An Inside Look At The Feature Film Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mattson Tomlin who’s an immensely talented, up and coming Los Angeles-based filmmaker behind the film, Solomon Grundy. I am a proud backer of the film project. I got to watch the film earlier this month and was really amazed how well the film turned out given its story complexity and attention to detail.

Read what Mattson had to say in our interesting Q and A below, there is lots to be learned from his experience.

1. What’s the story behind you wanting to develop “Solomon Grundy” into a film?

The story of how this film came to be born is a long and arduous one. When I was turning eighteen, I was really into old nursery rhymes, which is a strange kind of thing to say. I realized that all of these 5-20 line poems established colorful worlds, tones and characters masterfully and that really got me excited for some reason. I remembered the nursery rhyme by James Orchard Halliwell called Solomon Grundy and thought that it captured the struggle of living really beautifully. It kind of ballooned from there with these other ideas that I was very into imaginary friends and the hauntings of childhood that follow you into adulthood.

What really started the project was a seven minute short film I did in 2009 that got a few thousand hits a week or two after it was put on YouTube. That doesn’t sound like much, but for me at the time, it showed me that this little nursery rhyme and the colorful characters I saw coming out of it had an audience. Those thousands of hits on YouTube kind of gave me the courage (or stupidity) to say “Okay, this should be a feature.”

2. Who was involved with the project?

This project had a really chaotic journey, and there have been a lot of really, really talented and dedicated people who contributed to it. I have to give a lot of credit to the film’s composer, Pick Bickmore. Other than myself, he’s the only person who has been tied to the production in a really tangible “pick up the phone and get something done today” kind of way from the beginning in 2009 until a few weeks ago when we released.

When we shot in the summer of 2010, I was just turning 20 years old and the crew for production consisted pretty much exclusively of my really talented classmates at the SUNY Purchase Film Conservatory. I was the first one in the class to do a feature and everyone was extremely generous and excited at the prospect of someone taking such a big jump into the deep end. I think they wanted to see if I was jumping head first. Everyone worked for free and worked a really scattered schedule from July to December of 2010. We wrapped two days before Christmas.

After the film was wrapped, it kind of went into hibernation because I went directly into production on a really ambitious short film called Dream Lover. By the time I seriously went back to Grundy, a lot of the people who worked on it had moved onto other films of their own and we had lost all of the momentum to complete the film. I graduated from SUNY Purchase and went directly to the American Film Institute, which is where I’m finishing up now. I managed to find time to finish the movie with Pick, as well as my good friend and constant collaborator, Mike Pappa, who did some really stunning visual effects for the movie.

Throughout all of it, really tangible legitimacy and support came from Henry Fernaine who produced the film under his company Bedouin Features. Henry really served as an advisor and a godfather to the project and was always there to lend credibility to my student film when I needed it. It always helps to be able to say ‘from the producer of Revolutionary Road,’ so in a way, it feels like there were two or three crews at different stages of Grundy’s life.

3. How did you attract quality individuals to join your team on your filmmaking journey?

Passion, passion, passion. It’s really like lighter fluid, that stuff. Henry was willing to be the mountain of support because he saw this 19-year-old kid who just wanted to make a movie that felt really different and cool. I think it’s safe to say he really wanted to help foster that passion and point it in the right direction.

The crew worked for free, the cast worked for free, some people put two to three years of their life on this. It was a passion project for us all. People want to be excited. They want to believe in something and the rush you get when you have a dozen people running around a city with cameras at 3 am and you’re nowhere near your home, it’s unlike anything.

Mike Pappa, who has been my production designer on two subsequent films, I met after Grundy was shot and asked him to do the visual effects. This was nearly three years after I shot the film, and he had some questions before he agreed to do it. He said something to the effect of “this is an old movie for you, isn’t it kind of below where you’re at now?” My response was “well yeah, but it’s like my child and I love it, and think about how much cooler it will be when you get your hands on it.” I don’t think Mike would have agreed to put the hundreds of hours of effort he put into it if I had been lukewarm about it.

4. What are the core goals for the film?

I’m not entirely sure how to put that into words. I think when I was 19 and first making the movie, I would have said something about getting into Sundance and starting my career. I’m 23 now, and though that’s not very old, there’s wisdom that comes from having to carry a film for four years when you’re developing so many of your skills. I think the retroactive goal for the film now is that I really went off the deep end with experimenting in the editing and cinematography, when I watch this movie it just simply doesn’t feel like other movies I’ve seen. It was such a beautiful and difficult learning process. I made a lot of mistakes in this film and there’s a lot I would love to approach in a completely altered way but I’m only where I am now because of what I did before.

If it’s more a question about the film itself, I hope it gets you thinking. It’s a narrative film but very experimental in its storytelling and doesn’t spell everything out for you. Kind of like the poem, you have to take a step back from it and ask “what does that mean about life, what is he really saying there?” I hope that Halliwell and I are in alignment with that at least.

5. You successfully raised funding for your film on Kickstarter. How did that process go, and what did you learn about the crowdfunding model that you didn’t know until late in the campaign, or perhaps after it was complete?

My Kickstarting was a really blessed venture. I was really early in on the Kickstarter bubble, I believe one of their staffers told me at one point I was one of their first few hundred, and at the time, twelve grand ($12,000) was a lot of weight on Kickstarter.

My whole approach was to try to avoid the horse shit. I can’t say it any other way. I just kind of had to go out there and say “hey! I’m 19 and I have this awesome idea and I can’t sleep unless I do it and wouldn’t it be awesome if you helped me and gave me ten thousand dollars?” There’s something about that kind of honesty coming from this precocious teenager that I think really got strangers enthusiastic. I didn’t approach it through a contrived pretense of professionalism that a lot of people try to do because I would have been laughed out of the room.

6. What were the biggest project challenges and struggles to overcome?

The biggest challenge was a lack of know-how and a certain degree of winging it that ended up adding years to the production. Just through the necessity of having to break from production in order to shoot another short for school– by the time I returned for the first leg of post-production on Grundy, everyone had scattered and gone onto other things. I was used to cutting short films and having the whole process go 1-3 months from pre-production through completion. It never occurred to me with something the scale of Grundy that there would have to be a team assembled for post the same way that there was for production. I had a lot to learn.

