Awesome Monkey Productions horror feature, Murder Hill, lands a leading role deal with actor James Russo.
Russo, a Manhattan-born actor, whose versatile style has not only won him awards in cinema and stage but allowed him to play opposite of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Russo's award-winning performances started with Extremities with his sadistic torture of actress Farrah Fawcett, winning him a Theater World award. His roles extended with such greats as Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop to opposite Johnny Depp in The Ninth Gate and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.
Russo, a fan of the horror genre, read the script for Murder Hill, and liked what he saw for this type of project. He also had the chance to work with Director Lance Kawas whom he had worked with before on Paid in Full. Producers Mark & Anna Casadei of AMP Films knew Russo was the perfect fit for the role of Uncle Bobby. "Russo has the ability to take this role and run with it. His style, his approach and his talent alone is what is going to make this character pop on screen," said Mark.
Director Lance Kawas couldn't be happier with the deal, "He is a true professional and he is a hell of a lot of fun to work with!"
Russo is an intense and dependable "tough guy" performer. His first big film break was as a convenience store robber in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Possessed with a stare that can bring shivers down one's back, he has been quite the accessible villain over the years, memorably portraying a number of gritty psychopaths and gangsters, among other undesirables.
Russo rounds a great cast and is set to star alongside Tom Proctor, Basil Hoffman, and Marilyn Ghigliotti. His stunt double, James Logan, will also be joining him on set who has worked with for over twenty years.
Although the producers are being tight-lipped on the exact type of character Russo will be playing, they did state that he is the perfect fit for this role and it is an honor to have him. Murder Hill is set to start filming this year in association with FireRock Bay Pictures. More details coming soon.
When Awesome Monkey's (AMP Films) producers got wind of a musician who wanted a role in the upcoming feature film Murder Hill, they had some doubts. Those doubts quickly faded when they found out it was none other than Jeremy Spencer, the golden boy of percussion from the multi-million selling, hard-rockin' metal band, Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP).
"I got to admit, I had a fanboy moment! I have always admired his skill on a drum set, and his persona on stage is pure amazing to watch," said Mark. No stranger to music themselves, Mark and his wife Anna, screenwriters and producers of Murder Hill, are both musicians and huge fans of FFDP--so much so, that Anna wrote most of the script while listening to their albums. Mark said, "I would often come home and hear her jamming to the tunes of FFDP while the laptop keyboard smoked away to the beat! It was kind of cool to see."
Jeremy was introduced to the producers through a mutual friend, and they hit it off since day one. Jeremy said, "I was hooked on horror since I was six when I walked in on my parents watching The Exorcist, just as Regan's head was swiveling. I've been hooked from that point on." Jeremy is not only excited to work with Horror actor Tom Proctor, but he is excited to work with the production team as a whole. "This is going to be a lot of fun, and I know our Five Finger Death Punch fans will dig it!" said Jeremy.
Anna loved the idea of Jeremy coming on board, and she specifically wrote a part for him in the script that mirrors his on-stage bad-ass persona. Anna stated, "If you know his music, his style of playing, and his stage presence, you get a feel how that will relate on-screen."
The producers are not stopping with Jeremy. They want to feature the music of FFDP in the film. Mark said, "This is a great opportunity to showcase their music and get the feel of the film from that music."
Jeremy loves to give back to his fans. Jeremy has expressed a strong desire to make an appearance at Rome Free Academy for a "Day with Jeremy", schedule permitting. He plans to talk about his experiences as a professional musician and the importance of finding and following your passion in life. Mark stated, "I think every music kid at some point in high school wanted to be a rock star. For Jeremy to step aside from the production and take some time with the kids is truly what his character is all about."
This will be the first appearance for Jeremy in a feature film and no doubt, not his last.
Local Rome, New York native, Wayne River Sorrell, never thought he would run into any fellow Romans when he moved to Los Angeles two years ago to pursue his acting career. Not only did he run into two people from his hometown, but they just happened to be two Hollywood Producers from AMP Films who offered him a role in the feature horror film, Murder Hill, set for theatrical release this fall. To say the least, he was surprised.
Wayne, a local Roman and graduate of Oriskany High School, left the area two years ago to pursue his acting career. Producers Mark & Anna Casadei, were in Burbank, California just outside Warner Brothers Studios when they requested to see Wayne. Last year when AMP films was shooting the concept trailer for Murder Hill in Rome, NY, Wayne submitted an application. “Although we couldn’t use him at the time, there was something about him that caught our eye.” Mark said. Anna reviewed his reel and was impressed. Anna and Mark wrote the script for Murder Hill and realized he would be perfect for one of the roles. Mark said, “I can’t tell you how excited I was to be able to grab a local and cast them and the fact I was able to meet him here in Hollywood makes for the perfect setup. I can’t wait to see what he can do with the role.”
Wayne River Sorrell can be seen in the Teen Titans Project, a multitude of short films, and the award-winning horror film The Dark Tapes, set to release later this year. Wayne is set to play the friend of another local Central New Yorker who received a casting slot as well, Eric M. Wilson.
