Emmy Award–winning writer/producer Tom Fontana, ’73, will be coming to Buffalo in mid-March to film The Wrong Road with a production crew composed largely of students in the television and film arts (TFA) program at Buffalo State University.
The Wrong Road will be the largest production of a Fontana script filmed in Western New York. 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) are also slated to be part of the project.
“My hope is that this film project will be another step in the Buffalo State TFA program’s ever-expanding curriculum and exciting growth,” Fontana said. “Our students will be interacting with a trusted and talented group of professionals.”
One of Buffalo State’s most acclaimed alumni, Fontana is the creative force behind such blockbuster series as Borgia, Copper, Oz, and Homicide: Life on the Street.
Aaron Daniel Annas, Buffalo State associate professor and director of the television and film arts program, said the project will provide exposure for and elevate Buffalo State’s TFA program.
“Not many undergraduate students across the country can say they have worked on a project with an Emmy Award winner,” Annas said. “This provides an unmatched learning and networking opportunity for our students, and positions Buffalo State as a major player in higher education for the burgeoning film industry.”
The 50-person production crew, led by TFA students in the spring 2024 course TFA 480: Advanced Directing/Producing I, will include Buffalo State sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Buffalo State alumni will also join the project, as will students from other campus departments such as Communication, Theater, and Business.
With Fontana’s support, the project will also include Buffalo State alumni Rafael Mencía, ’18, as director of photography, and Kyle Mecca, ’13, as first assistant director. Mencía and Mecca, both graduates of Buffalo State’s TFA program, will serve as team leaders and student mentors for the project.
The 30-minute film, expected to premiere locally in May, is about a young man, driving across the state, who gets lost and finds himself at a mansion, where two strangers seem to know all the details of his complex life. The film will be submitted to festival competitions.
The project started as part of a conversation between Fontana and Annas during a car ride, when Fontana visited campus in fall 2023. Eventually, Fontana proposed two scripts for the project, and Annas selected The Wrong Road.
“Tom cares so much for Buffalo State and our television and film arts students,” Annas said. “He founded the Tom Fontana/Sagan Lewis TFA Award in 2019 to support our students interning in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. He regularly offers our students valuable internships at the Levinson/Fontana Company, and he often gives his time to come back and personally mentor our students. This new short film project is a tremendous extension of the support Tom has shown us through the years. We appreciate him and are so thankful he is part of our TFA family.”
Please visit the Buffalo State Giving website to learn how your support can help Buffalo State students participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.