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

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Anyone looking for 1998 Norwood-Norfolk Central School graduate Philip DeLorenzo will find him these days in Portland, Ore., and in their 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 Army, plays a character named Francis in the film and is credited for its musical score. The independent film was the winner of Best Screenplay award 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 in a telephone interview from his home in Portland.

“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 1940s. I just look like a 1940s kind of guy. I’ve gotten that a couple of times,” he said.

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

The film uses a C-47 “Boogie Baby” plane which was operated by the nonprofit WWII Airborne Demonstration Team.

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

Mr. DeLorenzo said he initially auditioned for the role of Livingston, but that part 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 usually began at sundown, according to Mr. DeLorenzo. 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.” he said.

Mr. DeLorenzo’s role in the project went beyond acting.

“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 film’s music.

“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.

The composing was done without benefit of film footage.

“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.

A computer programmer, Mr. DeLorenzo has, but has 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.

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” at SUNY Plattsburgh.

He said he wasn’t surprised to learn that his son was using his theatrical and music 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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