Talking with Ron Berger, CEO of Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, about the documentary he co-directed with childhood friend and PR guy Dan Klores, you can almost hear the strains of Welcome Back, Kotter. But the film, which looks back at the lives of six friends who hung out by the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, has no wacky Sweathogs or dewy nostalgia.
"We tried to trace the lives of a group of guys who grew up in the '60s and see how we got where we are," Berger says of The Boys of 2nd Street Park, which will debut at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 21 and air on Showtime next fall. Friends since the 7th grade, Berger and Klores fell out of touch but reunited about 10 years ago. "We would always talk about what some of the other guys were up to," Berger says. As the film shows, some were attending Harvard while others were caught in the throes of drug addiction. "We wanted to show how a group of lower-middle-class guys with the same values, same upbringing, took different ways of getting out of the neighborhood," Berger says.
Eighty hours of film was cut into 90 minutes at MVBMS' facilities. But the title needed a trim, too. "Originally, we were going to call it Under the Board walk: The Boys of 2nd Street Park or Hole in the Fence: The Boys of 2nd Street Park," Klores says. "One character explains the hole in the fence was about shortcuts, that often we were taught [to] take the shortcut."