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New London - From the street, Mort's Comics looks like an inviting small comic book shop. The large sign above the door is colorful and the storefront windows are filled with merchandise.
But to the dismay of a handful of comic book fans who have tried to shop at the Union Street storefront, Mort's Comics is not a comic book shop at all. In fact, it's not any kind of shop; it's the set of a movie being filmed in downtown New London.
The film, "The Missing Girl," was written and is directed by Connecticut native A.D. Calvo, and is being shot by a crew largely based in Connecticut.
It stars Robert Longstreet ("Take Shelter," "This is Martin Bonner"), Alexia Rasmussen ("The Comedy," "California Solo"), Eric Ladin ("The Killing") and Sonja Sohn ("The Wire").
At its surface, Calvo said, the film is about Mort, a "40-year-old man-child" who runs a comic book store and his struggle to connect with a hip female 20-something who works at his shop. When she leaves New London for a few days for a job interview, Mort thinks she has gone missing and wrongly assumes something awful has happened to her.
"Mort, our main character, creates this theory that she has been killed by a local Lothario … and he goes on a kind of detective, Hardy Boys pursuit of her," said producer Mike S. Ryan, of Greyshack Films.
But the film does not fit neatly into the mystery genre, or any genre, Calvo said. He said he tried to incorporate aspects of melancholy drama, mystery and comedy into the film while keeping the focus on the characters.
"The name 'The Missing Girl' kind of ties into a variety of things; the girl who has gone missing, it ties in to an unsolved crime that happened 15 years ago, and it ties into the lack of intimacy in his life," he said.
Longstreet, who plays Mort, said the film is, "a coming of age story for a late bloomer; it's redemption just before the fat lady sings."
Not only is the movie being filmed in New London, but the action is set here as well.
"We are representing New London as New London, which I'm really happy about as a resident here," said Jonas Sanchez, the film's locations manager and a New London resident. "We are pleased that it shows the breadth of New London; its economic diversity, its ethnic diversity. It's a nice feather in the cap, I think."
With the exception of one day filming in Brooklyn, the film will be shot entirely in New London. Filming will wrap up later this week, Calvo said.
In addition to the Union Street storefront, scenes from the film were also shot at City Hall, the Crocker House, Monica's State Street Diner, Union Station, an apartment on Methodist Street, Zambala Grocery Store and two houses off Montauk Avenue.
Ryan said the film tries to make New London more than just a backdrop and aims to feature it as its own character on the screen.
"We very much like the feeling of it; the brick, the old houses, the streets; it has a real atmosphere," he said. "There is just a lot of real character in this city which we're trying to capture in the film."
Ryan and Calvo said they hope to finish post-production of the film in time to apply for it to premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.