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An Interview with Pietro D'Alessio, Producer of Watch Island

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2010

Pietro D'Alessio on (re)Search my Trash

 

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You are currently (pre-)producing the film Watch Island. In a few words, what's the movie about?

 

Watch Island is a 1980's horror throwback featuring a killer dubbed The Cameraman. The indie film is a slasher based on a a reality show, FREAKED, which has gone terribly wrong.

 

Watch Island has been described as Big Brother meets Friday the 13th - please explain!

 

The reality show in the movie, FREAKED, takes place in a house fully wired with cameras, much like Big Brother. Our killer, Fester Huges aka The Cameraman moves with the same confidence and determination as Jason.

 

Anything you can already give away about Watch Island's resident killer, the Cameraman, and the actor who plays him, Tim Sylvia?

 

First of all, we couldn't be more excited about Tim Sylvia, a 5 time UFC Champion, joining our cast. Tim is a huge man and so is Fester. Fester Huges aka The Cameraman, will evolve and become stronger throughout the franchise. He was treated badly as a boy because of his innocent hobby and now, well, payback is going to be hell for everyone he encounters.

 

You are planning to expand Watch Island into a franchise. What do you have in store for later episodes?

 

We already have positioned several actors in the cast for the sequels. Each sequel will all revolve from/around the original script, written by Brian Pickard. The next one is close to being ready to go and the third is in active development.

 

The film seems to be inspired by slasher movies from the 1980's. Is that a genre especially dear to you?

 

Many of us on our team grew up with the 80's movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween. These films captured a time when we all enjoyed being scared together as a group - we'd like to make horror/slasher movies fun again.

 

How was the film originally conceived, and a few words about your script writer Brian Pickard?

 

Bradley Hvolbeck jr had a house in Watch Hill, RI that inspired him and a general area (RI/CT) that was supportive of him making a film. He had an outline that simply didn't work. Brian tossed that aside and started over, creating a story and killer around the Watch Hill concept that Brad pitched. That soon became Watch Island. Brian wrote the first draft in three days and it was amazing. Bradley and our director, Matt Zettell, were blown away. Brian is truly a talented force to be reckoned with and his writing will be compared to some of the greats as he continues to build on his first few projects.

 

What can you tell us about Watch Island's director Matt Zettell?

 

The man can make a horror film for little to no money, create buzz and sell his ideas/films. He is an immense professional and team player. His enthusiasm for the project has been contagious. Both Cellar Door and Resurrection County, two of his other films found buyers and distribution quickly so we knew he was the perfect component to make this a reality, Matt and Bradley met working together as assistant directors.

 

A few words about Watch Island's female lead, Gabrielle Stone, and her character?

 

It's always exciting to discover someone new but Gabrielle has already been steadily making a name for herself well beyond her mother being the legendary Dee Wallace. Gabrielle is in an acting class with Melinda Chilton (Margaret Huges in Watch Island), and Melinda suggested we take a look at her. We loved her work, her look and her energy, which is always positive. She really fit the Jackie Hall-character. We pitched the project and she fell in love with the script. Gabrielle has a lot of films/projects lensing and she'll be a household name pretty quickly.

 

What can you tell us about Craig Lamar Traylor and his role in Watch Island?

 

We needed someone quirky and fun to join the cast as Deon, a sensitive/funny/tough character, and Craig has been creating his own work recently. We felt that the Malcolm in the Middle-star would also deliver us a great TV audience.

 

With Sean Kanan and Billy Magnussen, you also have two soap stars in the cast of Watch Island. A few words about them?

 

I actually found Sean Kanan through Twitter and started a brief conversation with him in hopes he would join Proper Manors, a soap I have in preproduction. When I joined Kevin MacDonald's Slayers as producer, I mentioned him to a few women and well, they went wild. I felt like his international appeal from being on the hits The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless would deliver us a foreign distributor without any issues. Not only is Mr. Kanan considered a soap hunk, he is also an accomplished actor and producer and had a film at the Cannes Film Festival this year. 

 

Billy Magnussen, also in Joel Schumacher's Twelve, was a discovery I made at this years Sundance Film Festival and he simply blew me away with his performance. After the screening I told him I expected him to be the next big film star from As the World Turns. It was pure serendipity that this role came up and I had seen Billy. He has a lot of projects lined up so having him involved is a huge win for us. On a personal note - As the World Turns was a soap I grew up with that inspired my entertainment career ,and Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire is my favorite movie of all time and was a life changing film for me, so to have all of this come together is quite emotional and demonstrated to me that I am indeed on the path I was meant to explore.

 

And speaking of soaps, you are currently also developing a soap opera yourself, Proper Manors. What can you tell us about that project of yours?

 

The project is loosely based on my own life growing up in the small town of Plant City, FL as the son of a mysteriously successful Italian businessman and a well to do Southern stepmother who ruled with a loving yet iron fist. That same town was full of scandals and secrets. I relied on a best friend to help me navigate safely through my teen years into adulthood. Proper Manors is a fictionalized version of that life and the alternate reality I often created to survive and understand my role in the world. It is, in the end, a love note to all I have ever known and all the people who have touched my life.

 

Let's return to Watch Island once more. Anyone else in the cast you want to mention?

 

Yes, we also have VH1's Scream Queen's Lina So, teen movie icon Sam Doumit, Leslie Taylor (also appearing in NBC's Parks & Recreation), NY theatre actress Marion Markham and my personal muse, actress Melinda Chilton, who also appears in the upcoming films Saving Grace B. Jones, Rid of Me, Intimacy, Expecting Her, and the travel show Two Days In...

