Sunday, April 22, 2012


After producing a short film for director Soichiro Watanabe, and casting a young actor named Jerad Anderson in a small role, I was approached by Jerad about a project he and his wife were in the beginning stages of creating. He asked if I'd read the script of a young writer-director named Justin Lerner they had met at Sundance. Jerad and Kristina had recently created a production company and were looking for guidance on how to start the process of making a feature film. I was in the fortunate position of having one indie feature under my belt (and years of big-budget experience), and I was about to be the recipient of an amazing gift.

I had no idea to what extent my life was about to change... nor of the long journey I would be embarking on.

The script, of course, was GIRLFRIEND, and I was intrigued. I then watched Justin's short film and my mind was blown. You can watch it here and I'm sure you'll see why I became immediately interested.

At it's best, I thought, GIRLFRIEND would be an impressive and challenging film. At worst, it would be merely controversial. Either way, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I had a lot of questions and insisted that I would only be interested in coming aboard if I could be involved from a creative aspect. Jerad and Kristina listened to my notes and suggestions and agreed with most, if not all of them. The next step was to meet Justin.

We met in April of 2009. I liked him from the start and knew we'd work well together. My energy tends to be low-level calm, while Justin has a high-level, excited rate at which her operates (no doubt due to the gallons of caffeine he consumes each day). He had (and still has) an extreme passion for film and an innate knowledge of story, character, theme and tension. His cinematic style (as evidenced by his short), was incredibly well-honed, and I knew there would be a great collaboration between all of us.

Once I had spoken with Justin's attorney and been vetted by his agent at WME, I officially signed on and, for all intents and purposes, Pre-Production began.

The process was fairly simple at first. Jerad, Kristina and I submitted notes. Justin began polishing the script. I began to budget and create preliminary drafts of the schedule. We started the process with the Screen Actors Guild, engaged the talents of the excellent Brad Gilmore (our Casting Director), and started to look for talent.

By this point, we knew we had two actors - Jerad's friend and bandmate Jackson Rathbone, and Evan Sneider, who would be making his feature debut.

That's how it all began. Less than a month later, we had key crew members in Massachusetts scouting locations and four months after that, we were shooting thanks to Jerad and Kristina's ardent work locking down financing.

About a year after we began shooting, we made our debut at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews.

We went on to play the 2011 Festroia Int'l Film Festival, 2011 Moscow International Film Festival, The Galway Film Fleadh (in Ireland), 2011 Woods Hole Film Fest, White Sands Int'l, 2011 Mill Valley Film Fest, 2011 Flanders Int'l Film Fest (Ghent), 2011 Sao Paulo Film Festival, 2012 San Francisco Indie Fest and the 2012 Sonoma Int'l Film Fest.

Among the awards we picked up were the Audience Award at the 2011 IFP Gothsm Independent Film Awards, the Jury Prize for "Best Narrative Feature" at Woods Hole, the Audience Award for "Best of the Fest" at Woods Hole, the Grand Jury Prize at White Sands as well as Best Director, the "Fabulous Feature" Award at Hell's Half Mile and the Audience Award for "Best U.S. Feature Film" at Mill Valley.

Now, three years after this journey began for me, we are finally finished.

Last weekend, Justin and I attended the 15th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival.

This was, as far as we know, our last opportunity to see the film projected on a big screen. The audiences there were great, the Q and A's full of intelligent questions and the parties were overflowing with great wine and good food.

It was a fitting close to the process of carrying the film through it's creation and out into the world where it was meant to live... and now, on August 7th of this year, we'll be waiting to hear from all of the people who've supported us along the way - many of whom have yet to see the film, but who have remained steadfast and oh so kind - trumpeting our adventures to their friends and families and lifting our spirits when the walls placed before us seemed insurmountable.

And so, while there is a sadness in me that this particular journey is over, there is also a great satisfaction... and a sense of pride for what we (the filmmakers) have been able to accomplish... All along the way, we were operating on the edge, constantly facing peril; whether it was having our initial investors leave the project, or handling scheduling conflicts with talent, or avoiding impending weather that might have shut us down had it not come only hours later - and yet, we made it.

In closing, I'd just like to thank everyone who got us here (you know who you are)...

The list would be far too long to name all of you, but in particular, I simply must thank:

Jerad and Kristina Anderson for bringing me onto the film.
Justin Lerner for writing such a beautiful and moving screenplay and for having such a dynamic vision as a filmmaker.
Evan Sneider for his immense talent as an actor.
Scott Kirkley and Mike Whitecar for their particular skill and commitment.
Quyen Tran and her team (Alex Cason, Tom Clancy, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen, Alex DeMille, Matt Tomko et. al.) for their intense and wide-ranging talents and their incredible collective "eye."
Eric Bautista for giving his all and because his all is just so damned good.
To June for being the adorable, talented pixie that she is and making the characters come to life through that talent.
To my brother and friend Jeff Castelluccio for his art, focus, heart, rhythm and patience.
To my wife for her unending support of me in this crazy business and for her willingness to leap off the edge with me no matter what.

And last, but certainly not least, to all of my family members, friends and followers both here and on Facebook and Twitter... To all of those named above and everyone else who made the film possible, I thank you.

GIRLFRIEND will be released August 7th, 2012 by Strand Releasing and will be available via all major online retailers, such as Amazon and on VOD via sites like Netflix.

What's next?!

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