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Award-winning filmmaker from East Islip debuts ‘The One’ at Bellmore Movies

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After a two-year pandemic-induced delay, Sarah Martin carries an assortment of emotions as she prepares to debut her new film.

“It’s scary, I can’t believe it,” the award-winning director, editor, writer and producer said. “Even in two years, I’ve done so much since then. So I’m a little nervous, but I’ve watched back on it … it’s probably some of my best work in movies so far.”

The independent film maker raised in East Islip debuts “The One,” her third feature-length film release via her Silent Envy Productions, at Bellmore Movies and Showcase on Thursday, March 10.

Martin’s psychological thriller follows a man who signs up for an online dating site after a recent heartbreak. He becomes infatuated with a woman and flies 3,000 miles to meet her, only to discover things are not as good as they seem.

Without giving too much away, Martin promised quite the ride.

“There is nudity, and there is some graphic stuff, there is a lot of blood and gore and stuff like that,” said Martin, who now lives in Great Neck. “But there is also a love story involved, and it is a sad story, ultimately.”

Long Islanders are sure to recognize some local spots Martin used as sets. She filmed at the Grand Stage Diner in East Meadow, Long Island Antiques Center in Merrick, Eleanor’s Lounge in Bohemia, the Islandia Executive Plaza, and Express Gas in Brentwood. “The One” also filmed in an apartment in Little Italy and a cabin upstate in Kerhonkson.

Many viewers will likely recognize at least one of the film’s 75 cast members: Joseph Gannascoli, a Long Island native best known as Vito Spatafore on HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

“He’s basically one of those thug, gangster characters,” Martin said. “He comes to collect money from one of the characters that has a money problem and issues like that.”

An all-in-one artist

Martin started her foray into film as an actor, before tackling every task imaginable behind the scenes.

After a decade-long love of musical theater as a child and taking a lighting gig, she made her film debut in 2016’s “Back in the Day.”

That same year, she started Silent Envy Productions. As an actor herself, she said she was driven to finish every project to ensure actors had credits and usable material for their reels, an issue she knew well as an actor herself.

“The One” marks Martin’s third foray into the horror and thriller genre. It’s also her third feature-length piece that is entirely her own, from writing and casting to directing and editing.

The independent artist seeks to improve upon self-critiques as she pursues each new project. Her first time behind the camera was 2017’s “Nefarious,” and she said the color pallets between the two cameras she used did not match. She also said she underutilized closeups as she rushed to complete 2019’s “Menagerie.”

“I’m not perfect and I do these things myself,” Martin said. “I film, direct, edit, write, all myself. So it is tough to do it all. I really broke apart my past films because there’s always room for growth in film making.”

Striving for relatable horror

Before she dived into the film industry, Martin studied psychology at University at Albany, which she believes helps in her line of work.

“I just know human emotions and reactions, and that’s actually what I look for when I premier my films,” she said. “I try to see how the audience reacts and I hope they react in the way that I imagine, and so far, so good.”

After watching “The One” on Thursday at Bellmore Movies, Martin said she hopes her audience feels a sense of “relatability in the fact that online dating is such a hard situation.”

“You have to really weave through people, and you want to trust people so badly,” she added. “I want relatability, not in the sense that that’s going to happen to everyone, but I want everyone leaving my films to think ‘Oh my gosh, this could really happen.'”