7. How did your team collaboratively manage the project work flow?

With a lot of hiccups. That was the biggest learning process of all. I hadn’t learned how to delegate. I hadn’t learned how to effectively set boundaries and expectations that were very clear. I think it’s really important that each member of your team knows exactly what they are there to do, particularly when you’re working low budget and not paying anyone. The passion and enthusiasm is what will get the machine working but to keep it well-oiled and happy, being honest is always the best way to be.

I’ll be honest, this movie helped me make a lot of friendships and broke a few along the way. I think that particularly on such a guerrilla level, it’s easy for people to feel walked on. I had to learn some really hard lessons with friends that had gone in with guns blazing and walked out feeling under appreciated.

There’s this great quote comparing being a writer and a director. A writer can pick up a pen and write a line of description with one hand. For a director, that pencil weighs ten thousand pounds and is being controlled by fifty people. I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and you have to learn how to get everyone on the same page and to really be a leader. This movie was my crash course for learning those skills and I am lucky that everyone who was a part of it still speaks to me.

8. Do you have any tips and/or insights for effectively green lighting a film project?

I think that if you’re going off to make your short or your feature or whatever, find the two or three people who are going to be on your side no matter what. Find the people who are going to protect you from yourself when you want to cut out all of the dialogue in the movie or make the last act black and white. Find the people who are going to keep you level headed and understand your process and moods.

From there, it’s just a matter of choosing a project that you can stand the sight of for potentially year after year. When you’re on the independent level, there are no studios and no investors holding you to a delivery date. You could literally sit on a movie forever. I am passionate about Solomon Grundy (and anyone who knows the production knows that I love him as much as I hate him) and I would be ready to sit on him and keep kneading the material for more years if that’s what it took. Green light what you have the mettle to finish is the best insight I can give because you’re expected to hold yourself to your own standards, no one else is going to do it for you.

9. I have a copy of your film since I was a proud backer of your project, but can the public rent or buy your film yet to watch it for themselves?

Neville Archambault, the big guy who plays Solomon Grundy, was in this television show of the 90s called Acapulco Bay. It was on Mexican daytime television and it’s just great. He spent about a decade living in Mexico and thus, has a huge following coming out of Mexico. He’s got dozens of people hitting him up each week asking for Grundy with Spanish subtitles or a dub. There’s been enough demand for it, so right now I’m working on the subtitles and a new set of DVDs will be made available around Christmas.

At this point I’m in a unique place for experimenting with self-distribution. There’s a humble following to the movie that has suddenly ballooned from the initial Kickstarter release, and frankly, I made the movie to be seen, and I don’t think the general audience seeks out film festivals unless they are there to see a specific movie. While I would love to screen it with a packed audience in a theater, it’s a film that is tailored to more intimate settings. The short answer–keep plugged into our Facebook page and wait for the announcement in the next few weeks.

10. Any parting shots, do you have anything else to add?

Just a shameless plug. I’m at the American Film Institute now and am shooting my thesis film this January. I’m doing a little film for $60,000 and am raising the money for it as we speak. It’s called PERSUASION and I think it’s the most exciting thing I’ve worked on to date. It feels like a completely different kind of beast and as much as I would love for people to donate to it, I’m just as interested in the audiences’ engagement. I really want people to follow the process of getting the movie made, so at the very least, “Like” our Facebook page because I’ll be on there a lot trying to be as forthcoming as I can be about what making a movie with that kind of budget really is and I would love for you to come along for the ride.

We thank Mattson for his very genuine and insightful answers for filmmakers to learn from! We also wish him and his projects all the best going forward.

Enjoy this interview?! Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, animators and producers from our members on Spidvid.

And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.

BEREAVE Is a Film That Deserves To Get Produced

BEREAVE feature film

I recently had the opportunity to interview Evangelos and George Giovanis, the sensational filmmaking brothers who are the creators and screenwriters behind the feature film now in development entitled, “BEREAVE” which has already raised almost $40K on Kickstarter. The film’s story is about a fatally ill gentleman named Garvey who thinks he has figured out how to die. But when his beloved wife Evelyn goes missing, he must live to save her.

Read what the bros had to say in our interesting Q and A below, and give generously to their funding campaign so this intriguing film can reach its goal of $100K, and get made for the world to enjoy!

1. What’s the story behind your team wanting to develop “BEREAVE” into a feature film?

BEREAVE was written in 2007, and it was always intended to be a feature length film. Inspired by the death of a family friend, I started writing to deal with the thoughts that were invading my mind at the time. We hope to tell a touching story about an older, married man struggling with his mortality. Fatally ill and unable to reveal this secret to his family, Garvey (to be played by Malcolm McDowell) thinks he has figured out how to die alone. Suffering the mortal fears, Garvey’s behavior becomes erratic. But when his beloved wife Evelyn goes missing on their anniversary, he must live to save her! In that short time, Garvey realizes what life still has to offer and in following his journey; we do too.

In emails, in telephone calls and in face to face conversations, people that have read the script have told me that it touched them so deeply that they could only describe it as cathartic. They have all wished me to get it on the screen. Financing is difficult for such a character driven piece, so we are looking to the crowd to become the producers.

2. Who is involved with the project?

Our cast is truly our strongest asset and we are extremely fortunate they believe in our script so strongly: The legendary Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, The Artist) is attached to play GARVEY. The beautiful and talented Neve Campbell (Scream, Wild Things) is attached to play his daughter PENELOPE, and the charismatic JJ Feild (Captain America, Centurion) is attached to play STEVE his son. The BEREAVE team expects at least one more notable and recognizable star to join our cast.

Behind the scenes we have a very competent team involved with the film project, some of whom have premiered at the Sundance and Venice film festivals with their previous films. We are in talks with several established cinematographers, composers and other crew. We have an LOI from a post production company that has worked on Oscar Winning films and wish to provide us with services in exchange for equity – as they love our script. We also have a deal in place for equipment rentals, all we need is the budget!

3. You have some notable talent involved with your film including Malcolm McDowell and Neve Campbell, how did you successfully attract those elite actors and others to join your team?

