Joan Jett on set in North Merrick

Long Island film tackles addiction through story of aging cop

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“Dinosaur” is a dramatic thriller that follows aging police officer John Halmo and his efforts to snuff out an impending biker war. Directed by Fred Carpenter, Produced by MaryAnn Gianninno and starring Ed Asner, Robert Clohessy and Joan Jett. 

Joan Jett stands in a bathroom and clutches her face, focusing on her reflection in a wall mirror. When the director shouts action she becomes Stephanie, a wife and mother who is struggling with the disease of addiction. Stephanie had just finished rummaging through her cabinet to find multiple empty pill bottles. She screams for her husband, George, played by Broadway actor Ciaran Sheehan, who runs in after her. “Look in the mirror,” he shouts. “Who is that girl? I can’t find you anymore.”

Jett and Sheehan play a couple whose story figures into the central plot of the film “Dinosaur,” which is currently in production at several locations across Long Island. The scene above was shot on May 12 at the North Merrick home of Trish Appello, Secretary of the Long Island TV/Film Foundation.

“Dinosaur” is a dramatic thriller that follows aging police officer John Halmo and his efforts to snuff out an impending biker war. “What’s interesting is that it’s a day in the life of one person, but you meet so many others along the way,” said Byron Clohessy, who plays officer Danny and is known for multiple short films and an appearance in the CBS show “Blue Bloods.”

The domestic dispute between Jett and Sheehan’s characters is one of the many issues Halmo must deal with throughout the course of the film. Co-producer and co-writer Edward Wahl is a Nassau County police officer who based the character on his retired partner of the same name.

Wahl said that he wanted to capture “what’s happening on Long Island and throughout the country right now.” He added that he has seen multiple individuals struggling with opioid addiction, has revived individuals with naloxone and saw the same individuals relapse. “Once you start [using], there’s a good chance you are going to die,” he said.

Sheehan said that the role hit close to home, explaining that he recently lost a close friend of his son, who overdosed and died. When it came to approaching the character of George, Sheehan said that he always explores how a role relates to love. “Both of these characters are dealing with their own wounds,” he said. “The fear of losing [Stephanie] puts me at wits end.”

“[Stephanie] could only focus on feeling better,” Jett said, adding that it wasn’t hard for her to portray the conflict because of its prevalence in society today.

The Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer was brought on the film after a friend sent her the script through her company Blackheart Film Management. “The whole fact that it is a film on Long Island sold it,” she said, adding that the location is “prime ground” for filmmaking because of its versatile geographic features, specifically its beaches, farmland and urban landscapes.

“It’s really important to support the indie film scene everywhere, but especially close to home,” she added, referring to productions that are tied with up-and-coming companies, shoot locally and promote emerging actors and filmmakers. In addition to “Dinosaur,” Jett has experienced Long Island filmmaking on the set of the music documentary “Dare to be Different,” as well as multiple music videos shot with her bands, The Runaways and The Blackhearts.

“Dinosaur” is set to wrap production by the start of July, when it will move into the post-production and eventually the distribution phase.