It was September 4, 2010. On The Waterfront Film Festival - Rockford, Illinois. Director Matthew Cichella, Producer Mitch Wright, and their families were sitting in the back of The New Sullivan Theater. "Memoirs Of A Stinky Sofa" by Travis Legge had just ended and after a few moments, the familiar theme and opening video for "Never Submit Entertainment" filled the screen.
"I remember looking over at Mitch and telling him, 'we got to follow Travis? We're screwed.'" explained Matthew Cichella. "Travis is great. And he was there too promote Raymond Did It that night. I was sure that after the ovation people gave him, we were screwed. How do you follow that?"
Well, that answer would come seven minutes later when the "Directed By Matthew Cichella" credit filled the screen.
"I will never forget what it felt like." Remembers Matthew. "That place was so loud ...the ovation was so loud ...I never in a million years expected that."
"Innocent Looks" was said to have gotten the loudest ovation of the weekend for any of the short films. And while it did not win the best film award, Matthew remembers it differently.
"I think we were all winners that night. To finally have a Film Festival here in Rockford. And for our local indies to finally get out there for people to see. That was awesome. I can't thank Raging Pervy Gear enough for putting that festival together. Rockford is rich with film talent and we are just now getting to see that!"
WATCH INNOCENT LOOKS NOW!
What would you do to be come ....FAMOUS?
FAMOUS, Never Submit Entertainment's follow up with to Innocent Looks, was filmed in August 2010. It was originally not scheduled to be filmed until later in the year, but a twenty minute conversation between Matthew Cichella and Melissa Revels changed all that.
"It was the funniest thing. I went to Mel and asked her about playing the lead role in my upcoming film One Night Stand. She seemed interested, but that interest quickly faded once I mentioned Famous." Matthew remembers. "The moment I told her the story of Famous you could see the look in her eyes - she wanted this role. She didn't care about One Night Stand or anything else after that. All she wanted to do was talk about Famous. It was great."
Matthew originally had several people in mind for the role of Gia, an inspiring actress whose life is flipped upside down when she meets photographer Jimmy Stevens, but knew that Melissa was the only one who could pull off the role.
"From the first moment I told her about the film, she saw it from the same viewpoint I did. And that was terrific. Famous hits on a very touchy subject, and by all means, it's not your typical short film. Mel knew right away how the film needed to be shot and what was needed for this movie to work. It was an emotional roller coaster that was going to takes her acting places she had never been before and she was 100% invested."
But casting Gia was the easy part. The hard part? Casting Jimmy Stevens! Jimmy Stevens, while not the center piece of the story, would make or break the film. The character is so complex. He is the most despicable person you could ever meet, but at the same time has this charisma, this "it factor" that makes you want to like him.
"I didn't think I was ever going to be able to cast Jimmy Stevens. I must have talked to over a hundred actors. And there were some great, very talented people interested. But something was always missing. Some didn't look the part, but could act it out. Others looked it, but couldn't act to save their life. I was about to give up ...and then I got an email."
The email came from Giovanni Pauletti. It was very unprofessional, very inappropriate and very much Jimmy Stevens. Using profanity and an unbelievable amount of arrogance, Giovanni explained that if Matthew did not choose him for the role he would regret it.No one else could pull the role off like he could.
"Giovanni basically told me that if I hired any of the other jagoffs (his words, not mine) I would regret it. Funny thing was he didn't have a professional headshot and he didn't have any real video clips or audition footage to speak of. It was basically his word." Matthew said, recalling the emails. "I was running out of time. A choice had to be made. But while Giovanni was very blunt with his words, there was a passion that was undeniable. I could feel it through his emails and I knew this was the guy I wanted. Luckily, not only can the guy act, but he's pretty damn amazing at it."
In the end, Matthew Cichella, Mitch Wright II, Nathan Stein, Giovanni Pauletti and Melissa Revels turned out to be a dream team as they went on to make a short film that has had people talking for months.
FAMOUS is now available on DVD and also Digital Download!
And if your still on the fence, please check out the trailer below. It very well may change your mind.