Connie’s Ric Rac’s Frankie Tartaglia makes his movie set in South Philly, “Not For Nothing”.
Anyone who has heard Frankie Tartaglia – a scion of the Italian Market, the co-owner and co-operator of the late, great Connie’s Ric Rac – knows his history in television and film. He started his act as a stand-up comedian after his 11th birthday and won an HBO Young Comedians contest. He sold one of his scripts for a comedy series to MTV while still in high school. In the late 90s, he and his brother Joseph shot and starred in their own film, Punctuality. He’s had his hand in the editing process of director Morgan Sperlock’s Super Size Me and started his own production company, DroneHead with partner Pete Pelullo.
Now comes Not for Nothing, a flick directed and written by Tartaglia and Tim Dowlin, debuting at the 31st iteration of the Philadelphia Film Festival starting October 21, a movie dedicated to crime, family, drugs, vengeance, pride and respect, all told within the glorious light and dark confines of South Philadelphia.
“First off, we never intended to actually make this film ourselves,” Tartaglia told dosage MAGAZINE. “We only intended on writing a script together. Once we realized that we couldn’t sell our script without a literary agent, we realized we had to figure out a way to make it, or it would just wind up on a shelf in a basement and eventually turn into dust. But to answer your question – we made it up. The main characters are all based on real people I have encountered in my many years living as a South Philly guido. Tim wanted us to write a modern day Italian American Mafia movie that took place in South Philadelphia. I was interested in telling a story that involved these Italian American characters but without them being Mafia assholes. I also didn’t want greed to be the motivation to set the characters into action. Eventually, after many discussions, we came upon the idea of the girl who O’D’s on fentanyl and a gang of neighborhood guys who try to solve her suspicious death. Once we had that, we built the rest of the story around that. Essentially, we both love Scorsese films and decided to make one. Not For Nothing is basically a reboot of Mean Streets crossed with the Magnificent 7.
A.D. Amorosi: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?
Frankie Tartaglia: Besides it being our first film, the budget being too low for what we were trying to accomplish, the most challenging thing had to be making the film during the peak of COVID. The schedule kept changing because we weren’t allowed to use extras unless they were tested for Covid the day before. It was a nightmare at times.
A.D. Amorosi: How did you and Tim collaborate? What was the creative process?
Frankie Tartaglia: Tim and I have a great system for writing together. We essentially pitch each other ideas every day and the other one of us simply green lights the ideas we agree with. If one of us changed the other ones writing, let’s say dialogue, we were welcome to change it again on the next pass, but, it had to be something new. We couldn’t change anything back to what we had written previously. We either had to write something brand new that we both liked better than anything else that was previously there, or we would just leave it be. Post production was pretty much the same process. Shooting was a little different but we figured out a great system as we went along. Because we both knew the story inside and out we were able to literally split up when needed. Tim would have to direct certain scenes alone while I had to walk off the set to put out fires having to do with the next day of shooting. Sometimes I would take over directing completely if I had a very special shot and vision in mind for the sequence. At those moments I would work closer with camera and Tim would focus on directing actors. It was bumpy at first but by the end we were a movie making machine. we were able to tackle twice as much every day than most other bigger budget productions mostly because we had to.
A.D. Amorosi: What are you most proud of in regard to Not for Nothing?
Frankie Tartaglia: Mostly that we finished it. I know it’s not an easy thing to complete a feature. But also, that I got to do it with my good friends. Mark Webber, I know since high school, we both majored in acting at CAPA. And Pete Pelullo, our executive producer and friend since first grade. Pete and I met at Friends Select School. Tim is a part time teacher there now. But I’m most proud of Peter. He single-handedly raised all the money to get this film made. We would still be sitting on the script without him. I am proud to be his friend and partner. I’m stoked to be Frank.