We are back with one of our top Spidcast episodes to date this month (listen in below and subscribe to “Spidcast” on iTunes) with a focus on Keanu Reeves, web series, filmmaking, impersonations, directing, following your passions, and other interesting sound bites! October’s Spidcast features incredible guests; Chris Kenneally and Maurizio/Melanie Minichino. They are our amazingly talented, passionate, and insightful guests for our 19th episode of Spidcast on October 11th, 2012.
Listen to Spidcast #19 by clicking the play button below
Chris Kenneally lives in Brooklyn. He wrote, directed, and produced the documentary Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating. Chris has been post-production supervisor for many feature films including: The Squid and the Whale, You Can Count On Me, 13, Cadillac Records, among many others in his illustrious career.
Melanie Minichino is a first generation Italian, born in New York. She started acting/comedy at eight years old, by making fun of her Italian father and all his buddies. She worked on shows in New York such as “The Sopranos,” “Law and Order,” was host for the “Speed Channel,” and various commercials while performing in plays and improv. She fell into the voice over world and started doing promos, commercials, and eventually cartoons. In 2009 she landed a job being the voice of Disney Junior, which brought her to Los Angeles.
Melanie is currently writing, producing, and starring in The Maurizio Show, a semi-scripted comedy web series in which she portrays her own Italian born father. Some of the artists who inspire the actress are: Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen, Tina Fey, and Lucille Ball. Being inspired by such greatness is the best motivation for Melanie’s creative process. Her ultimate goal is to be able to make the whole world laugh.
And here’s Melanie’s Spidvid profile.
We thank Chris, Melanie, and Maurizio for being such fun and inspirational guests!
If you’re interested in sponsoring next month’s Spidcast show, then get in touch and let’s discuss a deal. If you have something to say with regards to what Chris and Melanie talked about, then post a comment below, send out a tweet, or share around the social web to continue the conversation. Thanks for listening, and be sure to share this show with anyone in your network who can get value from it!
Full Show Transcript Below
Michael London: I am Michael London and welcome to Spidcast, the future of collaborative video production brought to you by Indie Source Magazine where they believe free is better. On this episode, we’ll visit with the writer and director of “Side by Side”, Chris Kenneally and we’ll also have a very special guest. He’s an actor, a personality, a great cook and all around cool cat plus the creator, writer and actor of “The Maurizio Show”, Melanie Minichino. Thanks for being with us today on Spidcast.
First up is Chris Kenneally. Chris, welcome to Spidcast.
Chris Kenneally: Thanks for having me on. I’m happy to be here.
Michael London: So, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Chris Kenneally: I’ve been working in the film business in New York City for about 13 years. I’ve done a lot of post production supervision and also I made a documentary a few years back called “Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating.” And my most recent movie is “Side by Side” that it’s a documentary about the art, science and impact of digital technology on movie making.
Michael London: And Chris, tell us about how collaboration has benefited you in your projects specifically “Side by Side”.
Chris Kenneally: Yes, at the most recent project, “Side by Side” partnered with Keanu Reeves and the idea for the movie really developed out of conversion he and I were having just about moviemaking and the way the technology is changed and the impact that’s having all across the board on work flow. So, it was a good partnership because having Keanu’s name obviously helped us be taken a little bit more seriously when we were reaching out to get interviews especially when we have people like Martin Scorsese or James Cameron or David Lynch.
I’m sure Keanu’s name goes a little bit further than mine but also Keanu is on other projects which he had to entrust a lot of the directing and writing part to the job to me. So, I think we both work really well together.
Michael London: And so how was it working with Keanu Reeves in a different capacity than an actor?
Chris Kenneally: Keanu produced the movie and he was the first one who, during the conversation we’re having and said, “Hey, Chris, why don’t you and I should make a documentary about this topic and go out and grab interviews with these people?” And that just kind of, I don’t people know really that side of Keanu but he’s really serious kind of scientific brain that really wants to know how everything works. We’re working on a movie called “Henry’s Crime” that he was acting and producing and I was the post supervisor on it and while we were working there, he wanted to know how everything works in the lab, the Technicolor and how the mix works and the color correction and all of that stuff. So, he’s a really good producer and I think it’s a side of him, people will see in this movie that probably didn’t know before.
Michael London: Terrific and I know there’s a back story prior to you working with a name like Keanu. So, tell us a little bit about your journey?
Chris Kenneally: So, I was in Boston after college and I was writing, trying to write short stories and things like that and had a chance to up write a script for someone’s college film school movie and working with them on that, I really realized that this is something I wanted to do at my life. So, I started volunteering at this place Boston Film and Video where I would answer the phones but then I would also get to be the TA on classes and I got to learn cinematography and things like that and use all their equipment.
