Damon and I have been talking about writing, directing, story, and our own projects for the better part of a decade. We both had feature films we were trying to make, but we seemed to be hitting similar roadblocks. I was originally asked to turn a story idea I was developing into a screenplay in a very short amount of time for a specific director. I knew that it would be a stretch to take this job on myself, and Damon and I had talked about combining our efforts to get a first feature under out belts. We are inspired by many of the same movies, had developed a common language, were comfortable collaborating, and had already spent time talking about the story of Detonator, so it just made sense to write it together.
As we proceeded, and the director moved on to another project, it became clear very quickly that we should combine our resources, efforts, and expertise, and direct the film as a team. Neither one of us had set out with the ambition to co-direct a film, but in the case of Detonator, we had each invested so much of our selves and our experiences into the story that it just made sense. We began raising capital with some success, but in a very grassroots way. It wasn’t until my close friend from growing up in Philadelphia, David Jacovini, took the reigns as Executive Producer that things really took flight and became real. He had the perfect combination of business knowledge and the experience of choosing to leave the world of high finance to start his own venture back in Philadelphia. It just fit. After we had a real budget, it was a whirlwind of agony and joy that brought us to where we are today, our “World Premiere” at Cinequest, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
2Q: Cinequest is proud to host the World Premiere of Detonator. Explain to the audience how you feel about bringing this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?
My hope is that audiences find some connection to the story, something in the character of Sully (beautifully rendered on screen by Lawrence Michael Levine) to which they can relate. Damon and I tapped our own experiences of trying to make art and have a creative voice as a “grown-up” with real responsibilities. I think some form of this notion is relevant to most human beings.
We also chose to set Detonator in a very specific world that we found compelling, the underground punk scene in Philadelphia. I’d like for audiences to lose themselves for a moment in the world we created, and go on a journey with our protagonist to a place where they might not normally have had an opportunity to go in their own lives, and hopefully be moved by it.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Detonator?
The best experience of making Detonator was working with good friends, my partner, Damon Maulucci, our lead, Lawrence Levine, our Executive Producer, David Jacovini, to name a few. We had a great cast and crew, so it was a pleasure to get to know everyone and spend time around passionate and talented people.
The worst or most difficult experience was being away from my one-year-old (at the time) son, Lorenzo, for over two weeks. It was excruciating. That was, by far the longest time we were ever apart. Cinequest is the second longest, and now I have a 6-month-old daughter named Stella, so being apart will be doubly difficult.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
I think people should educate themselves about what’s screening, and then just see what truly intrigues them. They should trust their instinct. If Detonator does that for you, then you should absolutely check it out. It’s the kind of film I would like to see. My hope is that wonderful resources like your website will give audiences a good sense of some of the great films waiting to be seen at Cinequest 23.
5Q: The current market for independent films is fractured, to put it lightly, and existing distribution models grow more ineffective with each passing moment. What are your hopes or plans for distribution?
We hope for the best, but are realistic and very pragmatic about our plans for Detonator. We made a small-scale film, so we might just have the potential to recoup our costs, and then continue to make reasonably sized films. I think this is a sensible and sustainable approach to the business of making films outside of the system. But more than anything, we just hope a lot of people who are receptive to non-Hollywood movies will have an opportunity to see Detonator one way or another.
Though budgets and bottom lines are a reality, I think it’s a mistake to get too wrapped up in the short-term dollars and cents of it all. So, I am less concerned about shifting distribution models, and more interested in maintaining a healthy relationship with the creative process and pushing myself artistically. I think if you can focus on the bigger picture and the work you are doing, you will be okay.