As of the moment, the Giovanis brothers do not have a manager/talent agent, so it is extremely difficult to reach people ie. actors/producers. However, we are firm believers in ourselves, our resolve and our script – we feel, with the help of the crowd, we will overcome the usual obstacles all filmmakers face on a daily basis in the toil and struggle that is fund raising.

A mutual friend who had worked with Malcolm in the past introduced us. All of us felt he would be the perfect GARVEY. Malcolm read our script and fell in love with it. He signed on after reading it and we are all eager to make this film. Malcolm passed the script along to Neve & JJ and they too loved it :) Again, we are extremely fortunate to have such notable talent attached to our “little jewel of a movie” as Malcolm describes it.

4. What are the core goals for the film?

The core goals of the film are many, but the biggest one is to make it! If we manage to raise the funds via Kickstarter, we intend to make our film and submit to top tier festivals and hope for at least a platform release of 15 cities minimum. We are in talks with 4 distribution companies that have expressed interest in our script and we await their responses for possible sales estimates, potential pre-sales and possible representation. Who knows, maybe we’ll win an Oscar :) Completing and distributing a film such as this, will allow our careers to grow and will allow us to continue making film. My brother and I have proudly been working hard at this goal for over 12 years now. We have invested our life savings, our time, and some of our sanity into it all!

5. Over $37,000 has already been raised for your Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of this film. How can people help you’s reach your $100,000 funding goal, and what kinds of awesome rewards are being offered to contribute?

The BEREAVE campaign has just 17 days left to raise $100,000. Backers are rewarded with gestures of goodwill such as a digital download of the completed film, roles in the film, advanced film screenings, day passes on set, props from the set, dinner with Malcolm McDowell, voicemails, videos and more awesome perks!

By visiting the campaign home page here, potential contributors can check out the interesting pitch video and learn more about this project.

Thus far (up to September 9th, since that’s when we did this Q and A) the campaign has sold 2 Dinner Perks valued at $1,850 (an elaborate dinner with Malcolm McDowell, along with tickets to the premiere & other gifts), 2 Actor/Associate Producer Perks valued at $7,000 (an opportunity to have a speaking role in the film, along with tickets to the premiere & other gifts) and several other smaller perks. One dinner guest is flying all the way from England to dine with us! We need to make sure the food is delicious.

Fans of Malcolm McDowell, Neve Campbell and JJ Field are encouraged to pledge directly via our link and also help by spreading the word. Sharing on FB pages, Twitter and all other social media networking methods available to the good folks reading this will help alert the public of our campaign. If you donate, tell your friends about it – as it is much more organic that way. Also remember, if we don’t hit our $100K goal, you get your money back and if we do get funded (hopefully) we are making the film! So it’s a win/win if people are just willing to pitch in. We have faith in the crowd.

6. What have been the biggest project challenges and struggles to date?

I discuss some of the greatest challenges directly on the page. Not in great detail because I try to stay positive. There have been so many struggles… try to imagine 6 years worth of struggle, where every few months something goes awry! We have been on the brink, metaphorical “inches” away from the set, (3 times in the last 6 years to be exact) – but somehow our plans and hopes unravelled the last second. It can be severely exhausting and not for the weak of heart. They say ulcers are cured by tears or is it milk? Lol. I’m not sure, but it has been a struggle. Too long to list here and we might have to invent the technology and bring back Homer to tell this story! We try to look forward. Learn from the past, but look forward and try to protect hope. Hope is fragile, hope is like a tiny flame you try to ignite out of fallen, wooden twigs in the wilderness – under threatening storm clouds… that’s how it is. But we go on.

7. How does your team collaboratively manage the project work flow?

Lol, forgive me for laughing. As far as the Kickstarter campaign is concerned, we are a one man army. My brother is working as a boxing/Muay Thai instructor at XTC gym in Eagle Rock, CA and supports me right now; that’s how we are, love each other and stick together. I help out training the fighters too on Sundays. One of our fighters Alexander “The Great” Enriquez didn’t know how to throw a jab last year. This year he sits at 9W-2L and is So Cal champion and Adidas National Champion in his novice, amateur career. We move onto the open division with lot’s of expectations and pride.

So I primarily push the campaign. I wake up in the morning, eat a little something and basically live on the computer for 15 hours. So I don’t go crazy, I eat a little something again and I go for a 2 mile walk to feel the sun on my skin somewhere in the day. I do have friends though who have promised to get the word out and are trying via their social networks, but they have busy and hectic lives as well. So it’s a Herculean, Gorilla, Spartan mix by DJ Giovanis brothers hahahahaha.

8. Do you have any tips or insights for effectively green lighting a feature film?

We’ve made 3 films so far. But, up till now, we have self-financed all our films. My brother and I try to save up, and in the past have opened small restaurants (with the help of our parents THANKS mom & dad!) and we work them, try to save and sell them. We then pour/invest the money into the arts. So you can understand, that is a dangerous path with extremely high risk to the security and comfort of one’s future; but well worth it in my opinion. If one succeeds, that’s the goal. At worst we have a story to tell when we are old and sleep easy at night knowing we’re trying; let’s call it a dream.

If I had to give advice? I recommend doing your own film first, even a short. Build your resume/calling card, then after that, take your best script and approach producers. Once you do, hope and pray to meet a producer who understands your vision. But, attaching a quality actor(s) can certainly boost your odds. People take you very seriously once they realize you have actors who believe in your vision.

Most importantly, if you are going to make it, learn to deal with rejections. Try to convert the negative into something else. Always easier said than done, but doable!

9. When does the shooting of BEREAVE begin, and when can we get an early glimpse at a teaser or trailer?

We hope to be shooting in November. But, we can’t secure or lock down dates without budget in place. It just wouldn’t be reasonable or fair to ask our actors to commit to dates (they are committed to the film) until budget is in place. That’s proper etiquette. So once our Kickstarter campaign ends on October 5th (hopefully funded!) we lock the dates and immediately go into pre-production. Oh what a day!

Thank you to Jeremy and his team at Spidvid for taking the time to support us, the arts and our dream to make a film. You are awesome. Much love from the BEREAVE campaign and the Giovanis brothers.