 

Watch Island is a co-production between your company Alexius Omnimedia and Bradley Hvolbeck jr's Breaking Waves Entertainment. A few words about that man and his company?

 

Bradley is one of those types of producers that would hire all of his friends and pay them a million dollars if he could. He has a huge heart and a mind that never stops coming up with creative ideas. He is a kind soul who has never had an enemy and because of that packaging this film has been a dream. Bradley also created a show dedicated to kids health and fitness called Clown Cooking and an award winning documentary Behind the Red Nose.

 

The 64 Dollar question: When and where will Watch Island be out (tentatively)?

 

We are aiming for a 2011 release. I am in talks with several major distributors. We intend to go theatrical first, then expand into all the other areas.

 

Your and your film's website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, whatever else?

 

My Social Media Producer, Alex DiVincenzo, has all that under control. 

Here are all the links for the websites. Right now some of them are limited, but once production starts things will really get going:
Official site: http://watchislandfilm.com - Currently just a splash page, full site will launch soon.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/watchislandfilm - Probably the fastest way to stay in touch with the happenings.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Watch-Island/121517664527600 - Like, the page for updates.
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/watchislandfilm
Production blog: http://watchislandfilm.tumblr.com - Will be completely active when shooting starts with blogs about production

 

You've also got another project in development right now, Slayers. A few words about that one?

 

Slayers was also written by Brian Pickard. It will be directed by Kevin MacDonald (Beg & The Witching Hour) and stars Melinda Chilton as the vampire queen, Sean Kanan as her love interest and up and coming horror stars Sarah Nicklin Reed, Michael Reed and Brandon Stumpf as well as Pickard, making his acting debut.

 

Any other upcoming projects you want to talk about?

 

I just joined Kevin MacDonald's The Witching Hour as a producer and also have the romantic comedy, Six to Sex, in development as well as the drama From May to December and a holiday film, An Old Fashioned Christmas Story."

I am also the creator of an entertainment news magazine talk show called The Leslie Taylor Show.

 

Back in the day, you started your showbiz career as an actor, first on stage, then also on screen. Why did you pick up acting in the first place and what can you tell us about your early days?

 

I was in community college and not really going anywhere. A friend of mine invited me to come help him with auditions for a community theatre play. The next day he offered me a role, which I took to help out. We did a scene from Hamlet and I fell in love with the stage as Hamlet died in my arms. I would never be here without community theatre so I am forever grateful to Plant City Entertainment in Plant City, FL for helping me find my way into this industry. Acting allowed me to travel whenever I wanted -- which is my number one passion. 

 

Even when you were first and foremost an actor, you did quite a bit of behind-the-scenes work and eventually started producing. Was this a constant step you took or just part of an evolutionary process?

 

Not really. I am still a actor and star in a web series called Round the Square on www.shortstream.tv and acted in at least half a dozen films in the last six months and have another film coming out produced by National Lampoon. I was one of those "how can I help you?" people with the PA's and AD's and soon I was working in agencies and offices and one position led to another. It was an 18 month stint at Mandalay Sports Entertainment, part of Peter Guber's Mandalay Pictures, where I learned the most. My bosses there, Jeff Clanagan and Stevie "Black" Lockett taught me how to be confident and make it happen. After that I set my goals more clearly and started moving forward.

 

Ever thought of trying your hands on directing?

 

I have directed a few small plays and will probably try my hand at directing some of Proper Manors but for now I am addicted to producing and creating content.

 

Nowadays, do you see yourself more as an actor or a producer, and what do you enjoy more?

 

I am an actor/producer/casting director. I love them all evenly but make sure when I am wearing one hat I don't slip into another.

 

You just have to talk for a bit about one of your past productions, just because it has such a great title - The Sex Doll She-Bitch!

 

The Sex Doll She-Bitch is a B gorehorror comedy about a blow up sex doll the rest of the world views as real who is in an abusive relationship. One day her husband, played by Sitara Falcon, hits her one time too many and she then goes on a killing spree taking out every man who who tries to victimize her. It's ultimately a film about a woman fighting back. Writer/director Jaison H. Costley created the film and it was one of the most fun films I have ever produced. It is available to the public but not available to rent yet - working on that.

 

Any other of your past films you want to talk about?

 

Each film is an experience. I enjoyed Lost with Dean Cain and Danny Trejo. I was the associate producer and casting director. It was a hard shoot but taught me a lot. The shorts Women & Menu, Decker and Your Two O'Clock is Here, all shot in Chicago, are near and dear to my heart as a producer but unfortunately haven't been made available to the public. I hope, with a higher profile as a producer, to be able to go back and introduce many of those films to the general public.

 

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Actors (or indeed actresses) who inspire you?

 

I had an unhealthy James Dean addiction for years. I also love Martin Landau, Brando, Pacino, De Niro, Hoffman and Joseph Gordon Leavitt. When it comes to the actresses Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Hubbard and Jeanne Cooper top my list. I also remain inspired by up and coming talent like Melinda Chilton as well as the women from my community theatre in Plant City, FL.

 

Producers who serve as models for your career?

 

Garry Marshall, Sydney Pollack, Ryan Murphy, Alan Ball and William J. Bell are some of my models.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Off the top of my head - St. Elmo's Fire, Mysterious Skin, Donnie Darko, Motorcycle Diaries, Mambo Italiano, Nightmare on Elm Street, Porky's, Airplane, Arthur, and Dead Poets Society.

 

And of course, movies you really deplored?

 

War of the Worlds, Battlefield Earth, Look Who's Talking, & Deep Impact, to name a few.

 

Anything else you are dying to mention I have just forgotten to ask?

 

I live for world travel, am addicted to diet coke and love my dog, Oscar.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

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