"one shot is all we'll get, but it's all you need to change everything"
– Anthony

What to Stream This Weekend: “Rockaway,” a Boy’s Stark and Moving Tale of Surviving Domestic Violence

THE NEW YORKER – Jan 11, 2019  |  by Richard Brody

John J. Budion’s first feature, “Rockaway,” which opens Friday, January 11th, in limited release as well as streaming (including on Amazon and iTunes) and on video-on-demand, is an old-school independent film. It’s the work of an outsider, though one of a very insider-y kind. Budion, who wrote and directed the film, is a young veteran of the movie business—a longtime video-effects artist (on films including “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Zoolander 2”) and a prominent director of TV commercials. As a title card at the beginning of “Rockaway” states, the film is “inspired by true events,” and its basis in Budion’s painful experience accounts for both its terrifying emotional urgency and its aesthetics. The film is at the same time intensely personal and riddled with occasionally cringe-inducing clichés. No matter: “Rockaway” is an agonized and sharply moving film.

“Rockaway” picks up worldwide streaming and limited theatrical distribution

VARIETY – Dec 17, 2018  |  by Dave McNary

GRAVITAS VENTURES has acquired the rights to Worldwide Streaming of John J. Budion’s coming of age drama, ROCKAWAY, with PALADIN handling a limited theatrical release, including NYC. The revenge-filled first time feature for Budion will make its streaming debut on January 8th, 2019 with its theater release beginning on January 11th, 2019.

“Rockaway” Wins Best Feature and Best Director at Long Beach International Film Festival!

LI Herald – Aug 9, 2018  |  by Michael Smollins

Director John J. Budion’s coming of age drama sold out two venues and close to a thousand tickets in just a few days upon announcing it would close the Long Beach International film festival. Demand to see the film, which has been making waves across the country in 2018, was so high that the ticket sales website crashed due to the volume of people looking to snag a seat! The amazing weekend was wrapped up with the film tacking on two more amazing awards to their resume: BEST DIRECTOR and BEST FILM!

‘Rockaway’ keeps rocking in California

LI Herald – Dec 7, 2017  |  by Michael Smollins

Director John J. Budion’s film about his experiences growing up in East Rockaway has continued to create a buzz and has generated plenty of early success.

“Rockaway” debuted at the Flickers’ Rhode Island Film Festival in August and won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film. It then made its West Coast premiere at the Catalina Film Festival in California in September, where it was selected as Best U.S. Feature Film. Last Saturday, it won the award for Most Impactful Narrative Film at Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

Movie about East Rockaway named best feature at Catalina Film Festival

LI Herald – Oct 26, 2017  |  by Michael Smollins

Director John J. Budion said he was unsure how to react. There he stood as the audience gave his movie “Rockaway” a standing ovation as the credits rolled at the Catalina Film Festival in California on Sept. 30.

“I almost started choking up a little bit,” Budion recalled. “I just kind of stood there and was like, ‘Wow, people really like this. We made something that people really like, not just our friends and family.’ I thanked everyone and maybe did a little bit of a bow, but I don’t remember.”

Chris Pratt’s ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’ film due in 2019; LI native’s ‘Rockaway’ debuts

Newsday – Aug 9, 2017  |  by Rafer Guzmán

The debut feature from North Shore native John J. Budion will have its premiere at Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival on Sunday. Previously titled “Life Now, Life Then,” Budion’s semi-autobiographical film is set in East Rockaway (and was partly filmed there) and tells the story of two brothers raised by an abusive father. Budion’s young cast includes Keidrich Sellati (FX’s “The Americans”), Maxwell Apple (“Person to Person”) and James DiGiacomo (CBS’ “Kevin Can Wait”).

R.I. International Film Festival: Five movies not to miss

Providence Journal – Aug 7, 2017  |  by Andy Smith

“Rockaway” (feature, 87 minutes). This is a coming-of-age drama about two young brothers who dream of a Knicks championship (good luck with that) and a better life. The younger brother, John, relies on his older brother for protection from an abusive father. They’ve always been dependent on each other until they meet a group of boys who expand their world. It will be shown Sunday, Aug. 13, at 2:30 p.m. at the Metcalf Auditorium.

East Rockaway filmmaker shoots coming-of-age drama in his hometown

FIOS1 News – July 15, 2016  |  by Cecilia Dowd

There’s a movie in the works that may put a tiny Nassau County village on the map. “Life Now, Life Then,” a coming of age drama set in 1994 that was written and is being directed by East Rockaway native John J. Budion, is being filmed where he grew up. Budion says the film is inspired by true events.

“We follow young John and young Anthony as they’re battling an abusive father. It’s really just been the two of them growing up until they meet a group of boys who sort of help them through life’s problems,” Budion explains.

Long Island director filming in hometown

Fox5 News – July 7, 2016  |  by Baruch Shemtov

John Budion grew up in East Rockaway, New York, went on to have a successful career as a writer director an visual effects artist behind projects like ETRADE's talking baby campaign, and now he's back in his small hometown directing his first feature film, a coming of age drama called "Life Now, Life Then."

With Budion returning to his roots, his project is invigorating this village of around 10,000 residents. Beyond reliving his childhood, for Budion, this film has a greater purpose.

East Rockaway native directs coming-of-age film in his hometown

LI Herald – July 6, 2016  |  by Nick Ciccone

In 1994, John Budion was a teenager and a student at East Rockaway High School, trying to make sense of the world. Now, he’s directing an independent film based on his childhood, centered on that year — and he’s filming it in the village.

“My brother and I moved here in fourth grade, and we met a group of guys that just embraced us as one of them before we even knew them that well,” said Budion, who’s now 34. He attended Rhame Avenue Elementary School, and graduated from East Rockaway High in 1999.


An introvert recounts the summer of '94, when he and his brother plotted revenge against their abusive father.

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