DJ Sixsmith

East Rockaway will always have a special place in director John Budion’s heart.

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It’s where Budion grew up and met friends that he still has to this day and it’s also the setting for his first film as a director. The NYU graduate got the chance to film his first movie “Rockaway” on the same streets he grew up on back in the 1990s.

“East Rockaway has a very old feel. You’ve got these canals and old roads, but it’s very connected. Everybody knows each other,” said Budion in an interview with CBS Local. “Filming there was great because it’s where I met everybody and came of age and that’s where they meet in the story. I think being there helped to open up my emotions to infuse into the film.”

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“Rockaway” takes place in 1994 where the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets serves as a backdrop for the movie. Nobody loved Knicks guard John Starks more than 7-year-old John Budion.

“I loved John Starks because he was a hard working guy and kind of like our film, he was undrafted and had to fight his way into the league,” said Budion. “Our film has gone the long road to get out there. We don’t have a production company, we are just life long friends that made a film.”

New Yorkers will be able to see the film this weekend at the Village East Cinema. This has been a bucket list moment for Budion ever since he lived close by the theater as an NYU student years ago.

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“It’s really amazing. I went to NYU and that’s a theater right in that area,” said Budion. “I live right near there. Just to see Rockaway on the marquee outside with films fighting for Oscar Awards, which is kind of amazing. It’s good company to be in.”