We sincerely thank the Giovanis brothers for their genuine and insightful answers for filmmakers to learn from! We also wish them and their team all the best with BEREAVE going forward.

Enjoy this interview?! Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, animators and producers from our members on Spidvid.

And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.

The Expedition Will Be a Monster Of a Film

The Expedition - Feature Film

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ben Loyd Holmes who’s the writer, producer and an actor in the upcoming feature film “The Expedition.” This film tells the story about THE trip of a lifetime…. and adventure to die for…. taking the audience right in to the MONSTER genre. Read what Ben had to say in our interesting Q and A below.

1. What’s the story behind your team wanting to develop “The Expedition” into a feature film?

The expedition started as an idea I had a while back. I’ve always wanted to do a monster movie but they are hard to get right. After a lot of research I found a way to make the technology work for us in a way that would let us tell the right story. Once I knew that was possible I began developing the story outline, started seeking a director and got in touch with Adam. From there the production began growing into the monster it is today. We started shooting last Friday!

2. Who is involved with the project?

On the cast side we have: Sarah Mac, Neil Newbon, Daniel Caren, Ernesto Cantu, Ross O’Hennessy, Rebcca Kiser, Simon Burbage, Dolores Reynals and Angela Peters as key cast. There’s a lot of talent in that bunch. Oh yes, and I’m in there too! It’s a really strong cast that make the film so funny and engaging. It’s just great. Production team consists of Adam Spinks directing, SJ Evans and myself producing and Richard Osborne DP. As a film maker I feel really lucky to have such a great team behind the project.

3. You have some notable talent involved with your film, how did you successfully attract those individuals to join your team?

I think a good script and an original idea is a great place to start. We are lucky to have both of those and from that we have continued to innovate and make something we think is truly original. I’m really proud of the team we have put together, it really is a great bunch of people that all have a common goal.

4. What are the core goals for the film?

Well first and foremost it’s to make a fantastic, fun engaging film. We want to break new ground and do something that really grabs the audience! Beyond that the film has a bit of a message behind it, a really good one.. and several life lessons running through it, but that’s for the audience to discover.

5. The film is set to be released in 2014, is there a distribution or marketing strategy in place yet?

Yes we have a strategy in place, but we can’t say too much just yet!

The Expedition 1

6. What have been the biggest project challenges and struggles to date?

I think the biggest challenge has to be trying to work out the tech and innovating a few things to create the creatures. It’s a tricky thing to do right. The other problem is trying to get people to understand a how we have simplified the process of a project as ambitious as this in order to get them involved. I think the first thing people think is “How the hell are you gonna do that?” Which is pretty understandable.

7. How does your team collaboratively manage the project work flow?

We try to keep an eye on each other, ensure we are there to help each other meet deadlines and conquer obstacles. It can sometimes feel like a bit too much managing each other, but we try to support and not get in each others way. That’s what it’s all about, support. I have to be honest, the team we are working with right now has got to be some of the most positive, proactive, and driven people I’ve worked with. They are just great. What’s really key is there is passion and ‘can do’ attitudes. I firmly believe that 80% of success is ‘Being There’.. physically, emotionally, mentally. The team is always there for each other.

8. Do you have any tips or insights for effectively green lighting a feature film?

Yes, certainly, I think as I mentioned before, it starts with the idea and script. Everyone thinks there work is great, but make sure its tested and been pulled apart and re-built several times before you even have a working draft to start showing around. Also its important to think of something that’s achievable. A lot of people forget that! I’ve been in so many conversations with directors and producers and heard their simple ideas suddenly build up and soon after they are out of control. A producer once told me she was after $5.5M for her first film, a RomCom and no one on the team had any history apart from making a feature once that they never finished. It’s crazy. Work out a feasible project and create a small team, do things right, work out the business stuff. That’s it really!

9. Can we get an early glimpse of The Expedition?

There’s nothing I can give away JUST yet, but there’s lots of still and some first glances on out Facebook and Twitter and on our website where you can also find our free interactive games. We just started shooting, so there will be plenty going online very soon!

We thank Ben for his interesting answers for filmmakers to learn from! We also wish him and his team all the best with The Expedition going forward.

Enjoy this interview?! Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, animators and producers from our members on Spidvid.

And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.

An Exclusive Inside Look Into the Feature Film "Infiltrators"


I recently had the opportunity to interview Russ Pond, who’s the co-producer behind the intensely entertaining feature film “Infiltrators.”  The story: An ‘urban explorer’ is blackmailed into infiltrating a derelict building on the eve of its demolition in the hope he can recover a forgotten treasure. You can watch the eye-gripping trailer below, then read what Russ had to say about his team’s huge project in our interesting Q and A.

1. What’s the story behind you wanting to develop “Infiltrators” into a feature film?

I’d like to call it an opportunity project. We had a very interesting opportunity arise with some local Dallas folks regarding the Praetorian Building in downtown Dallas. It was built in 1909, and was deemed the first skyscraper in Dallas, and they were bringing it down. We learned about the building from some folks, and they allowed us to develop and shoot a movie around this building coming down.

Immediately, we started brainstorming on what kind of movie we could make that would tell a fun and interesting story. Writer and director, Michael Stokes, and the production team made frequent trips to the old building to think through what kind of story could be told. We wanted to focus on an action movie, which is a genre we love and which is very popular, including in the foreign markets. In just a few weeks, Michael had the story in his head, and he started writing it. Very quickly, we had a script.

2. Who is involved with the film project?

I was one of two primary producers on the project. Sally Helppie was the other producer. She works as an entertainment lawyer, and she’s produced a couple of indie films, including Exit Speed and The Beacon. Her husband, Michael Stokes, who has dozens of produced feature films and regularly works in television, was the writer and director for the project. We pulled in Alan Lefebvre as our DP. He was the DP on my film, Fissure. Frank Ceglia, our special effects coordinator, and John Cann, our stunt coordinator, both worked on Sally’s prior films. Our production designer, Eric Whitney, has worked on previous films for both Sally and me, as did a number of our other crew members.

