Michael Corrente, writer and director of the new black and white independent film, "Federal Hill," sits over coffee at Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square Dressed in a sharp houndstooth jacket, with the dark hair closely cropped, he speaks confidently to The Crimson about his debut film.
The Harvard Crimson: Do you regret having made this film independently, on such a limited budget?
Michael Corrente: Oh no, no, no. If I hadn't done it independently, we wouldn't be here talking right now. I had every offer in the world to do it otherwise. But of course they wanted the guys to ride off on a white horse in the end. It had to be shot in color; no gay bashing scene; Nicky couldn't die. Pretty much sanitized bullshit is what is would have ended up. The worst thing that could have happened to this movie is three million dollars.
THC:What was your budget?
MC:We shot this for $80,000. We started shooting with, like, $40,000. Every Friday I had to raise fifteen grand to pay the crew. Every Friday, in between takes: Can I have the phone, please? "Hey Joey could I borrow, you know."
THC:Why black and white?
MC:I shot it in black and white because that's the way we thought growing up. Those stories are my life, how I grew up. There weren't a lot of choices. It was boom, or boom, this or that. Color would have made this movie like a lot of other movies. It separated it in a sense. It also made you focus on these guys and what they were going through, not on what color Ralph's shirt or Nicky's shoes were.
THC:This film is the first of three you've written set in Rhode Island?
MC:Actually, the next film I'm doing is a movie of the play, American Buffalo. I've been meeting with David Mamet, and we'll be turning that into a film.
The other two films that I've written are about growing up in Providence. One is a kick-boxing story about two brothers that I knew growing up. The other is sort of a political thriller that deals with the banking crisis that took place in Rhode Island. Any one of this could stir up a lot of shit in Rhode Island--and will. As if this didn't.
THC:How do you feel about putting people you know on screen?
MC:How do I feel about it? what most writers do is talk about stuff they know, and where they come from. I can't see me making a movie about WASPs from Minneapolis anytime soon--not that it wouldn't be a great movie, and that WASPs from Minneapolis are not wonderful people.
THCDo you see yourself as any one of the characters in "Federal Hill"?
MC:Yeah. I'm obviously more like Nicky than like Ralph. My brother is Ralph. That scene on the highway when they're smashing the windshield? That happened. That was me holding his legs.
THC:Who are your influences?