‘LL: Tell us a bit about your horror-comedy film Witness Infection.
CA: We started shooting December 2018. I started writing late 2016 with Jill-Michele Melean, who I met years ago at the Latino Laugh Festival. We came full circle this year in February to the Pop Comedy Festival, which is produced by the same team as the Latino Laugh Festival, and we premiered the film there. It did well and won awards. It’s a horror-comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead. The logline is a mob boss’s son is trying desperately to get out of an arranged marriage and, luckily, his friends and the zombie apocalypse are there to bail him out.
You have two families on Witness Infection. I play Mr. Serelli. My son Carlo is played by Rob Belushi. He’s gotta marry Patricia Niola because we blew up with her family. We gotta patch things together because she’s actually my oldest son Dominic’s girlfriend, but he’s shooting blanks, and Mr. Niola wants his grandson. So, boom!
This wedding’s gotta happen. Introduce poison sausage, and, uh-oh. Now, the whole world is turned upside down. People are getting sick, turning into zombies. I’ve always been fascinated with both genres – The Sopranos, Good Fellas – and I’ve always loved a great zombie flick. I think Jill and I were really inspired by Shaun of the Dead and wanted to make up a story out of it, rather than just a gag film. We have a good story, a good beginning, middle and end for three of our characters who go on this journey to try to save families and keep from getting killed. It’s a lot of fun, good gore. It was a 15-day shoot, low budget comedy. A lot of people are digging it. I hope soon that we’ll be able to announce it on a streaming format.
‘LL: Indie films tend to come with challenges since most are self-produced by the creators themselves as opposed to big production companies. Were there any challenges when producing the film that you guys encountered?
CA: There’s been challenges. You try to do an Indiegogo to raise additional funds for editing and post-production, and it’s hard unless you do it right. There are so many projects that want your money or need money to finish but, luckily, I was able to have enough to where I could self-finance a great deal of it. And so, we weren’t limited in terms of money per se, but there were other challenges.
For example, we wanted a nighttime scene with hunters and forests, and my director was keen enough to tell me, “Well, you can’t afford a cherry picker to light up the whole forest. That’s going to be about a million bucks a month.” Oh, okay, yeah let’s shoot that during the day. There are limitations. If at one location we got rained out or we lost an actor that we had to replace with another actor. Nobody got sick or injured, which was nice.
We had some challenging locations for sure. But, for the most part, everybody pulled away with positive rating on the film. We’ve got a good little project that they can go check out the trailer and go, “Man, this looks like a couple million-dollar budget.” We did a great job, and it was a blast and it’s a labor of love. I just want people to see it. It’s just a great cast, and the feedback I’m getting is that every character has a solid part. There’s no sort of wasted character.
‘LL: Where can our readers go to find out when it will stream?
CA: Our people who donate on the Indiegogo and our readers and fans, you can go to WitnessInfection.com, and check out our reviews, check out the poster and the trailer. I think we have a few behind the scenes photos, too.
‘LL: What else do you have coming down the pike?
CA: We have Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years on Nickelodeon. I play a character named Nobby and a couple of other characters. We also have Maya and the Three, which is a Jorge Gutierrez-directed and -created project coming out Fall 2021 on Netflix. Also, there’s Trese, which is a Filipino graphic novel. I play Anton, the father of the lead character, and a couple of other characters. That’s coming out. I’m going to be doing some work coming up on Victor and Valentino on Cartoon Network. Also, doing voiceover for American Dad and Family Guy, some things on Duncanville and, hopefully, more. I’ve been lucky having a home studio definitely helps.
‘LL: What’s some advice you have for aspiring indie filmmakers, actors and/or voiceover actors that are out there trying to get their foot in the door?
CA: Regardless of any project, you must have perseverance to keep going. Have a strategy. Be prepared to have setbacks but keep going. For voiceovers, study characters, people, watch plays, watch old movies. Get your own YouTube channel. Make content. Get on TikTok. Create your content. Get on Instagram. Create your content. Take a class. Get a reel. You can take the reins of the horse yourself. You can make your own content with your own channels and show people what you can do. If you’re going to make your own film, you budget and get the best people that you can. If you don’t think that you can direct your own film like me – I knew I couldn’t direct it myself – hire a great director. It’s about learning how to assemble talent and being patient. I just encourage everyone, especially now, to just create. Stick with your families and friends and create great stuff.