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An Interview with Joseph McGee, Director of Tony Martone

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2022

Films directed by Joseph McGee on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Tony Martone - in a few words, what is it about?

 

For my film; it’s about a conflict between rival families, the Martones and the Amatos, but I wanted to put my spin on it. Basically it’s about Ray Amato having a lot of heat from the FBI in NYC; they decide to go into East Providence and invade the Martone territory. This suggestion was made by a Nicky the fixer on purpose because he’s got his hand in both families. In this film also shown a few surprises a few members are working both sides of the family. It’s got violence, great acting and an incredible story.

 

With Tony Martone being a gangster movie, is this a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites?

 

It most definitely is — a crime / mafia film is something I always wanted to dabble into. Most of my films fall into psychological thriller or horror. So this was due to happen. This film is up for best mob flavored production at MLC awards in Green Bay in September. MLC stands for Mobster - Latino - Comedy.

 

Apart from movies, did you do any research into the mobs of Rhode Island?

 

There is some activity in Providence, RI, and we know about activity in Federal Hill. But this fictional story I wanted to do a city not really known for mob activity but make it plausible. I think we accomplished that well. Martone is really a feared and respected member of East Providence.

 

Other sources of inspiration when writing Tony Martone?

 

This movie was inspired by one of my favorite films, Donnie Brasco, where it’s more in a modern setting — in that film they had an FBI informant. I wanted to have a few twists in the film and leave the ending kind of open.

 

Tony Martone features quite a few mob hits, murders, and the like - so do talk about your movie's approach to violence!

 

We made a real garrote wire out of piano wire. We made some handles and that prop was seen in the film. I wanted to keep a simple and effective weapon theme in the movie. The other inspiration was the bag over the head to suffocate someone, I wanted to incorporate a lot of subtle mafia flavored components into the film.

 

A few words about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I wanted to incorporate some nice themed locations into the film. We did film many scenes in East Providence, RI. What makes this film unique is we filmed in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. I think having a budget to move around into different states and locations is important ,so we incorporated the right locations for the film.

 

What can you tell us abouut Tony Martone's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Just to name a few and some back stories on cast:

I saw some of Danny Fainman’s acting, and he had the right style and look and personality to play Ray Amato. He was cast. Another new member I worked with for the first time was Gio Drasconi who played Angelo in the film, one of the Amatos. He reminded me of a Joe Pesci-style actor. He likes shovels too — watch the film. I worked with David Torres jr for the first timem who had many qualities for the perfect mobster. I enjoyed his style and flair into the character of Stefano. We cast Mario Carneiro in the lead role of Tony Martone. He’s got the right look and believability to play the all-feared Don, which he pulled off beautifully. It was great seeing that come to life. Nicky Scarz has a larger than life believability in his performance, and he was cast to play Nicky the fixer who plays both sides. All the rest of the cast was hand selected because something stood out — and they performed their roles beautifully.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

Some funny stories on set. Mario Carneiro was laying down in a coffin for hours. He said to the funeral staff, "This is very uncomfortable." The funeral staff said they never received any complaints.

 

The graffiti wall for the scene depicted as Dirtyburg, MA, which was filmed in Jamaica Plain, MASS, had the wall designed by Artist @ Large, a local artist in the area, for use in film.

 

During the filming of the Amato establishment scene in Rehoboth, MA, the cast and crew finished filming during a Tornado warning and a hail storm just passed on Nov 13, 2021.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Tony Martone?

 

We premiered this on July 8th at The Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket, RIm with public and cast and crew. The most reacted scene was when Mario Carneiro was in the coffin and the surprise twist and reaction from his wife. The other was the end twist before the end credits. People were also wondering if there will be a sequel. It was also a sad night; my father Stephen McGee died at home. He was my father and composer. I also eventually renamed my production company from McGee Productions to Hawk Studios. The reason of this honor is explained below — I put a loving memory in his honor at the end of the film.

 

July 9, 2022

I received the phone call from my mother with some heart wrenching news. My father and composer Stephen McGee had passed away from home on July 8 around 8/10pm. This was our last collaboration together — he was ascending during our premiere to the Heavenly gate called home.

 

July 28, 2022

Do you believe in spirit animals? It was early hours; I left the house then when back home because I forgot my cell phone. Upon getting back in the car, I noticed something watching me from a distance. A bird in a tree, about 5 feet in the air was watching me. The actual image is on the left, it was a hawk. I approached the hawk and talked to it and when I got within 1 foot away, it looked at me and flew away.

 

Could this Hawk — be dad?

What if I did not forget my phone that day – would I not see the hawk? I later thought it was not a spirit animal and it could be dad. Why — you ask? My father wrote a song 5 years ago called Rise, the lyrics are making my hair on my arm rise up. The album cover 5 years ago was a hawk/bird on it. This hawk was a sign and possibly dad.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I’ve filmed Tom Sizemore and other castmembers in August for the film Mob Humor. Not my project but I was hired as cinematographer. As far as my own projects, Article 92, a military drama/sci-fi, and also When the Sun Dies, an end of the world film, coming soon as well.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

Follow us at mcgeeproductions.us that was just re branded to Hawk Studios.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

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I wanted to incorporate some eye candy in the film as far as vehicles and also the music. Some background about both below which gave it a more mafia film. Even though this is a modern time movie I wanted to incorporate some older cars. The classic blue car seen in the film's intro is a 1949 Ford Custom Club Coupé. It was turned into a hardtop by taking out the B pillar. The interior is from a 1966 Ford Thunderbird with exterior color called Le Mans Blue from 1969 Pontiac color. The front grill is from a 1951 Ford pickup that is upside-down. The rear bumper is from a 1954 Mercury.

 

As far as the music. The opening music, Tony Martone Blues, was composed and written by Alberto Bellavia who is an Italian composer residing in Italy. My father also composed some more of the modern music, like in the strip club scene was a song my father did called Move.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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