3. What are your core goals for the film?

As with any venture, the primary goal for this film is to generate a profit. That starts with a good story and a strong production team. The script was written as an action genre, which we know sells well in the foreign markets. We cast it with solid actors who bring the story to life. We were able to shoot the film on the Arri Alexa camera, the most popular digital camera in Hollywood, and the film looks phenomenal! Each step we took in our production was to make this film a prime candidate for solid distribution.

4. What have been your biggest project challenges and struggles to date?

We had some specific timelines we had to hit because the site was an active demolition. They didn’t slow down for us. We had to work around them. They would work on prepping the building between 6am and 6pm, and then we’d shoot inside the building from 6pm to 6am. It was quite the juggling act. We also had other locations, including those that had to be shot during daytime hours, which made scheduling a challenge. And, of course, most of the film was shot during the hottest part of the year in Dallas.

5. How did you manage the project work flow?

We had a great production team. We worked well together, even under the crazy conditions. We were able to pull together key department heads who had solid experience in running a movie production. Working with an experienced production team helped keep our production on schedule and under budget.

6. You are going to the infamous Cannes Film Festival in May, what do you hope comes from that trip overseas?

We are actually attending the Cannes Film Market, not the Festival. At the Film Market, we’ll have a foreign sales agent to shop the film to the foreign buyers. We also will be marketing the domestic distribution. We’re already getting requests from potential sales agents and distributors based on the trailer alone.

7. Since releasing the film’s trailer, what has been the biggest surprise?

The trailer has been released for under a month, and we’re starting to get high-level distribution proposals on the trailer alone. That has been a wonderful surprise.

8. Do you have any tips for creating and producing a feature film?

It’s really all about the team you pull together. A solid team with good production experience is key. I don’t claim to know everything about movie production. What I do claim is that I know people who know everything about film production, and I get them to join me on these adventures in filmmaking.

9. Where can we watch your film’s trailer, and get more information about it?

You can check out our movie production page on Facebook.

And, you can watch our trailer above, or directly on YouTube.

We thank Russ for his insightful answers for filmmakers, screenwriters, directors, and actors to learn from! And wish him and his team all the best with their amazing film project going forward.

Enjoy this insightful interview? Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, and producers from Spidvid.

And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.

Work Hard and Have a Positive Attitude – Spidcast #19

We are back with one of our top Spidcast episodes to date this month (listen in below and subscribe to “Spidcast” on iTunes) with a focus on Keanu Reeves, web series, filmmaking, impersonations, directing, following your passions, and other interesting sound bites! October’s Spidcast features incredible guests; Chris Kenneally and Maurizio/Melanie Minichino. They are our amazingly talented, passionate, and insightful guests for our 19th episode of Spidcast on October 11th, 2012.

Listen to Spidcast #19 by clicking the play button below

Our Guests

Chris Kenneally picture and biography

Chris Kenneally lives in Brooklyn. He wrote, directed, and produced the documentary Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating. Chris has been post-production supervisor for many feature films including: The Squid and the Whale, You Can Count On Me, 13, Cadillac Records, among many others in his illustrious career.

Melanie Minichino

Melanie Minichino is a first generation Italian, born in New York. She started acting/comedy at eight years old, by making fun of her Italian father and all his buddies. She worked on shows in New York such as “The Sopranos,” “Law and Order,” was host for the “Speed Channel,” and various commercials while performing in plays and improv. She fell into the voice over world and started doing promos, commercials, and eventually cartoons. In 2009 she landed a job being the voice of Disney Junior, which brought her to Los Angeles.

Melanie is currently writing, producing, and starring in The Maurizio Show, a semi-scripted comedy web series in which she portrays her own Italian born father. Some of the artists who inspire the actress are: Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen, Tina Fey, and Lucille Ball. Being inspired by such greatness is the best motivation for Melanie’s creative process. Her ultimate goal is to be able to make the whole world laugh.

And here’s Melanie’s Spidvid profile.

We thank Chris, Melanie, and Maurizio for being such fun and inspirational guests!

If you’re interested in sponsoring next month’s Spidcast show, then get in touch and let’s discuss a deal. If you have something to say with regards to what Chris and Melanie talked about, then post a comment below, send out a tweet, or share around the social web to continue the conversation. Thanks for listening, and be sure to share this show with anyone in your network who can get value from it!

Full Show Transcript Below

Michael London: I am Michael London and welcome to Spidcast, the future of collaborative video production brought to you by Indie Source Magazine where they believe free is better. On this episode, we’ll visit with the writer and director of “Side by Side”, Chris Kenneally and we’ll also have a very special guest. He’s an actor, a personality, a great cook and all around cool cat plus the creator, writer and actor of “The Maurizio Show”, Melanie Minichino. Thanks for being with us today on Spidcast.

First up is Chris Kenneally. Chris, welcome to Spidcast.

Chris Kenneally: Thanks for having me on. I’m happy to be here.

Michael London: So, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Chris Kenneally: I’ve been working in the film business in New York City for about 13 years. I’ve done a lot of post production supervision and also I made a documentary a few years back called “Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating.” And my most recent movie is “Side by Side” that it’s a documentary about the art, science and impact of digital technology on movie making.

Michael London: And Chris, tell us about how collaboration has benefited you in your projects specifically “Side by Side”.

Chris Kenneally: Yes, at the most recent project, “Side by Side” partnered with Keanu Reeves and the idea for the movie really developed out of conversion he and I were having just about moviemaking and the way the technology is changed and the impact that’s having all across the board on work flow. So, it was a good partnership because having Keanu’s name obviously helped us be taken a little bit more seriously when we were reaching out to get interviews especially when we have people like Martin Scorsese or James Cameron or David Lynch.

I’m sure Keanu’s name goes a little bit further than mine but also Keanu is on other projects which he had to entrust a lot of the directing and writing part to the job to me. So, I think we both work really well together.

Michael London: And so how was it working with Keanu Reeves in a different capacity than an actor?

Chris Kenneally: Keanu produced the movie and he was the first one who, during the conversation we’re having and said, “Hey, Chris, why don’t you and I should make a documentary about this topic and go out and grab interviews with these people?” And that just kind of, I don’t people know really that side of Keanu but he’s really serious kind of scientific brain that really wants to know how everything works. We’re working on a movie called “Henry’s Crime” that he was acting and producing and I was the post supervisor on it and while we were working there, he wanted to know how everything works in the lab, the Technicolor and how the mix works and the color correction and all of that stuff. So, he’s a really good producer and I think it’s a side of him, people will see in this movie that probably didn’t know before.