I started making short films and then I moved to New York and worked for free as an intern at a place called The Shooting Gallery and they eventually hired me on to be a post production coordinator and that gave me the opportunity to work with a bunch of different directors on independent films and really work closely between the director and the producer and become post production supervisor. And all during that time, I was making from short films for my own and like I said, before I made a documentary called “Crazy Legs Conti” which ended up doing pretty well and getting into a bunch of film festivals Tribeca and Los Angeles and Australia and we ended up selling that to A&E in America and Channel 5 in the UK.
So, I continued to make short films while working as a post production supervisor and the reason I was able to meet and work with Keanu is I was post supervising the movie that he was acting in and producing. So, it hasn’t been an overnight success but it’s kind of been a steady climb in doing whatever I had to do to be in the game, I guess.
Michael London: And would you say that that path is still available to those jumping into the business today?
Chris Kenneally: I think so, yes. I mean, it’s somewhat of a sacrifice but if it’s something you’re passionate about, I think working as an intern for a company that you respect that’s making the kind of movies you like if you work really hard, hopefully, you get a chance. I mean you get a chance hopefully, you can prove yourself. I was bartending at night and working for free during the day and if I hadn’t gotten that break, I don’t know really where I would be today but I think it’s worth it and you can learn about the business and you can learn whether it’s something you actually want to do or not.
But working for free is tough but it’s definitely a way in the dark. I had to hire some people to work on this film “Side by Side” and we are really lucky with the guys we worked with but there’s always space for somebody that works hard and gets the job done and is responsible and follows through on what they say. I mean there’s nothing better for me to be able to task someone with a project and feel confident that at the end of the day, they’re going to come back to me with an update that it’s done and they’re not going to drop the ball. I mean those types of people are always in demand.
Michael London: You know, Chris, I think there’s a misconception that the moviemaking is filled with a junk of flakes and guffaws, but in reality, there are some very responsible hardworking people who do what they said they’re going to do, right?
Chris Kenneally: Absolutely. I think it’s a highly competitive field. Not everyone but a lot of people come out of college. Don’t even go to college. A lot of people want to be in the entertainment industry, in the film and movie industry and that’s one of the reasons they can get people to work these crazy hours and work for free as they’re coming up. So, I think it’s a very competitive field and therefore, the people that stick around and make it are the people who are hardworking, smart, competent people. It’s a total meritocracy. There’s really no room for anybody who screws up or wants to make it a big party and not do what they say. You’re not going to last very long.
Michael London: And so what advice would you have for someone just jumping into the filmmaking business right now?
Chris Kenneally: I would tell someone jumping today to just be passionate about it, do the work. If you have an idea for a movie or a short set of dates that you’re going to shoot it, this is the day we’re going to do it and you’ll be surprised how motivated you can make yourself and also it sounds like a cliché, but the harder you work, the luckier you’d get. Once you set things in motion, there are so many other people out there who want to be involved in projects, a good project, the bad project. It doesn’t matter. People, once they see that you’re serious. You have a little thing that you want to shoot. You have an idea. You have a camera. People will jump in and help you.
Sometimes, very professional people, everyone is looking for a good project. It’s not always, so he isn’t always looking to make a bunch of money. Sometimes, it’s exciting to work with a young person who’s passionate and has an idea and it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes or it comes out like crap, that’s part of the process and when you’re making mistakes, you’re learning and as long as you’re out there doing it, you’re going to get better and better.
And then when someone comes along, like in my case, like Keanu, hey, he saw that I had made a documentary before. He got a chance to watch that and I think that’s why he approached me. If I hadn’t been kind of in trenches all those years, still trying to make shorts and learning the craft, I might not have been in the position where someone would actually put their trust in me for a bigger project. So, just go out there and do it and enjoy while you’re doing it and good things will happen to you if you work hard.
Michael London: So, where can we see some of your stuff, Chris?
Chris Kenneally: The “Crazy Legs” documentary, I believe is on Netflix and “Side by Side” should be in a bunch of film festivals this summer all around the world, in the United States and then in August, they’ll be kind of a limited theatrical release, I believe and then a big VOD on cable, Video on Demand, and then some of the other movies I’ve post supervised, I’m sure they’re on Netflix and places like that.
Michael London: Excellent. So, Chris, so by listening to this podcast today, we’ll say to someone else, “Hey, I’d just heard this and it’s a great piece of advice,” give us some great words of wisdom.
