Most people would say that a filmmaker with no budget is out of luck. Joe Giacobello, however, would prove them wrong.
Giacobello, a Moon-based actor and director, was recently awarded third place at the Indie Gathering International Film Festival in Westlake, Ohio, for his dark comedy, "Ultimate Reality."
With nothing but a few dollars out of his own pocket, Giacobello created an award-winning feature-length film, starring himself and several other volunteer actors from the Pittsburgh area.
This is the second film his production company, Bello Productions, has made. The first movie, "Doing Therapy," also won awards at several film festivals around the country, including Best Romantic Comedy at the Indie Gathering in 2006.
“Ultimate Reality” is based on an idea Giacobello had for a reality show, in which contestants would compete to see who could live in solitary confinement the longest. The winner would take home $10 million.
“Most reality television programs portray man competing against man or man competing against nature,” Giacobello said. “But you never see man competing against himself — against his own will.”
Giacobello hopes the movie sends a message about the drudgery and monotony of everyday life.
“People work too much and spend way too much time sitting in their cubicles watching their lives pass them by,” he said. “The contestants living in isolation all for the sake of money is just a comparison of many people’s daily lives.”
The film also contains a romantic subplot, featuring Giacobello’s character, which he feels adds another element of suspense to the story.
Although this wasn’t his first filmmaking experience, Giacobello admitted that creating a feature-length film with little or no money is never easy.
“There was only one other cameraman on set and one day when we needed him, he didn’t show up", Giacobello said. “I had to set up the camera and then act in my scene, so I was essentially the camera crew and an actor at the same time, for the same scene.”
Location is also crucial to movie-making and Giacobello had a hard time finding places to shoot over the course of a year that it took to film “Ultimate Reality.”
“No one wants the responsibility or the trouble of hosting a movie crew on their property,” he said. “So it takes awhile to find the right spot.”
It’s apparent that Giacobello has both experience and talent on his side, based on his film’s accomplishments. He never went to film school, and instead, taught himself how to produce and direct. His acting career began in Erie when he participated in community theater.
Giacobello plans to continue making films in the Pittsburgh area, unless Hollywood comes a-knocking.
“I make movies for fun, but obviously, if Hollywood showed up at my door, I’d be interested,” he said.