Michael London: Terrific and I know there’s a back story prior to you working with a name like Keanu. So, tell us a little bit about your journey?

Chris Kenneally: So, I was in Boston after college and I was writing, trying to write short stories and things like that and had a chance to up write a script for someone’s college film school movie and working with them on that, I really realized that this is something I wanted to do at my life. So, I started volunteering at this place Boston Film and Video where I would answer the phones but then I would also get to be the TA on classes and I got to learn cinematography and things like that and use all their equipment.

I started making short films and then I moved to New York and worked for free as an intern at a place called The Shooting Gallery and they eventually hired me on to be a post production coordinator and that gave me the opportunity to work with a bunch of different directors on independent films and really work closely between the director and the producer and become post production supervisor. And all during that time, I was making from short films for my own and like I said, before I made a documentary called “Crazy Legs Conti” which ended up doing pretty well and getting into a bunch of film festivals Tribeca and Los Angeles and Australia and we ended up selling that to A&E in America and Channel 5 in the UK.

So, I continued to make short films while working as a post production supervisor and the reason I was able to meet and work with Keanu is I was post supervising the movie that he was acting in and producing. So, it hasn’t been an overnight success but it’s kind of been a steady climb in doing whatever I had to do to be in the game, I guess.

Michael London: And would you say that that path is still available to those jumping into the business today?

Chris Kenneally: I think so, yes. I mean, it’s somewhat of a sacrifice but if it’s something you’re passionate about, I think working as an intern for a company that you respect that’s making the kind of movies you like if you work really hard, hopefully, you get a chance. I mean you get a chance hopefully, you can prove yourself. I was bartending at night and working for free during the day and if I hadn’t gotten that break, I don’t know really where I would be today but I think it’s worth it and you can learn about the business and you can learn whether it’s something you actually want to do or not.

But working for free is tough but it’s definitely a way in the dark. I had to hire some people to work on this film “Side by Side” and we are really lucky with the guys we worked with but there’s always space for somebody that works hard and gets the job done and is responsible and follows through on what they say. I mean there’s nothing better for me to be able to task someone with a project and feel confident that at the end of the day, they’re going to come back to me with an update that it’s done and they’re not going to drop the ball. I mean those types of people are always in demand.

Michael London: You know, Chris, I think there’s a misconception that the moviemaking is filled with a junk of flakes and guffaws, but in reality, there are some very responsible hardworking people who do what they said they’re going to do, right?

Chris Kenneally: Absolutely. I think it’s a highly competitive field. Not everyone but a lot of people come out of college. Don’t even go to college. A lot of people want to be in the entertainment industry, in the film and movie industry and that’s one of the reasons they can get people to work these crazy hours and work for free as they’re coming up. So, I think it’s a very competitive field and therefore, the people that stick around and make it are the people who are hardworking, smart, competent people. It’s a total meritocracy. There’s really no room for anybody who screws up or wants to make it a big party and not do what they say. You’re not going to last very long.

Michael London: And so what advice would you have for someone just jumping into the filmmaking business right now?

Chris Kenneally: I would tell someone jumping today to just be passionate about it, do the work. If you have an idea for a movie or a short set of dates that you’re going to shoot it, this is the day we’re going to do it and you’ll be surprised how motivated you can make yourself and also it sounds like a cliché, but the harder you work, the luckier you’d get. Once you set things in motion, there are so many other people out there who want to be involved in projects, a good project, the bad project. It doesn’t matter. People, once they see that you’re serious. You have a little thing that you want to shoot. You have an idea. You have a camera. People will jump in and help you.

Sometimes, very professional people, everyone is looking for a good project. It’s not always, so he isn’t always looking to make a bunch of money. Sometimes, it’s exciting to work with a young person who’s passionate and has an idea and it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes or it comes out like crap, that’s part of the process and when you’re making mistakes, you’re learning and as long as you’re out there doing it, you’re going to get better and better.

And then when someone comes along, like in my case, like Keanu, hey, he saw that I had made a documentary before. He got a chance to watch that and I think that’s why he approached me. If I hadn’t been kind of in trenches all those years, still trying to make shorts and learning the craft, I might not have been in the position where someone would actually put their trust in me for a bigger project. So, just go out there and do it and enjoy while you’re doing it and good things will happen to you if you work hard.

Michael London: So, where can we see some of your stuff, Chris?

Chris Kenneally: The “Crazy Legs” documentary, I believe is on Netflix and “Side by Side” should be in a bunch of film festivals this summer all around the world, in the United States and then in August, they’ll be kind of a limited theatrical release, I believe and then a big VOD on cable, Video on Demand, and then some of the other movies I’ve post supervised, I’m sure they’re on Netflix and places like that.

Michael London: Excellent. So, Chris, so by listening to this podcast today, we’ll say to someone else, “Hey, I’d just heard this and it’s a great piece of advice,” give us some great words of wisdom.

Chris Kenneally: My great words of wisdom that I want to be remembered by, I guess, work hard and have a positive attitude and be responsible and really try to enjoy what you’re doing. It just makes the work better and it makes life better for you and everybody.

Michael London: Chris, thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.

Chris Kenneally: Thanks. I feel like, I just gave a motivational speech. So that was fun.

Michael London: Spidcast, brought to you by Indie Source Magazine, the fastest growing independent filmmaker resource and the only free publication of its kind. Their mission is to bring you not only stories of the industries highly celebrated but also stories and insights from players in all areas of the media creation process. At Indie Source, they believe free is better and we agree. Visit them at

We continue now with a special guest. He has his own web series. Welcome Maurizio.

Maurizio: Oh, how are you? It’s so nice to be here. Before we start, I have a question and what is this podcast? I’m on the radio right now or I’m on television?

Michael London: Well, actually, you are on television without the pictures.

Maurizio: Good, because I get so worried but I dressed all up so nice right now for you but I realized you’re not seeing me, right?

Michael London: Maurizio, I can assure our audience that you are very, very handsome fellow.

