BEES. HEARTACHE. ACCORDION.
When a cherished heirloom breaks, a grandfather and granddaughter must accept the deeper loss that binds them in order to restore music to their lives.
Beeswax draws on Cristoforo’s childhood experiences with his own father, an accordionist, and his grandfather, a font of old-world manual knowledge. Often feeling the pop culture shadow of gangster stereotypes, he wanted to make a film that in contrast would show a slice of an Italian American upbringing more evocative of backyard chickens than Mean Streets.
Location availability constraints led Beeswax to begin shooting on the 7-year anniversary of Tony Magliozzi’s death. Tony Magliozzi, Cristoforo’s grandfather, was the inspiration for the character of Pops. And because his father, David Magliozzi, flew in from Boston to cameo and play accordion for the Austin production, they spent the day reflecting on the loss of a shared loved one in parallel to the film’s story being shot.
BROKEN REEDS & A FLAMING ACCORDION
While the pictured accordion in the film is Cristoforo’s own accordion, the reed block and reeds come from an accordion donated to the film by Austin accordion repairman Chad Walker. The donated accordion had tragically been destroyed in a fire and its owner had passed away. Walker requested that when done with the accordion that it be burned and recorded in slow-motion in memorial to its original owner. This footage features in the trailer of the film, but ultimately was cut from the full movie.
REAL ACCORDION REPAIR
Committed to authenticity, the pot boiling on the stove was an actual reed wax mixture combining olive oil with beeswax and propolis (bee glue) acquired from Bee Friendly Honey Farm where part of the film was shot. This proved to be a sticky situation in the following scene because the mixture worked! The reeds were setting and hardening into the reed block quicker than the scene could be reset for another take.
Cristoforo traveled with his father from Boston to New Jersey in the winter of 2016 to meet with Guenadiy Lazarov, a family friend and expert accordion repairman (profiled by the New York Times in January 2018). While Guenadiy tuned and repaired my actual accordion, Cristoforo shot some footage for research, footage which ultimately appears as flash cuts in the movie.
Part of the process behind Beeswax included hands-on lessons in beekeeping for the Beeswax cast & crew. Learning from Bee Friendly Austin honey farmer, Tanya Phillips, a solution to how to shoot Anna getting stung arose. Drone (male) bees do not have stingers and a jar of these critters was wrangled for the shoot with a dab of honey on child actress Lucky Cantu’s hand to coax them to stay in place. By a few takes in, Lucky had given nicknames to the various stunt bees and was re-positioning them herself when they fell off. Lucky and actor Tom Swift also worked hands-on with a live beehive of the full-stingered variety (and suitable protection). The off-camera crew, all shrouded in bee suits, looked like a circle of astronauts.
Cristoforo designed the film’s logo as part of the conceptualization for the film. The logo combines a bee, an accordion, and a broken heart (the wings).
Beeswax was shot entirely in Austin, TX at Boggy Creek Farm and Bee Friendly Honey Farm. Special thanks to The Russo Brothers Italian American Forum, The National Italian American Foundation, Italian Sons and Daughters of America, and Anthony and Joe Russo.