2017 INDIE SERIES AWARDS - BEST VISUAL EFFECTS (WINNER)
When Kevin Davis and I were developing The Shades, this episode was almost cut. It was so outlandish, surreal, and VFX heavy we didn't know if we would have the time or resources to pull it off.
But it was just too hilarious not to try. So with a total budget of less than $1,000 we sought to make it work.
Even with my background in VFX, this project was too much for one person to handle. I brought on three other artists who thankfully believed in the project enough to work for peanuts and the promise of a killer reel piece. Post production took about 4 months of sleepless nights and lost weekends.
But it was all worth it. I think this is the first narrative piece I've written & directed that I can feel my voice in and my fingerprints all over.
I wanted it to be a very obvious homage to Indiana Jones and classic action/adventure films. I owe our brilliant composer John Koutselinis a debt of gratitude for channelling the spirit of John Williams combined with that of an old Rabbi.
Oh, and this is the piece that won me the 2017 Indie Series Award for Best Visual Effects. Which is, you know, pretty cool I guess.
Half music video, half micro-documentary, this short explores the topic of gentrification in Brooklyn over the years while mirroring key themes in the song 'Pocket Full of Detritus' by Fred Baker, off of his 2012 independent release 'The Enemy.' The tone is both poignant and comical, as we explore the ever-changing face of Brooklyn by talking candidly with several generations of 'brooklynites,' native and otherwise.
This short premiered at the 2015 Brooklyn Film Festival in the heart of Williamsburg, the perfect location to screen this tongue-in-cheek send up of all things hipster and gentrified. Some members of the audience were definitely uncomfortably wriggling in their skinny jeans.
One of our earliest shoots for The Shades, and my first time ever directing while also on camera (yours truly playing a dumb-as-bricks satanist frat boy).
There are a few production errors and growing pains that are noticeable, as the cast had yet to truly gel together, but I look back on this shoot quite fondly.
Given our financial & equipment limitations (I think our total budget was something like $300) we definitely pulled something together that has moments I'm still quite proud of; I still love the trippy opening party montage, as well as the hilarious goat sacrifice at the end.
When James Aiello asked me to direct his highly personal script, I was honored... and a little intimidated. I wasn't sure if my often darkly comedic, cis-hetero-male voice was right to tell this hearbreaking coming out story.
But what I found was a script rooted deeply in familial ties, generational differences, and misunderstanding. It resonated with my own, similar Italian-American background; the characters spoke to me as clearly as if they were members of my own family.
And with that, I was in. And to punctuate this theme of family, I had the privilege of directing my own mother, Susan Galasso Barnett, in the role of Camille. No nepotism involved, she auditioned and she absolutely killed it.
The entire film was shot in a single, stressful production day. I had to cut my shot list in half and compromises were made all over to get this thing made. The stress translated well on screen, and I think the difficulty of that day helped push the emotional performances of all the actors.
I think we captured something raw and true, and as an exercise in filmmaking under pressure, I found the experience incredibly educational.