Eric, a native of Ilion, New York, was not only a great find through a mutual friend of the producers but Eric helped fill a vital spot at the last minute when a no-show happened on set.
Luck is everything and being available at the last minute can make an impression in this business. The co-star of Murder Hill, actress Marilyn Ghigliotti, was set to film a scene with another actor at a local diner. When the actor didn’t show, the producers immediately had to find someone qualified. After a dozen phone calls and a favor, Eric was on his way. “Eric was new, and although he didn’t have a lot of screen acting experience, he dove into it head-first and tackled the role with enthusiasm.” Anna said.
Mark was so impressed with Eric that Mark asked him to brush up on his skills. “I loved Eric's spirit and commitment to the project. He gave 110% at the time we needed it the most.” Mark said. “That is what I want to see in an actor.”
Eric was lucky enough to meet Tom Proctor from Guardians of the Galaxy and star of Murder Hill, who helped mold Eric with some great acting advice and industry knowledge. Since filming the Murder Hill teaser last year, Eric hasn't stopped acting. He has recently completed an episode of Quantico. Eric also stars in Solitude, a television series now available on Amazon.
Awesome Monkey Productions and FireRockBay Pictures are set to start filming the feature horror film, Murder Hill, Spring 2017 in Central, New York.
Brynn Lucas has joined the team of Awesome Monkey Productions (AMP) on their latest horror feature, Murder Hill. Producer, Mark Casadei, hired Brynn from her impressive resume and years of experience in the industry. Brynn is an executive at FireRock Bay Pictures out of Burbank, California and has produced several films and is an executive producer on The Face of Emmett Till. Brynn was a natural fit with her experience not only as a production manager but as a writer, producer and actress. Mark stated, “With that kind of experience already behind her, she will incorporate that skillset as a production manager and truly execute every aspect of a production in detail.”
Production managers are key in managing and executing the entire production. They work closely with all other heads of department to ensure that productions run smoothly, meet deadlines, and stay within budgets. They also act as the eyes and ears of the producer during filming which is vital for the overall success of the film.
Murder Hill is set to start filming in Rome, New York in spring 2017 and stars Tom Proctor, Basil Hoffman and Marilyn Ghigliotti. Brynn adds to the company’s mission goal to put more women behind the camera in key production roles.
Australian creative artist and director, Suzan Buttah, takes a moment to sit down with Awesome Monkey Productions duo, Anna & Mark Casadei. Suzan Battah is a Creative Artist Strategist who works with creative artists internationally to help unleash their talent to the world. She is an Award Winning Screenwriter and Film Director as well as an Author. The first launch of her new website for creative artists everywhere can be found here: https://suzanbattah.com
Enjoy and remember, any dream is possible when you take the time to pursue it!
AMP Films wrapped up its production with a final scene for its film, Legacy, starring Tom Proctor Tuesday. Legacy is a dramatic short written by Anna Casadei, and based on a true story about her father.
Both Producer, Mark Casadei. and Director, Claude Bauschinger, were careful in bringing this emotionally gripping story to life. "Between what this story is about and how Tom Proctor delivered it through his performance, there wasn't a dry eye on set," said Mark.
Claude was meticulous on how he organized and shot the scenes along with Cinematographer Sarah Cawley. Mark said, "Watching these two work together as they carefully pieced together each emotional trait into a scene was amazing."
For Claude, it was easy. "It's always great when you have a talented writer on a script. What she did with the script made my job a lot more enjoyable. I was able to concentrate on the actor and not worry about any of the writing." Claude continued, “From the inspirational writing to the inspired acting, from the amazing lensing to the phenomenal support we received all around, I could not have asked for a better experience! We have a great team in place! We have a great home base in Rome!” Creating a team of people who enjoy working together—and want to work together in the future—is what Awesome Monkey Productions is all about.
Tom Edgar from Rome, NY wasn’t originally cast in the dramatic short film. The producers decided to add him after his role in Murder Hill, knowing he had a lot more to offer on screen. "He was the right actor for this part. Although it’s a small role, it was integral to the story line." Anna said.
The film was shot in Utica, NY with the backdrop of Forest Hills and Calvary cemeteries. AMP Films received permission from both places once they learned what the film was about. "We couldn't be happier about our gracious hosts on both locations." Mark said. "It went smoothly, and they helped every step of the way, which made for a great shoot."
AMP Films now heads to post-production with Legacy. A fall release date is expected, and will hit the circuits of the larger film festivals first before it is released to the public. A public release date will be announced later this year.
Stay tuned, because Hollywood and AMP Films will be back in Central New York later this fall to shoot its feature film, Murder Hill in Rome, New York and surrounding areas. Tom Proctor, Basil Hoffman, and Marilyn Ghigliotti are set to star.
When you watch a great movie, what you see on screen is life-like. Your senses are fooled from the beautiful decorations to how the complex worlds grab you and help you visualize the scene. That is the talent of the art department on set along with the production designer. For a local Roman native, Lisa Pasqualetti, who now works between New York and Los Angeles, that is her life.