Chris Kenneally: My great words of wisdom that I want to be remembered by, I guess, work hard and have a positive attitude and be responsible and really try to enjoy what you’re doing. It just makes the work better and it makes life better for you and everybody.
Michael London: Chris, thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.
Chris Kenneally: Thanks. I feel like, I just gave a motivational speech. So that was fun.
Michael London: Spidcast, brought to you by Indie Source Magazine, the fastest growing independent filmmaker resource and the only free publication of its kind. Their mission is to bring you not only stories of the industries highly celebrated but also stories and insights from players in all areas of the media creation process. At Indie Source, they believe free is better and we agree. Visit them at indiesourcemag.com
We continue now with a special guest. He has his own web series. Welcome Maurizio.
Maurizio: Oh, how are you? It’s so nice to be here. Before we start, I have a question and what is this podcast? I’m on the radio right now or I’m on television?
Michael London: Well, actually, you are on television without the pictures.
Maurizio: Good, because I get so worried but I dressed all up so nice right now for you but I realized you’re not seeing me, right?
Michael London: Maurizio, I can assure our audience that you are very, very handsome fellow.
Maurizio: Yes, right now. We’re really nice, suit the (masculino) shoes, you’ll love these and I’m making a sauce right now so if I seem a little distracted, don’t worry, I’m making the sauce.
Michael London: Well, then that takes us to another topic. Is it sauce or is it gravy?
Maurizio: Oh, see, this is the problem. Gravy, you will never call this gravy in Italy. We call La Salsa.
Michael London: Got it, La Salsa.
Maurizio: Sometimes, American Italian call it gravy, it’s okay. And as long as it tastes good, it’s fine with me.
Michael London: Well, that’s fine with me too. So, tell us a bit about your story, Maurizio.
Maurizio: I come from Italy. I moved here to United States to go to Juilliard. I’m a piano player, you did not know? I play the piano very nice and I meet my wife, Nanette. She’s beautiful. She has a beautiful leg, this lady. She’s beautiful. So I stay here, United States because this country have so much to offer like a grill, like you grill on a Sunday time. The Americans grill or the hamburger, I love this and you get the best deals in United States. So, they decide to do show about me, I don’t know why, but I’m very happy about this.
Michael London: As well you should be. And I hear that your show is based on true stories, all things that have happened to you, is that right?
Maurizio: Yes, yes. This is these things. If you watch this season, in one episode, I play soccer and I lose one ball but this happened. This is true. One time I played so hard, I lose the ball. So, now, I take good care of the one I have left if you know what I mean, right? So, this happened in my life and like, for example, in another episode, I make a deal with the car dealership like I go lower and he’d go higher and then I go even lower but this is how Italians, we like to make the best deal. But I don’t understand. Everybody loves this show. They make a big deal but all Italians are like these. All Italians are like these so in Italy, this is normal, you know what I mean?
Michael London: So, wait a second, now you’re trying to make a deal for the car, are you a Ferrari man or a Lamborghini man?
Maurizio: You know what? I tell you what I really love, Alfa Romeo, you know this car?
Michael London: Yes, absolutely.
Maurizio: Yes, this is my favorite car, the two-seater speeder, Alfa Romeo is the best car. I love this car.
Michael London: That work for me. So, where do you see your series headed in the future?
Maurizio: Well, you want to know the truth, I probably see Maurizio series coming to like a big TV station like HBO Original Series. It would be like Maurizio Show and then it’d be me the star with all my friends. Also, I see in the future all the ladies love Maurizio. Oh, sorry, my wife, she’s listening. Sorry, Nanette, they look but no touch.
Michael London: Look but no touch, a good policy I’d say. So, Maurizio, I hear you had an interesting experience at the LA Web Series Festival.
Maurizio: Oh, yes. I go because I don’t know if I win award, if I don’t, I just want to have a good time. So, they asked Maurizio to be on this panel for women in their web series and they get confused when I show up because I’m not a woman. But it’s okay because I make everybody laugh. I was running around all over the place having a good time and everybody loves Maurizio. Everybody get a kick out of me, they laughed. We have a good time. Actually, we won the two big awards. We won the Best Comedy Web Series and the Best Actress in the Comedy Web Series. Again, I’m confused why they say actress but it’s okay because it’s an award.
Michael London: Well, congratulations on that. And tell us about the other stuff—
Maurizio: Hold on to me, but I forgot, I have a salsa on the stove. Oh, (Italian language) I’m sorry. I have to go and check on the salsa right now. I think I burn, you know what I pass the phone over to my daughter, Melanie, okay? I come back, okay?
Michael London: Okay, Maurizio. Take care, now.
