By Anthony J. Machcinski | Observer Correspondent
Five years ago, Kearny resident Frank Lisi battled cancer, a challenge no one everwishes to endure. This summer, after becoming cancer-free a couple years ago, Lisi will unveil his second film, “The Red Corvette.”
“There is a little bit of everything in this movie,” said Lisi, who not only is the producer for the film, but acts in it as well.
Acting is nothing new for Lisi. He attended the Penny Templeton Studio in the hopes of an acting career.
“I never wanted to be a director,” Lisi said. “I thought it was too much of a headache.”
However, at the studio, Lisi not only learned the nuances of acting, but also many things on the other side of the camera. Eventually, he became intrigued by the actors themselves.
“I learned how to love to work with the fellow actor and to get the best out of them. I like working with the actor directly,” explained Lisi. “The lighting and cameras are important, but I trust my crew. Pulling the best performances out of each actor, I get a thrill out of that.”
Lisi’s first film, “A Sicilian Tale,” won the prize for the Best Short Film Crime Drama at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festi-Val. Despite a change in genre, Lisi hopes that the success will continue.
“You have to change the genre,” said Lisi, who went from crime drama to m
of asuspense thriller with “The Red Corvette.” “I want to do a little bit of everything. I didn’t want a film that was beginning to end a Mafia film. I wanted to tell the story of two opposites attracting.”
However, Lisi knows that a flourishing movie is not a one-man production, rather, it’s a well-oiled V8 that will make “The Red Corvette” purr to success.
“Everyone has that passion for filmmaking,” said Lisi of his co-workers. “We could be on the set for 12 hours, and they would say, ‘Who cares? We’re making the movie’.”
With actors and crew who truly love the passion and not the money, Lisi was able to use his creative ability to achieve his goal of switching genres. Inspired by a real-life story, “The Red Corvette” was driven by Lisi’s motivation to find a movie that would attract a younger demographic.
“I have teenagers of my own,” said Lisi, “Violence sells. Sex sells. That’s what young people want to see, but the moral of the story still is kind of sad.”
The story is fueled by its two lead actors, Valerie Bauer, playing ‘A’ student Cindy Reese, and Katherine Mesa, playing mob princess Bella Fagone.
“I had a hard time finding someone for the Cindy Reese character,” recapped Lisi, “but from the moment I saw (Valerie), I knew she was the right woman for the role.”
Along with the two relatively unknown leads, the movie also features Vinny Vella, from “Casino” and “The Sopranos” fame, as well as ex-Kearny High School teacher Artie Pasquale, who also had a role on “The Sopranos.”
Once editing is finished in the summer, Lisi will send the movie to multiple film festivals, hoping for both “The Red Corvette” and “A Sicilian Tale” to be distributed. Unmotivated by the greed, Lisi still hopes to make a return on his films.
“It wouldn’t be bad to make a dime here and there to pay people what they should be paid for this film,” Lisi explained.
As for his own career, Lisi hopes to get in front of the screen more.
“I spent the last four years making two films,” Lisi said. “I’d like to land some nice character roles.”
Lisi has been trying to get cast in the next season of HBO’s hit show “Boardwalk Empire,” but does not want people to typecast him as the Italian gangster.
“In the future, I’d like to get more acting jobs, roles, and branch out,” Lisi said. “I’ve been stereotyped as a gangster, but I can play other things.”
Lisi realizes that show business is not the easiest to break into, but that has not stopped his determination.
“Whatever it takes, I’m going to do more auditioning and try to go into more films,” Lisi said.
“The Red Corvette” is currently in the editing phase of production and will be entered into summer film festivals with the hopes of bringing in more awards.