Port Richmond native’s film ‘Swooped’ to screen at the Troc

Port Rich­mond nat­ive Shaun Cos­tello, and his part­ner, Joe Gar­iffo, will hold a loc­al premiere of their award-win­ning film, Swooped, this Sunday at the Tro­ca­dero Theat­er.

Matt God­frey / For the Star (From left) Gar­iffo and Cos­tello in front of an ad­vert­ise­ment for their movie.

There’s one tip for writ­ing that every writer and screen­writer has heard at one point or an­oth­er: “Write what you know.”

It means, for ex­ample, that if you are really in­to sci­ence, and want to write a movie, then you should write a movie about sci­ence.

Shaun Cos­tello and Joe Gar­iffo — two act­ors who nev­er ima­gined them­selves as writers — de­cided to fol­low that oft-re­peated ad­vice.

That ex­plains the birth of Swooped: Based On a Real Life Oc­cur­rence. It’s a film that fo­cuses on tales of re­la­tion­ships they each had at some point in the past.

Swooped screens this Sunday, March 18, along with three short films at the Tro­ca­dero Theatre at 10th and Arch streets.

The film’s cre­at­ors said the idea stemmed from their frus­tra­tion of want­ing to make movies but ex­per­i­en­cing a short­age of op­por­tun­it­ies to do so.

“I nev­er had the con­fid­ence to be like, ‘I’m go­ing to sit down and write something that people are go­ing to care about it,’” said Gar­iffo. “We were just tired of not do­ing any­thing, so we sat down and star­ted writ­ing.”

The gen­es­is of the story was simple, they said.

“We were on a road trip from Or­lando to Philly when some of the things in the movie ac­tu­ally happened,” ex­plained Cos­tello, a Port Rich­mond nat­ive and Fath­er Judge High School gradu­ate. “So we typed up an el­ev­en-page short film in the car in about an hour and a half.”

A few weeks after that road trip, Cos­tello had the idea to turn it in­to a longer fea­ture film.

Dur­ing the 2008 World Series, the duo sat down and wrote the first draft of the script. They were sur­prised to have done so in re­cord time.

“We really wanted to see the Phil­lies win, so we just locked the doors and wrote un­til it was done,” Cos­tello ex­plained with a laugh.

They still viewed the pro­ject as something small, as if the film would be something they could work on them­selves.

“It was just go­ing to be us with a cam­era, but Charlie (An­der­son) liked the script,” Cos­tello said.

The as­pir­ing film­makers met An­der­son, a dir­ect­or of pho­to­graphy based in Bal­timore, through an on­line search. After see­ing his work, though, they wor­ried they wouldn’t be able to af­ford his ser­vices.

“Turned out he liked it so much that he said if we could cov­er his rent for the month he would shoot it,” Cos­tello ex­plained.

“That’s when it be­came a real movie … where we had to rent an equip­ment trail­er and drive to Flor­ida,” ad­ded Gar­iffo.

“We just got really lucky with a lot of things fall­ing in­to place after that,” Cos­tello said.

They en­dured the nor­mal tri­als and tribu­la­tions of mak­ing an in­de­pend­ent film — from beg­ging people to work for free to call­ing in every single fa­vor they could think of — but in the end cre­ated a film they were proud of.

Their next struggle was to have the movie ac­cep­ted for film fest­ivals. “We got a lot of re­sponses that people liked it, but no one was ac­cept­ing it,” ex­plained Cos­tello.

After a few re­jec­tions, and work­ing on a few oth­er fea­tures here in Philly in the mean­time, they real­ized how they could change Swooped for the bet­ter.

“We trimmed it down, and the first time we sent the new ver­sion out, that’s when we star­ted get­ting in­to fest­ivals,” said Cos­tello.

Bet­ter yet, they star­ted win­ning awards for their work.

They took home an award for “Best Comed­ic Fea­ture” at the Ac­tion On Film Fest­iv­al in Pas­adena, Cal­if., last year, as well as “Best Fea­ture” at the Hou­s­ton Com­edy Film Fest.

“It’s great be­cause this is people that aren’t our par­ents and friends telling us they like it,” said Cos­tello.

“Yeah, most of our friends and fam­ily ac­tu­ally hate it any­way,” Gar­iffo joked.

With a new idea in mind for their next film — they’re think­ing it will be a hockey film called The In­de­pend­ents — the film­makers de­cided it was time to show their ori­gin­al film to a loc­al audi­ence.

“A lot of people have asked to see it (Swooped), and we have nev­er had a screen­ing in Philly,” Cos­tello said. “It’s not a fund-raiser, but pro­ceeds will go to­ward our next movie.” ••

“Swooped” will be shown on Sunday, March 18, at the Tro­ca­dero Theatre, 10th and Arch streets. Doors open at 5 p.m. For $11 ad­mis­sion, at­tendees will see the film and also en­joy a drink spe­cial. To pur­chase tick­ets, go to: ht­tp://www.tick­et­fly.com/pur­chase/event/97341


You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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