its musical score. The independent film was the winner of “Best Screenplay” at the Alaska International Film Festival.

“After I left the military, I moved to Portland, Oregon. That’s where I responded to an audition to be an actor in a film here,” Mr. DeLorenzo said during a telephone interview from his home in Portland.

“It was an independent film. It was not a huge Hollywood production. The budget was probably around $100,000,” he said.

The film, however, uses the actual C-47 “Boogie Baby” plane from that era, which is now operated by the non-profit WWII Airborne Demonstration Team.

“It uses actual planes and actual guys jumping out of a World War II plane,” Mr. DeLorenzo said.

He said he knew it was a World War II film before he auditioned for a role with several other actors.

“There were a lot of people there. I got called back and went back and did a screen test. They just liked the way I look for the 1940’s. I just look like a 1940’s kind of guy. I’ve gotten that a couple of times,” he said.

Mr. DeLorenzo said he initially auditioned for the specific role of Livingston, but that part eventually went to Michael Conner Humphreys, who played the young Forrest Gump in the Tom Hanks movie “Forrest Gump.”

“I moved up to a bigger role,” he said.

Because the film recreates a night event, filming took place in most cases beginning at sundown, according to Mr. DeLorenzo

“Since the whole film took place at night, it was literally sundown to sunup. We were filming as soon as the sun went down and we had enough darkness. We had generators for lights in the field,” he said.

Filming, he said, took place from approximately May to October.

“It did get kind of cold. What was really brutal was when we had to lie on the ground. The earth literally just sucks the heat right out of you. It literally just draws it right to the ground,” he said.

But Mr. DeLorenzo’s role in the project was more than just as an actor.

“One thing I did do was compose the music for entire film,” he said. “My dad is a musician. I learned music from my dad. I was introduced to music when I was very, very young, piano and drums. I played pretty much anything. I even played spoons while I was a kid at church. I kind of have a natural music ability.”

Mr. DeLorenzo said he had two years to compose the music for the film.

“I built a computer specifically for it and installed everything I needed and learned everything I needed to compose. I also knew I had two years to do it,” he said.

He composed the music without having the footage to view.

“I actually did mine blind. I literally just got emails and talked to Curt (Sindelar), the director on the phone. He would say, at 1 minute 17 seconds can you up the intensity, at 2 minutes 15 seconds I need a loud drum here. I was writing this information down and writing a melody around his requirements,” he said.

Mr. DeLorenzo works as a computer programmer, something he said he was always interested in, but has also started his own company.

“I’m actually making films on my own now. I have a feature film that I canned already. I’m doing editing as well,” he said.

The Portland area is ripe for films, he noted.

“There have been a few shows filmed here. Leverage was filmed here. Grimm was filmed here. The people that I have on my crew now, they all did film on Grimm and they film huge feature films. They did work with Cuba Gooding Jr.,” he said.

Mr. DeLorenzo, who has an uncredited role in an episode of Leverage, said he’s working on a new feature.

“We’re writing it now. I’ve got a web series I’m also doing and a short film that’s about to be released,” he said.

Mr. DeLorenzo’s parents, Alexander and Francine DeLorenzo, reside in Norfolk, and the elder Mr. DeLorenzo said they were ecstatic to see a film with their son in the Redbox machine for rental.

“I didn’t know it was in Redbox until somebody called me and told me,” he said.

He recalled his son acting in Arsenic and Old Lace while he was a student at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“I said to my wife, I couldn’t believe it, he was good,” Mr. DeLorenzo said.

He said the younger Mr. DeLorenzo also had a talent for music, so he wasn’t surprised to learn that his son was using his talents in the movie.

“He can not only compose and act, but he is extremely talented on the guitar. I knew he’d been in the studio playing guitar,” he said. “I’m proud of him.”

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