Maurizio: Yes, right now. We’re really nice, suit the (masculino) shoes, you’ll love these and I’m making a sauce right now so if I seem a little distracted, don’t worry, I’m making the sauce.

Michael London: Well, then that takes us to another topic. Is it sauce or is it gravy?

Maurizio: Oh, see, this is the problem. Gravy, you will never call this gravy in Italy. We call La Salsa.

Michael London: Got it, La Salsa.

Maurizio: Sometimes, American Italian call it gravy, it’s okay. And as long as it tastes good, it’s fine with me.

Michael London: Well, that’s fine with me too. So, tell us a bit about your story, Maurizio.

Maurizio: I come from Italy. I moved here to United States to go to Juilliard. I’m a piano player, you did not know? I play the piano very nice and I meet my wife, Nanette. She’s beautiful. She has a beautiful leg, this lady. She’s beautiful. So I stay here, United States because this country have so much to offer like a grill, like you grill on a Sunday time. The Americans grill or the hamburger, I love this and you get the best deals in United States. So, they decide to do show about me, I don’t know why, but I’m very happy about this.

Michael London: As well you should be. And I hear that your show is based on true stories, all things that have happened to you, is that right?

Maurizio: Yes, yes. This is these things. If you watch this season, in one episode, I play soccer and I lose one ball but this happened. This is true. One time I played so hard, I lose the ball. So, now, I take good care of the one I have left if you know what I mean, right? So, this happened in my life and like, for example, in another episode, I make a deal with the car dealership like I go lower and he’d go higher and then I go even lower but this is how Italians, we like to make the best deal. But I don’t understand. Everybody loves this show. They make a big deal but all Italians are like these. All Italians are like these so in Italy, this is normal, you know what I mean?

Michael London: So, wait a second, now you’re trying to make a deal for the car, are you a Ferrari man or a Lamborghini man?

Maurizio: You know what? I tell you what I really love, Alfa Romeo, you know this car?

Michael London: Yes, absolutely.

Maurizio: Yes, this is my favorite car, the two-seater speeder, Alfa Romeo is the best car. I love this car.

Michael London: That work for me. So, where do you see your series headed in the future?

Maurizio: Well, you want to know the truth, I probably see Maurizio series coming to like a big TV station like HBO Original Series. It would be like Maurizio Show and then it’d be me the star with all my friends. Also, I see in the future all the ladies love Maurizio. Oh, sorry, my wife, she’s listening. Sorry, Nanette, they look but no touch.

Michael London: Look but no touch, a good policy I’d say. So, Maurizio, I hear you had an interesting experience at the LA Web Series Festival.

Maurizio: Oh, yes. I go because I don’t know if I win award, if I don’t, I just want to have a good time. So, they asked Maurizio to be on this panel for women in their web series and they get confused when I show up because I’m not a woman. But it’s okay because I make everybody laugh. I was running around all over the place having a good time and everybody loves Maurizio. Everybody get a kick out of me, they laughed. We have a good time. Actually, we won the two big awards. We won the Best Comedy Web Series and the Best Actress in the Comedy Web Series. Again, I’m confused why they say actress but it’s okay because it’s an award.

Michael London: Well, congratulations on that. And tell us about the other stuff—

Maurizio: Hold on to me, but I forgot, I have a salsa on the stove. Oh, (Italian language) I’m sorry. I have to go and check on the salsa right now. I think I burn, you know what I pass the phone over to my daughter, Melanie, okay? I come back, okay?

Michael London: Okay, Maurizio. Take care, now.

Maurizio: Ciao. Ciao, ciao. Here, take the phone, Mel.

Melanie Minichino: Hello?

Michael London: Melanie?

Melanie Minichino: Hi, Michael. Thanks for having me on.

Michael London: You’re quite welcome. Your buddy there is quite the pistol.

Melanie Minichino: You know what? He is quite the character and he is just like nonstop while he’s a walking show so please excuse him if he’s a little all over the place.

Michael London: He is full of life. So, tell us, is his sauce excellent or what?

Melanie Minichino: I have to say that his sauce is the best sauce in the world and I would go home every Sunday and we’d have dinner and I’d have pasta and some meatballs and I’d be like heaven. I miss it.

Michael London: Sounds wonderful. So, Melanie, tell us a bit about your history with Maurizio.

Melanie Minichino: Okay, well, Maurizio is, I’m portraying my father, my real Italian father and I kind of grew up imitating him because he’s such a character and he really liked, people think I over exaggerate and then when they meet him, they’re like, “Wow, you’re actually not over exaggerating him at all.” He’s even like worse than how I portray him, not worse but he’s more of a character.

So, it was pretty much ingrained in me. So, it’s easy for me to step into that character.

Michael London: I know I got to ask, what does dad think about all this?

Melanie Minichino: At first, when he saw the series, my mom told me that he would watch it really closely and be like, “(Drivel,) is that me? Like is that really how I act?” But then he really, in the Maurizio fashion, really got a kick out of it and showed all his friends and was like, he kind of is like a mini celebrity amongst his group of friends even though it’s not him in it. He really enjoys it and he doesn’t take offense to it and he sometimes even calls me and will tell me stories of things that happened to like incorporate into the show. So, I think he’s kind of thinking as a producer on the show sometimes.

Michael London: A producer, yes. Probably waiting for a check as we speak.

Melanie Minichino: Yes, right? He’s waiting for his commission. He’s like, “When do I get my 10%?” I’m like when do I get mine?

Michael London: So, now, in one of the episodes, Maurizio does standup comedy. Have you ever done standup?

Melanie Minichino: I have never done standup and to be honest, it really scares me a lot. I give standup comedian so much credit because it’s so hard even when we did the episode when Maurizio did standup, it was easier because when you’re in character, it gives you creative freedom to really do anything but it’s still really hard because it’s just you up there and everyone is like just sitting there and waiting for you to make them laugh. So, it really scares me. Maybe one day, I’ll attempt it but I don’t know. I highly doubt it.

Michael London: So, no standup but tell us about the things you have done.

Melanie Minichino: Well, so I’m from New York, born and raised in New York and with Italian background. We actually lived in Italy when I was a little girl so I learned Italian and we spoke it in the house and I started, I think when I was about 8 and I was on and off. I was really shy as a kid so I didn’t get really far because I get to auditions and then like not say a word. So, I didn’t get hired a lot.

