Anna Casadei's short film, "Legacy" garnishes awards across the nation. The heart wrenching story based on her father has been recognized recently as the how good writing "Can pack a punch in just nine minutes," - Colony Short Film Festival.
Anna who wrote and co-produced the short along with her husband Mark who produced/directed the film, have been busy travelling the country promoting the film and its story. Anna wrote the script Legacy in hopes of shedding some light from a personal tragedy her family went through. The dramatic short film was shot in 2017 in Calvary Cemetery and Forest Hills Cemetery, both in Utica, NY.
Legacy is based on the true story of how Anna's father tried to cope with the death of his son. The film focuses on a father's transformation as he tries to come to grips at his son's gravesite on his birthday, centering around a conversation and how an interruption can either destroy the moment or help it all together.
At the end of August of 2017, the film was a wrap, and AMP Films started the submission process at festivals worldwide. They quickly received ten nominations and eight awards that include Best Drama, Best Writer, Best Overall Film, Merits of Achievement in Filmmaking for Editing and Sound Design. To date, Legacy has 16 nominations and 13 wins. "We are proud of our team and what we accomplished with this," said Anna.
"This has been a very humbling experience to see people connect with this film on a very emotional level. We underestimated the impact this had for some as they have personally dealt with a tragic lost in their family. They feel we hit the emotional nail on the head and appreciated the fact we brought to light what a father might go through." says Mark.
That was one of the main reasons why the film was done. Anna teamed up with www.compassionatefriends.org, a non-for profit grief counseling team nationwide to shed the light on a topic we often don't discuss, a father's grieving process. For the team at AMP Films it wasn't just about the art of of film making but more of the healing from a family who lost something dear to their hearts.
A recent interview with the creators of the project can be seen here from the studios of 96.1FM The Eagle in New York. https://youtu.be/CcRf4iGxoJs
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 has just started his acting career and can be seen in recently completed episode of Quantico. Eric also has a recurring role in Solitude, a television series now available on Amazon.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
It's always great to find and grab a talent that has spent years in the entertainment industry perfecting their craft. AMP Films was lucky enough to do that when they approached Basil Hoffman to co-star, along with Marilyn Ghigliotti from the movie Clerks, in the upcoming horror thriller, Murder Hill.
Basil met screenwriters/producers, Anna and Mark Casadei, several years ago and after reading a few of their scripts he simply said, "Please, call me for every script you have a role for me to do. It would be my honor to to work with such great writing!"
It's not often writers get to hear such accolades of their work, so when Murder Hill hit development, Mark and Anna knew just whom to approach for one of the most scariest roles in the film.
"Casting Basil was something we were waiting to do long before we hit development on this particular project. When he said yes, the honor was all ours. Basil brings a level of professionalism and mentorship that you dream to work with." said Mark.
"Horror is not really what Basil is known for, but that's what makes it exciting," said Anna. "Our goal is to write intriguing characters that actors want to play. I can't wait to see what he does with this role."
Basil's history is just as impressive. He is best known for his work with distinguished film directors including Peter Bogdanovich, Mario Monicelli, Richard Benjamin, Carl Reiner (twice), Peter Medak (five times) and Alan J. Pakula (twice); Academy Award winners Ethan and Joel Coen, Paolo Sorrentino, Michel Hazanavicius, Steven Spielberg,Delbert Mann, Blake Edwards, Stanley Donen, Sydney Pollack, Ron Howard and Robert Redford (twice); and many others.
He has acted in such great films as The Artist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Hail, Caesar! His latest film, Rio, I Love You, debuts this week. He has been a part of numerous television shows.
Basil has not only signed onto Murder Hill but has agreed to become an integral cast member on other upcoming projects with AMP Films. His long-time manager Brad LeMack told the writing duo, "He is very excited to work with you and I want to make sure that happens." We are proud to have Basil for this production. We look forward to a continued working relationship and even better friendship off the screen!