Long Island Documentary, “By Day, By Night” Holds Second Screening, with One More to Follow

What the world perceives of you during the day might be the complete opposite of who you are and what you do at night. In this crazy thing called life, you can be whatever you want to be. The newly screened documentary “By Day, By Night: Working to Make People Laugh” delves into that phenomenon.

The 108-minute-long film was written, produced, and funded, by Long Island native Claudia Bonavita. It explores the comedy land space as it follows five unique individuals who work regular 9-5 jobs but hit the stand-up comedy stage when they clock-out. The jobs these people hold are some of the most non-comedic positions ever, but the passion to make people laugh is instilled in them, and that is highlighted in the documentary.

The five comedians the film follows are Ellen Orchid, Donna Moran, Lou Prats, Mitchell Shapiro, and Ruthann “Bernie” Collins.

Ellen Orchid holds an MD and Ph.D. in neuroscience. She has been working in psychiatry for 40- years but does stand-up comedy because it makes her feel “heightened and alive,” she said. Donna Moran is an Adult Protective Services caseworker who has returned to comedy after a hiatus to reconnect with her creative side. Lou Prats began as a court officer in the Bronx and now is the supervisor of the Domestic Violence Sector in the Nassau County District Court. Mitchell Shapiro is the founder of Help America Hear. Both deaf and blind, Shapiro has been doing comedy since 2015 and has performed at numerous comedy clubs across Long Island. Then there is Ruthann Collins is a Christian missionary who has taken to stand-up comedy to further open up in life.

All have their unique jobs but, belong to the comedic world they love. Along the way, they connected with Claudia Bonavita who has been doing stand-up comedy since 2019. The former Special Education Teacher, and now a professor at St. Joseph’s University, sparked the idea for the film with her fascination with the people she cast.

Bonavita has known the Director/Executive Producer of the documentary, John Silecchia since he was a kid and contacted him with her idea. After tons of hard work and movie creation classes, they the project. It took about two years to film, edit, and screen after the initial idea sparked.

“I’d say the hardest part of the process was just scheduling everything,” Director John Silecchia explained to the audience on screening night. “The movie was edited ten times before the screening that you’re seeing tonight.”

Filmmaker Claudia Bonavita. Photo by Joe Cook.

The documentary has some funny moments, ironically enough, and effectively deploys the use of animations to break it up.

“Each animation took about a week to do,” Silecchia explained.

The documentary will be featured in film festivals around Long Island, Upstate New York, and Pennsylvania. It’s a long process and they face some “uphill battles to get into some more festivals,” according to Bonavita.

If you are interested in seeing this documentary close to home, the third and probably final local screening will be held on March 11, 2024, at Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center in Patchogue, with a 7 p.m. start time.