You may not even know it, but you have watched some of her creations on film already. From the complex scenery on Iron Man 3 to the Dubai Hotel marble lobby on Fast & Furious 7, Lisa was instrumental in creating it all. Naturally, the producers wanted to find out just how scary she can create things for Murder Hill. She has a special talent for making things looked aged and weathered, which is perfect for some of the designs on the film.
For Lisa, it all just happened to come together by chance on a family visit to her hometown. "I was visiting my family when my cousin asked me if I knew anything about this Hollywood production happening here locally?" said Lisa. "Excited to see something of this scale come to my hometown, I decided to contact the company." Production Assistant, Joshua Tillman, knew this was exactly what the producers were looking for and wasted no time in contacting them.
After looking at her resume and discussing their goals, Producers Mark & Anna Casadei agreed to bring her on to the production. "We were excited to see someone of her caliber and talent apply for this production. We love the fact that so much talent is being discovered in this local area that we didn't know existed." Mark said. "I think this is an exciting time for our team and the local community who get to see people they know make an impact on this industry."
So far several people locally have been added to the team for this production. We can't wait to see the scary things Lisa plans to do on set!
That old saying of, "Music soothes the savage beast," is no lie. Finding the right music is a beast of an operation on any film. It not only sets the tone of the scene, it sets the tone of the entire audience.
Once you sink in your seat at the theater and the room goes dark, two of your major senses kick in. Sight and Sound!
Music is the key, it captivates us into feeling what we need to feel when starring at the screen. So finding a talented composer is a carefully sought out skill with any production team. AMP Films was no exception with taking on that task, and with a little nudge from the star of Murder Hill, Tom Proctor, they stumbled on to the musical talent of Ghiya Rushidat.
A Jordanian native, Ghiya has a broad spectrum of musical genius. Her genres cover everything the producers were looking for. Although, she was initially sought out for the horrific spin on the feature Murder Hill, her music landed on the production of Legacy as well. AMP realized they found that diamond in the rough after listening to countless compositions from several composers.
How they narrowed the field was fairly easy once they talked with Ghiya. "After talking with her and listening to how she approaches her music, the emotion, the time, the mindset she puts herself in when composing, we knew we had found the right person." Producer Mark Casadei said. "It's not just how the song sounds musically in any horror film, it's how a song can literally creep you out without visually showing any scene on the big screen!"
You can even check out some of her musical talent on Soundcloud!.
Welcome to the team Ghiya, we can't wait to hear how you creep us out....musically that is!
When a local 8-year-old boy, Henry Dunlap, of Rome, New York planned on something big this summer, he didn't realize it would be in a film standing next to the star, Tom Proctor. AMP Films contacted his mother, Donna McEwan-Dunlap, and asked if the producers can use her son for a very important role in Murder Hill. Overexcited, Donna took no time in responding once she talked to her son. Henry was quoted as saying, "Mom, I knew I was destined for something great!" The production team got a great chuckle out of that and knew they had found their boy.
"We knew that Henry had the look we were going for in relation to Tom. From there our director, Claude Bauschinger, can work with him to get the best acting we can get out of him." said producer Mark Casadei. "Often this is done through the casting process and casting director but sometimes you just instantly find the look you need for on-screen. That was the case for this particular part."
At first, AMP had not planned for the part of a child, but the story began to shift when screenwriter, Anna Casadei, started to add certain elements to the story line. This made the producers realize that this small role will play a pivotal part in the upcoming film.
If all goes well for the scenes they are filming in May 2016, the production team may ask Henry back on future productions. "Sparking the excitement and passion in filmmaking in a younger generation has always been one of our goals", said Anna. "If we inspire one kid pursue a career in this industry then this would make it all worth it!"
We often hear about being in the right place at the right time. For a local waiter, Tom Edgar of Teddy's Restaurant in Rome, NY that moment came when his new guests just happened to be seated at his table. Those guest were the owners and operators of Awesome Monkey Productions, whose film Murder Hill, starring Tom Proctor, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Basil Hoffman, begins production next month.
Once the producers, Anna and Mark Casadei, heard Tom say his first words they knew right away. This is the guy. "That deep radio voice is what is needed for a particular part in the film." said Mark.
However, the deal gets even sweeter because Tom is no stranger to the entertainment world. Not only did they run into a guy with a great voice, but his native country of Scotland knows him all too well. Tom was born and raised in Scotland and as a young man was a talented vocalist who garnished not only vocalist of the year but entertainer of the year as well. That's right, the man with the extraordinary voice was just serving tables for a little extra cash and life in the United States. He even had gone onto doing the announcements at sporting events for the Golf Channel.
Tom said, "This is a great opportunity that I just couldn't pass up." The producers are glad they could bring in a local talent. Their goal is to share this production with the community and Tom is officially the first local talent hired. So this proves that you never know where an opportunity may come along to provide you a shot in a feature film. Have your best elevator pitch handy!