Raleigh band Sidecar Social Club stars in a short film with a ‘SNL’ connection

Courtesy of "Nicole Tienken Photography."

“At Midnight” is only onscreen for 15 minutes, but its intrigue and mystery lingers for a long time afterward. And with Raleigh jazz band Sidecar Social Club starring as a musical Greek chorus, it’s a film that sounds as good as it looks.

The film, which shows Thursday night at CAM Raleigh with a performance by the band, is set at a wedding that we learn is about to become a crime scene. And it leaves plenty unsaid about who may or may not be in on it.

“It’s very open-ended,” said writer/director Louis Leuci. “It has a lot of film-noir references and a ’70s crime-wave thrust to it, which you don’t see much anymore. It’s more about the mood and the way it leaves you feeling than concrete answers.”

Sidecar Social Club’s part in the film came about through online research. Leuci, whose day job is film production coordinator for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” needed an appropriately classy band not far from his old hometown of Wilmington, where he planned to shoot.

“They were the perfect fit for this film-noir type vibe we were going for,” he said. “It’s no exaggeration to say that I pictured someone exactly like them. They were just what we needed.”

“At Midnight” is Leuci’s third short film as he builds a portfolio beyond “Saturday Night Live.” Made for only around $10,000, it looks quite elegant and leaves much open for interpretation.

“When I read the script, I loved how ambiguous it was,” said Sidecar Social Club singer Lisa Wood. “You don’t know if the bride or groom are complicit, and there’s a lot of malice but not much violence. Louis didn’t give us any instructions other than to be dramatic and not feel like we had to stay in the background.”

Indeed, the band’s performance is sly enough to leave you wondering if they might be in on it, too.

“There’s almost a knowing quality to Lisa’s delivery,” Leuci said. “As if the band is complicit in what’s about to happen. The energy they’re giving off makes you wonder: Are they involved? Do they know something? The way the band interjects that is a credit to them.”


“At Midnight” will screen and Social Sidecar Club will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at CAM Raleigh, 409 WA. Martin St. The event is free but advance registration is required.

David Menconi has covered music and the arts for The News & Observer since 1991. He can be reached at 919-829-4759 or dmenconi@newsobserver.com.