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