Five students work on movie set

Buffalo State Students Wrap Up Filming for Tom Fontana’s ‘The Wrong Road’


Filming for the new Tom Fontana script, The Wrong Road, concluded March 23 for the production crew composed largely of students in the television and film arts (TFA) program at Buffalo State University. The project was filmed over one week across multiple locations throughout the city.

The film, the largest production of a Fontana script filmed in Western New York, is about a young man on a cross-state drive who gets lost and finds himself at a mansion, where two strangers seem to know all the details of his complex life. “It’s a short film, which means it won’t be that boring,” Fontana joked. “It’s supernatural in nature, sort of like a Twilight Zone episode.”

The 30-minute film premieres at the North Park Theatre on Sunday, May 12, at 11:30 a.m. It will also be submitted to festival competitions.

Fontana, one of Buffalo State’s most acclaimed alumni and the creative force behind such blockbuster series as Borgia, Copper, Oz, and Homicide: Life on the Street, helped found the university's TFA program 15 years ago and has since maintained involvement through teaching and sponsoring scholarships.

“This seemed like a great way to have the students interact with professionals, which they will be someday,” Fontana said during filming. “They’re getting an education about how we work together and how much fun we can have while we’re doing it.”

Director Metin Hüseyin (The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling) and actors Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Lee Tergesen (Weird Science, Oz), and Mark Ryder (Borgia) were also part of the project, as well as Buffalo State alumni Rafael Mencía, ’18, as director of photography, and Kyle Mecca, ’13, as first assistant director. 

Hüseyin, Erbe, Tergesen, and Ryder—new to both Buffalo and Buffalo State—were impressed by the students’ attitude and abilities. “They’re doing the hair and makeup, the costumes, pulling focus,” Erbe said during a break on set. “We’re having a fantastic time.” 

Tergesen added, “Everybody has been doing an amazing job. I was not expecting as good quality professionalism as we’ve seen.”

Junior TFA major Angel Barber, who served as student executive producer, said, “My experience on The Wrong Road strengthened my love of filmmaking in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without the extremely talented professionals we collaborated with. Working on the film at such a professional capacity made me excited for my future and gave me visions as to what I can aspire to.”

Ryder also praised the students’ commitment. “Everyone is keen to give everything. Sometimes people in other productions who’ve been doing it for many, many years may be a bit tired of it,” he said. “I’ve found the people of Buffalo to be giving a lot.”

As a Buffalo native, Fontana is familiar with the spirit that permeates the City of Good Neighbors. “The city is a remarkable place to shoot because there is the great architecture, but there’s also such a great sense of community,” he said.

“The people in Buffalo are significantly friendlier than I’ve encountered in the other big filming spots,” Ryder said. “It’s lovely to be around genuine people as opposed to the fakeness we can encounter.”

Aaron Daniel Annas, director of Buffalo State’s TFA program, emphasized the value of working with industry professionals.

“I’ve watched each of these wonderful people take individual moments with our students and mentor or encourage,” he said. “It has been humbling to see how much they’ve given our students. I’m so thankful.”

Photos by Jesse Steffan-Colucci, Buffalo State photographer.