But then I started acting again after high school and I was doing pretty well in New York. I did like the New York shows, The Sopranos and Law and Order and things like that and then I started doing voice-overs which I kind of totally fell into and I auditioned for the promo voice of the Disney Junior Channel from New York and I got it and I had to move to LA for it which is really hard for me because my family and friends are all in New York but I did it. I took the plunge. I figured what’s so bad about going to LA with a job?

So, I came here and I’ve been here for about two years now and we started the Maurizio Show, I’d say about a year ago and we’d have 14 episodes and it’s got a lot of really good press and it’s opened a lot of doors for me. So, that’s kind of where I’m at now.

Michael London: Very cool and you know what? There is still a huge fan base so please tell us, what do we see you as on The Sopranos?

Melanie Minichino: Oh, I was actually in the very last episode which was so cool to be in the last episode. I was actually in the last casting session that they ever had for The Sopranos and I played Bobby Bacala. If you watched the show, you know who he is. (He’s missed). And at the end, he dies. So, if you didn’t watch it, sorry, you should have watched it but he dies and I’m at a funeral and I have a scene with everyone, Meadow and A.J. and it was really cool to be there for the last episode too because everyone was like really emotional and that was just a really cool experience.

Michael London: Oh, man, what a wonderful experience to be part of that filmmaking history.

Melanie Minichino: Yes, yes. It really, really was and David Chase directed us and it was really cool.

Michael London: So, Melanie, share with us a bit about you venturing into the online video world.

Melanie Minichino: Well, when I first got to LA, everyone has been doing web series for a really long time and my manager, Dan Cotoia was like, “I really want you to do something and showcase your comedy because no one knows that you’re funny.” He introduced me to another partner of his which is Brian Bellinkoff who shoots and edits The Maurizio Show and we had a little meeting and I had had this idea for a while to play my father just because I just knew it so well. And we were like, you know what? Let’s just start shooting, just me and Brian, we would write an episode—not really write out the episode but write the plot points, write the (arc) and then kind of just improvise from there because I found the improvising was much easier for me and we found a lot like the gold from improvising and we just literally, the next week, started shooting and started going in public and being like let’s try this in public because there’s a big public element to most episodes that we shoot kind of like hidden camera style.

And we were pleasantly surprised with what came out. I mean I didn’t know. I didn’t think—I didn’t know if it was going to be a total disaster or if it was going to be a real success and it turned out to be really funny and people seemed to really, really like Maurizio and he’s a really endearing character.

Michael London: He is indeed that and what would you say to people who are just thinking about getting into filmmaking?

Melanie Minichino: Well, when people asked me that, I usually say just to start, because that’s the hardest part is just to get on your feet and start, whether it’d be starting to write, starting to just shoot, starting to, if you have character you want to play, starting to just go shopping for character’s clothes and start experimenting with that character or videotaping yourself just to start because once you get that ball rolling and you never look back. And I’ve tried it, that’s the hardest part. People do a lot of talking, “I’m going to do this, I’m going to try this. I think this is a good idea,” and if you just do it, really you could find out what works and what doesn’t work.

Michael London: Great advice, Melanie. How has collaboration helped in your projects?

Melanie Minichino: Well, we’ve collaborated with a couple like Taryn Southern, she has a really big online presence. I’m sure you guys know who she is and Catie Upton who is more of a model and some other people along the way but the best thing about collaborating is just cross promotion especially to get people to watch your stuff and then for your audience to watch whoever you’re collaborating with. So, it really benefits both people because I doubt people who are checking out Catie Upton that’s like bikini model, are looking for this like Italian man. But then when they watched it, they realized, oh, this is actually really funny and vice versa.

So, I suggest that to any web creators to cross promote and find people that they want to work with and also when you work with other artists, it’s just fun. It’s interesting. They add another flavor whatever it’s that you’re doing.

Michael London: And tell us about some things you have coming up.

Melanie Minichino: I just did an episode of Kung Fu Panda which is a cartoon wherein I know they have the movie but I just did an episode. I play a snow leopard and we’re also developing couple other web series. One web series where I play like a Latina like Latina singer kind who’s ready to drop her single, so, that is to me we’re working on and then another web series that’s, I can’t really talk about too much about it we haven’t released a lot of information but I’ll be playing lots of different characters probably like about 10 characters and that also will have another kind of public hidden-camera element to it as well. So, you can look out for that.

Michael London: All right, chance to give a little shameless plug here. Where can we see all things Melanie?

Melanie Minichino: Oh, well, you can see all things Melanie, you can go to, I have a website, it’s and you can see what’s going on. You can also see The Maurizio Show at as well and those sites, there’s Twitter and Facebook links to all that and you can check that out.

Michael London: Melanie Minichino, thank you for joining us today on Spidcast.

Melanie Minichino: Thank you so much. Oh, you know what, actually, Maurizio is looking at me right now. He’s like giving me a look that he wants to say goodbye. Can you hold on a second? I want to give the phone to him.

Michael London: Absolutely.

Maurizio: So, sorry. So, sorry, I was making the sauce, I thought I forgot. I have a question for you now, Michael. I see this people on this Spidcast with the sticker that says, Spidcast. I would like one of these stickers, is this a possibility?

Michael London: Yes. I usually trade stickers for pasta dinners.

Maurizio: You are very smart man. Okay, I give you this. You come over here, I make you a nice pasta, maybe a little salchicha (Bolognese), I don’t know. Also, I give you the secret, okay? But only between you and me, okay?

Michael London: Well, that’s an offer I can’t refuse. Maurizio, thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.

Maurizio: No, thank you very much. I’m so excited to see, to hear this, to see myself on TV.

Michael London: TV without pictures.

Maurizio: Oh, yes, that’s right, oh good. That’s right, I forget. Yes, I’m so excited.

Michael London: Thanks for listening to our Spidcast show. We appreciate your time and attention. You can now join the conversion at or on our Spidvid blog and you can join our collaborative filmmaking community at Tune in next month for another entertaining and informative episode of Spidcast.