Posted by: Drew | April 2, 2008

30 Minutes with Michael Scardillo – Director “Leeds Point” – April 5th Asbury Park

Today we will spend 30 Minutes with Michael “Santo” Scardillo Director and Co-Writer of Leeds Point, the feature length movie about the Jersey Devil. A really fun guy to speak with, he opens up about how an industry change redirected him from being another Quincy Jones to possibly the next George Lucas and the process of making a feature film.

Leeds Point will premier at the Garden State Film Festival on April 5th 2008 in Asbury Park, NJ.

DK: So what part of New Jersey are you from?

MS: “Whiting, born and raised, right in the Pinelands, right in the sticks”

DK: Were your parents from Whiting, NJ?

MS: Mom (Jean) was from Elizabeth and Dad (Anthony) was from East Orange. They moved down to Toms River and then to Whiting when they got married, and thats were I was born”

DK: When did you graduate High School?
MS: “2002, I’m only 23”

DK: When did you first get into motion pictures?

MS: “About 4 years ago, Actually I started in the music industry, I was in (Ocean) County College, I was interning in at different recording labels, playing the drums, working in recording studios.” “My actual degree is in Audio Recording”

Due to uncertainty in the music business thanks to Napster and the ilk, the music industry started cutting jobs and no one knew what was going to be happening. Scardillo’s experience in music led to sound design then visual design. It was at that point Scardillo and some friends decided to “Go make movies.”

DK: So in all what schools did you attend?

MS:”I was in Ocean County College for 2 years , took a year off and then went out to Los Angeles and studies at USC” and “William Patterson University

Scardillo explained during his time in LA he worked on many student projects while waiting for his 4 month lease to expire on his apartment. Scardillo jokingly lamented not being able to work on any professional projects due to the fact of “everything was unionized out there”

DK: What genre do you like to produce?

MS: “We picked horror because growing up in Whiting it was Jersey Devil everywhere. This was the one story that was always in my head..going up through Boy Scouts, every campfire story was a Jersey Devil story.”

DK: Was the story of Leeds Point a long time in the making?

MS: “I had the story in my head a long,long time ago… This was the first on I had to get out of my head.”

DK: This is your first “big” project?

MS: “Yes, I had done two twenty five minute shorts, but the rest were school projects”

Scardillo won “Best Editing” on his film “Detour” at William Patterson University

DK: Who is your influence in film making?

MS: “Peter Jackson” recalling The Two Towers four DVD set that had hours of Jackson talking about the craft and process. “Star Wars was a big inspiration, George Lucas, learning about all his difficulties trying to stay independent”

You could sense the respect Scardillo has for Lucas and how he was able to assemble his own “Empire”. Lucas, during the making of the first three Star Wars movies was being sued in numerous lawsuits from the studios, forming Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound and the list continues. Based in Marin County, California, Lucasfilm Ltd. is one of the most successful independent production companies in the world.

DK: Writers Strike? any Opinion?

MS: “The writers were due, it’s a good thing because everybody is looking towards the future, …low budget film making and internet (content) is the way it’s going toward”

DK: As an filmmaker what do you see the internet doing for distribution.

MS: “The traditional models are still the way, you need to find an agent …If you move to LA you’re not just fighting the people in Los Angles county for jobs, when you post stuff on YouTube the competition is bigger, it’s world wide”

Scardillo also feels that marketing is the key, “There still has to be a united way to drive people to the page”, feeling that cyberspace is a bit of a jumble with people not being easily directed to films and projects posted.

DK: Hows did the production of Leeds Point come to be?

MS: “The big story is Craigslist! I met Jeff Heimbuch at William Patterson (University). Jeff is from Brick, …so we gravitated to each other as the Ocean County guys. I had the story in my head but I really needed a partner. I brought Jeff aboard and we created a really good outline, …we were talking about Chase (the lead character in Leeds Point) , …The main story is about Chase and thats who we are following. Jeff brought up Kevin Interdonato as he has worked with him before, …thats when Kevin came on board , we gave him an outline and took him to the Rainbow Diner (Brick, NJ Rt.88 /Rt.70)

“Every time we had conversations to long for a telephone call we has everybody meet at the Rainbow Diner, it was like our production office.”

Amazingly they assembled their cast, composer via Craigslist! Ok even more incredible, Scardillo’s secret weapon was Ray the Comic Book Guy and Associate Producer “Whenever we needed a location or something we didn’t know (how to obtain), …Ray knows like every comic book guy in Ocean County, …he has all the hookups.” Ray supplied the special effects artist, locations galore. He knows the whole town , including a contact in the Toms River Mayors office. As It turns out Toms River is a big supporter of the arts and has been very accommodating to productions in the area.

DK: Reactions form people shooting a movie about the Jersey Devil?

MS: ” Everybody we spoke to was ecstatic about it” “Everybody was really into it”

The production shoot was shot in Jackson, Atlantic Highlands, Whiting, Brick, and South Toms River from Exits 120 to 81 on the GSP.

DK: Start to Finish, how long did it take?

MS: “We started the outline in April of last year (2007),casted in the end of July, shot in August, editing in October and finished it up with composer in February”

DK: Did you have a good experience with the cast, given there were from Craigslist?

MS: “All the actors there were doing it for the love of the material. They were fantastic!

DK: Have you seen the Jersey Devil? Whats do you think? Does it exist?

MS: “I’ve Thought I’ve seen him many times” although he freely admits to when in Boy Scout’s going on Devil hunts and the Scout Masters were the once scaring the hell out of them. “You come back from LBI at two am in the morning coming down CR. 539 and you think you seen some really big birds, or something flying around.” Scardillo added.

DK: Any advice for the first time film maker?
MS: “If you wanna do it, Do it” He strongly feels that between the low cost of cameras, trial editing software, Craigslist to find a cast and YouTube to host the movie there are no excuses.

DK: Which beach do you hang out on?

MS: “For my money, the prettiest girls are on beach two on Island Heights”

Attention ladies, a soon to be famous filmmaker is single and you know where to find him this summer.

DK: Best shore memory?
MS: “My brother just turned twenty one and we took him to Seaside Heights for St. Patty’s Day”

DK: Another devil movie in the works?

MS: “Chase’s story isn’t finished in one movie”

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