Q: How long did it take you to make the film?
A: We shot it in just 15 days.
Q: Film critic Leigh Wiemers of the San Jose Mercury News calls the film "a quirky tale that is off-beat, with some laugh-out-loud parts". What's funny about a thriller?
A: Wannabe musicians Larry and Warren Funk (actors Robert Musgrave of "Bottle Rocket" and Alan Gelfant of "Next Stop Wonderland") are characters in the film who, like everyone else in L.A. are trying to do something other than their day job. The comedy comes right out of their situation.
Q: You're laughing. Does that mean the "day job" situation is familiar to you?
A: I work at Dodgers Stadium selling T-shirts by day and spend my nights writing or working on film scripts.
Q: What else are you writing about?
A: I'm writing an American love story about Doogie Williams, one of Alcatraz's last inmates.
Q: Why is that an American love story?
A: Williams was a gypsy who migrated to Marin, where he robbed a bank in Point Reyes Station that led to a three-day man hunt. That happened only nine days after he married a woman he had fallen in love with, and she knew nothing about his life as a bank robber. The story I'm writing, based upon countless interviews with Williams, is about the way in which Williams, a veteran inmate, helps redirect a young man who is in trouble with the law.
Q: Is this one of the many film scripts Legendary Productions is considering?
A: Yes. Legendary Productions creates films that offer lessons. This story shows people that much can be learned from the life experiences of older people. That's the beauty of independent film. You maintain studio control.
Q: Is that what happened to you and your childhood dream to be involved with film?
A: I was the youngest child in a large Italian family and always had the experiences of others to learn from. I always wanted to have my own experiences of life, too. I remember watching TV with my family and pointing to the television set, telling them, when I was 5 that I wanted to be on TV.
Q: Is that when you decided to go into acting?
A: No. That didn't happen until after I graduated from highschool in 1981. Even though I knew in my heart I wanted to act, I was too unsure of myself. It wasn't until my big brother Tony took me to a class at the Jean Shelton Theater in San Francisco that I started to take myself seriously.
My family is in the jewelry business and I knew I was going to have to go to L.A. to find out if I could make it in film.
Q: Your highschool pal Bob Alioto tells me he has always seen you as a very theatrical guy. He called you "the king of one-liners.". According to him, while you guys cruised downtown San Rafael on Friday nights, you were the one always acting and ad-libbing. In fact, Bob said that when he sees you perform on-screen you are "just being you." You're a natural, he said. And yet you've decided to take a step away from performing and become a producer. Why?
A: Performing doesn't suit my personality as well as writing and producing do. When I act I only get to play one part. With producing, I get to play all of the parts. I also get to work with talented people like director-screenwriter Bernardo Gigliotto and cinematographer Keith Holland. When we produce our own films, we are in control of what happens to the story, what happens in the studio.
Q: You and co-producers James J. Smythe and Paula Keane state that your goal is "to create movies that are good, and clean, without violence, sex and bad language found in many mainstream movies." Smythe said Legendary Productions backs "quality movies that people can take their families to." Do you have anything to add to that?
A: I want our movies to stand the test of time that is required of great art. It's more than just entertainment. If people are still viewing films like "Ordinary Madness" years from now, then we know we've made great art.
Interviewed by: Karen Pierce Gonzalez
Originally printed in the Marin Independent Journal, February 21, 2000