“Turkey’s Done” is an award-winning short film that was shot in South Philadelphia back in July of 2016. It’s the collaboration of four women who wrote, produced, directed and starred in the film: Jennifer Tini, Monique Impagliazzo, Krystal Tini (also key hair & makeup artist and wardrobe stylist), and of course, Cheri Oteri, who were all born and raised in the Philadelphia area!
The crew consisted of about 30 people (all local hires) who worked incredibly hard to capture our vision. The film would not be what it is today without Charles Bouril-Director of Photography, John White-1st AC, Kevin Howley-1st AD, Roseanne Mangoni-2nd AD, Johnny Baum Baum-Gaffer, Brigid Squilla-Prop Master, Dale Pavinski-Editor, Sam Nuttle and Sean Hamilton-Sound, Josh Clarke-Locations Manager, Richard Chiarantona-Production Manager, Julianna Pinto, Production Coordinator, Danielle Teta-Craft Service, Jennifer Condo-Set Photographer and Jennifer "Bok" Barkowitz-Publicity. A very special thank you to Kathleen Kearney and Nicole Agostino for being there during every step of the Production process.
1) How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it going?
Monique Impagliazzo, Jennifer Tini snd Krystal Tini had moved to Los Angeles after working on a feature film being shot in and around Philadelphia and the Jersey shore. Once together in our tiny apartment we all collaborated on a script to be brought to life based on real life “characters” from our very own neighborhood! From the start, we KNEW we wanted Cheri Oteri for the lead not only because she is a Philly native, but also because she is our favorite comedic actress that we fell in love with in every film! We knew we wanted to create something that embodied the typical and very colorful Italian family. How close we are- too close most times- our loud, yet welcoming and warm ways, and also to tell the story of true tradition, PHILLY tradition.
2) What were some challenges that you have encountered?
Some challenges were in post-production and finding a really good editor. With only two days of shooting we weren’t able to make many corrections or have the luxury of getting many takes. Our friend Dale Pavinski carefully put it all together and even offered to do some extra shooting of Cheri (all of her scenes at the makeup table). It came out better than we ever expected!
3) The burning question: how did you arrange the budget?
The budget! Well, with past experience and having the script broken down, we knew we needed as close to a full crew as possible. The biggest help though, was shooting in Philly! We were able to pay our crew, provide great craft services (ALWAYS feed your crew well), and obtain the best equipment because SO many people and businesses were willing to donate their time, food for our whole team, and even their homes as shooting locations! It’s something we’ll never forget and it’s why we want to bring the feature script back to shoot in Philly!
4) What are the plans for distribution?
Right now Turkey’s Done is on Amazon Prime Video and we are in conversation with Shorts TV, a new platform just for short films! We feel so blessed with these outlets, as years past there was nowhere for them to be seen.
5) Care to share all the amazing accomplishments, awards and selections?
We were quite shocked at how well received this film has been across North America! We were an official selection of Vancouver’s Just For Laughs Film Festival and to our surprise, came home winning 3rd place for Best Comedy out of hundreds of films! We now realized this film resonated with people everywhere- not just on the East Coast! This was followed by winning Best Comedy at The Philadelphia’s Women’s Film Festival and The Golden Door Film Festival, Best First Time Directors at The Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, and Cheri won Best Actress at The Burbank International Film Festival!
6) Which film festivals do you suggest submitting to?
Film Freeway is a great resource for researching film festivals. We would suggest reading all the rules especially with the bigger film festivals like Sundance, Toronto and Cannes. Then you can focus more on ones that fit your film, either by genre, shooting location, etc. We highly suggest submitting to festivals in your hometown and make sure to include that in your cover letter. Speaking of cover letters, they are very important, make sure to personalize each one.
7) Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
When you have a script based in South Philly, created by 3 South Philly women, and your executive producer is Cheri Oteri, also a Philly native, there really wasn’t another option in our opinion!
8) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
Shooting in South Philly is always a treat, it’s a way of letting the rest of the world get a glimpse of our world! However, if we had to shoot outdoors we’d love to capture Valley Forge Park or some hidden roads along the river, even Fairmount Park would be beautiful!
9) How did you all get started in the film industry?
To make a long story short, Monique worked for the Mary Anne Claro Talent Agency, which represented actors from Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York. Jennifer was hired as an assistant to producer Diane Kirman after she was recommended by Mary Anne Claro, a close friend whom she met through her sister, Krystal, who was one of those talents Mary Anne represented. Talk about a small world... This was our first taste of the film industry!
10) What do you love the most about your job?
We love the freedom of filmmaking- choosing a story to tell, assembling the perfect cast, bringing people together, never knowing how it’s all going to work out but then it somehow does- it’s all about the journey!
11) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
Dino's character drove a Classic Cadillac in which we rented for the weekend. During the wrap celebration, the crew couldn't get the car started and tried to give it a hot shot. When they did there was a loud BOOM and the car caught on fire! Shortly after, the police and fire department showed up. We can honestly say we went out with a bang!
12) What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
In all honesty, we don’t feel there are challenges being female. We all believe in ourselves. We all believe in the law of attraction and that our thoughts become things. There are too many obstacles to overcome when making a film, that being a female doesn’t really factor into our consciousness when we are in work mode. We work hard, we know what we want, we figure out how to get it.
13) What is your advice for other women in film?
The advice we would give women film makers is go out there and create your own projects and tell your own stories. No time like the present.
14) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
We would like to bring our feature script, from which Turkey’s Done was based, to shoot in Philadelphia again. The way the community came together to help us is something we’ll never forget, and we would like to return the favor by spending our budget there!
15) PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
No matter where you are in the world, everyone likes a piece of Hollywood in their town! Shooting films not only brings work, but it boosts local economies, communities come together with excitement, and it helps people who want to get into the film business gain a bit of experience they won’t otherwise get unless moving to LA, NYC or Atlanta. Philly has some of the most beautiful locations and rich history that the city shouldn’t think twice about offering incentives! There’s no downside!
16) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
Some helpful tips include getting involved anyway you can! Become an intern or a production assistant - get that coffee -it's where you gain experience and learn. Make yourself useful on set and always be on time. Producers love hiring people they can rely on and they will then take you with them on other projects. And be POSITIVE!
17) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
The most valuable lesson we all learned is always do what’s best for the project, never do what’s best for yourself. This is one of the first things we were told in film class, however, it’s not always easy to follow when there are three or four people at the helm of a project and each has their own opinion and vision. Just always remember it’s about the project and never about the individual.
18) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
Right now our biggest aspiration is getting our feature film “in the can” -with a full budget to shoot everything we want, how we want and where we want, and then having a platform for it to reach the masses! Ideally a theatrical release would be awesome but we are also open to a Netflix release or another similar platform.
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Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org