Sunday, March 9, 2014

Indie Film Spotlight - Fratello

Welcome to Indie Film Spotlight, a monthly column that will focus on independent films you may not have otherwise had a chance to ever hear about. Watch for exclusive content like cast and crew interviews and anything else we can throw your way!

Gerard Garilli, along with co-writer Kenneth Fleming and director Tony Picciotti, have created a family drama that takes two brothers through a personal struggle for survival that ultimately affects everyone around them. Garilli also stars in the picture along with Steve Mason, Justine Garilli, Pe'er Klein, and Joseph R. Gannascoli.

Jimmy (Gerard Garilli) and Todd (Mason) have been as close as brother's can possibly be and stand by each other's side no matter what kind of trouble they find themselves getting in to. While Jimmy struggles to make ends meet and keep a roof over his head, Todd has lived with the threat of alcohol looming over his and his girlfriend Michelle's (Justine Garilli) lives for some time. After a celebration dinner turns ugly, Todd finds himself in a desperate situation that only his brother can help him out of and, after they decide to leave town, they seem to only be able to dig themselves deeper into a hole they may not ever get out of.

One thing I love about independent films is just how unexpected they can be in just about every aspect of the filmmaking process. What really stands out about Fratello is how Gerard Garilli seems to have a very specific vision of what he wanted the movie to be and that effort clearly shows up on the screen.

I would say the main strength of the movie has to be how the story weaves through these people's lives using both Jimmy and Todd as the binding force connecting them all. The decisions made by the two brothers are used in great contrast as ways to show how the people around them are affected and even the most well intended of choices can turn out to have dire consequences for everyone involved.

While the acting performances are a little raw, everyone is very believable and, of course, having a heavyweight like Mr. Joseph R. Gannascoli on board, does nothing but help things along. Where the movie is lacking in production value, it makes up for in honest emotion and concise storytelling. You can really see a depth of talent coming from both behind and in front of the camera and it will be interesting to see what this virtual and literal family has in store down the road.

Check out my exclusive interview with Gerard Garilli!
My first question came to mind while watching the story as this seems to be a very personal story. Can you give a little insight on where it originated from and what inspired it?

Gerard Garilli:
Believe it or not the story had nothing to do with my life. I wanted to create a gritty, realistic, and dark story that would challenge me and set it on my home turf in Northern New Jersey. I feel anybody with a sibling can relate to the story. No matter how much a sibling gets on your last nerve you got their back no matter what. I have two sisters who I adore. I never had a brother.

I met Steve Mason, who plays Todd, and Pe'er Klein, who plays Matt, on a TV pilot we shot that wasn't picked up. The three of us hit it off on set and knew right away we wanted to collaborate on projects together. I'm a big movie fan. I have over 1,000 Blu Rays so watching movies was basically my filmmaking school. The few movies that played a major inspiration for Fratello were "The Machinist" starring Christian Bale & obviously "The Sopranos" because it was shot in similar locations we shot and there's a cast member from the show that's in Fratello.
Did you have any issues with securing locations? They all seem like very real, lived in places.

Gerard Garilli:
Oh yeah. The locations were pretty specific. I wanted it to look as real as possible. We had no make up artist except for a few scenes. I basically went to each establishment and asked if we could shoot here and they all gave me their blessing and I'm very thankful.
The shootout scene is actually pretty impressive given the budget you were working with. What was the most difficult part of putting that together?

Gerard Garilli:
Thank you! Yeah we were on a budget. It's crazy how money goes while on set. I never realized it until we started shooting. I didn't go to film school. I feel like the best film school is being on a set and actually filming it. The only difficult part about that scene was the extras didn't show up! I had 15 extras locked in for that scene. So I called a bunch of my friends and my dad came down. You can actually see him in the background.
Wow, that's an amazing story and perfect that you were able to count on family to make it happen. Thank you very much for giving some insight into the creative process behind Fratello.

Finally, where can people find Fratello?

Gerard Garilli:
Thank you so much! Fratello is real close to locking down digital distribution, but for now you can purchase the DVD at as well as on


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