Getting Out in BLACK & WHITE

Michael Corrente Speaks About His Debut Film "Federal Hill"

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?