The Breakfast Club meets Goodfellas. That's how I described it. Four suburban friends stumble their way into being mistaken for mobsters. While that’s what I intended, it didn't exactly play out like that. A lot of people, or maybe I should say almost everyone, did not like or "get" my first film The Good Life.
I was fresh out of film school and anxious to make a movie. At the time, I was obsessed with David Lynch films and just discovered Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange which wasn’t exactly the best combination for a mainstream movie. While many were disappointed with the final film, we accomplished many things with this project:
-My producer Sam Dilisio and I made an ambitious ninety-minute feature film at a very low cost.
-I was a one man crew. Literally. No light guy. No sound guy. No assistants. Nothing. I held the camera and composed every shot.
-I edited the film myself on a Powermac G3 266MHz Apple computer with less than a gig of memory and about twenty gigs of total hard drive space. I used Adobe Premiere, After Effects and a film emulating program called Cinelook.
-It was one of the first films shot on the brand new Canon XL-1, and we were featured on several popular websites including Dark Horizons and the Canon XL-1 Watchdog.
-We had a ninety-second trailer for the movie transferred to 35mm film and attached it to the beginning of every movie that played at the Broad Theater in Souderton PA, including Mel Gibson’s Payback and Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. The trailer opened with a street sign for the town of Souderton, which always stunned the crowd and received applause. Everyone in the area was aware of the film.
-We received tons of press, often on the front page of newspapers.
-In November of 2000, the movie premiered at the Broad Theater. We had a formal, invite-only event followed by a weekend of continuous showings to the public with decent ticket sales.
What went wrong? The answer is simple. I just wasn't ready. On top of that, I put a lot of pressure on my friends by asking them to act in the film. Some of the them were great. Some of them were mediocre, but nobody was terrible, and they all gave it 100%. The script was nearly 130 pages long. We only filmed about half of it, which made it feel disjointed in parts. The whole process was an important learning experience for me and if I had the chance to make the movie today, it would be completely different. Regardless of how the film looked, I have to say that it had an amazing soundtrack thanks to the contributions of many bands around the country.
Here are the opening pages from the original script, which barely resembles the movie.
CLICK HERE to read this script excerpt.
Here is the filmed sequence that appeared in the film:
To open the video on a larger screen, go to this link: https://vimeo.com/113868502
While The Good Life received lots of press, it wasn’t always positive.
We filmed at a bar in Pottstown called The Point Spread which was owned by my neighbor, Anthony Moscardelli. In exchange for letting me film at his bar, all he asked for was a small speaking role, so I gave him the part of Detective Dubrow, named after Kevin Dubrow, the lead singer of the rock band Quiet Riot.
Anthony was pleasant to work with and had a great sense of humor. While editing The Good Life, I received news that he was arrested and charged with distributing drugs. This came as a shock to me, as I was unaware of any illegal activity involving Anthony or his bar. Months later, the bar closed down. Anthony maintained his innocence and was sentenced to sixteen years in state prison. At the time of this writing, he is scheduled to be released within a year.
Anthony gave what I felt was one of the best performances in the film.
CLICK HERE to read this script excerpt.
Here is the filmed version of his scene:
To open the video on a larger screen, go to this link: https://vimeo.com/113868500