Maurizio: Ciao. Ciao, ciao. Here, take the phone, Mel.
Melanie Minichino: Hello?
Michael London: Melanie?
Melanie Minichino: Hi, Michael. Thanks for having me on.
Michael London: You’re quite welcome. Your buddy there is quite the pistol.
Melanie Minichino: You know what? He is quite the character and he is just like nonstop while he’s a walking show so please excuse him if he’s a little all over the place.
Michael London: He is full of life. So, tell us, is his sauce excellent or what?
Melanie Minichino: I have to say that his sauce is the best sauce in the world and I would go home every Sunday and we’d have dinner and I’d have pasta and some meatballs and I’d be like heaven. I miss it.
Michael London: Sounds wonderful. So, Melanie, tell us a bit about your history with Maurizio.
Melanie Minichino: Okay, well, Maurizio is, I’m portraying my father, my real Italian father and I kind of grew up imitating him because he’s such a character and he really liked, people think I over exaggerate and then when they meet him, they’re like, “Wow, you’re actually not over exaggerating him at all.” He’s even like worse than how I portray him, not worse but he’s more of a character.
So, it was pretty much ingrained in me. So, it’s easy for me to step into that character.
Michael London: I know I got to ask, what does dad think about all this?
Melanie Minichino: At first, when he saw the series, my mom told me that he would watch it really closely and be like, “(Drivel,) is that me? Like is that really how I act?” But then he really, in the Maurizio fashion, really got a kick out of it and showed all his friends and was like, he kind of is like a mini celebrity amongst his group of friends even though it’s not him in it. He really enjoys it and he doesn’t take offense to it and he sometimes even calls me and will tell me stories of things that happened to like incorporate into the show. So, I think he’s kind of thinking as a producer on the show sometimes.
Michael London: A producer, yes. Probably waiting for a check as we speak.
Melanie Minichino: Yes, right? He’s waiting for his commission. He’s like, “When do I get my 10%?” I’m like when do I get mine?
Michael London: So, now, in one of the episodes, Maurizio does standup comedy. Have you ever done standup?
Melanie Minichino: I have never done standup and to be honest, it really scares me a lot. I give standup comedian so much credit because it’s so hard even when we did the episode when Maurizio did standup, it was easier because when you’re in character, it gives you creative freedom to really do anything but it’s still really hard because it’s just you up there and everyone is like just sitting there and waiting for you to make them laugh. So, it really scares me. Maybe one day, I’ll attempt it but I don’t know. I highly doubt it.
Michael London: So, no standup but tell us about the things you have done.
Melanie Minichino: Well, so I’m from New York, born and raised in New York and with Italian background. We actually lived in Italy when I was a little girl so I learned Italian and we spoke it in the house and I started, I think when I was about 8 and I was on and off. I was really shy as a kid so I didn’t get really far because I get to auditions and then like not say a word. So, I didn’t get hired a lot.
But then I started acting again after high school and I was doing pretty well in New York. I did like the New York shows, The Sopranos and Law and Order and things like that and then I started doing voice-overs which I kind of totally fell into and I auditioned for the promo voice of the Disney Junior Channel from New York and I got it and I had to move to LA for it which is really hard for me because my family and friends are all in New York but I did it. I took the plunge. I figured what’s so bad about going to LA with a job?
So, I came here and I’ve been here for about two years now and we started the Maurizio Show, I’d say about a year ago and we’d have 14 episodes and it’s got a lot of really good press and it’s opened a lot of doors for me. So, that’s kind of where I’m at now.
Michael London: Very cool and you know what? There is still a huge fan base so please tell us, what do we see you as on The Sopranos?
Melanie Minichino: Oh, I was actually in the very last episode which was so cool to be in the last episode. I was actually in the last casting session that they ever had for The Sopranos and I played Bobby Bacala. If you watched the show, you know who he is. (He’s missed). And at the end, he dies. So, if you didn’t watch it, sorry, you should have watched it but he dies and I’m at a funeral and I have a scene with everyone, Meadow and A.J. and it was really cool to be there for the last episode too because everyone was like really emotional and that was just a really cool experience.
Michael London: Oh, man, what a wonderful experience to be part of that filmmaking history.
Melanie Minichino: Yes, yes. It really, really was and David Chase directed us and it was really cool.
Michael London: So, Melanie, share with us a bit about you venturing into the online video world.
Melanie Minichino: Well, when I first got to LA, everyone has been doing web series for a really long time and my manager, Dan Cotoia was like, “I really want you to do something and showcase your comedy because no one knows that you’re funny.” He introduced me to another partner of his which is Brian Bellinkoff who shoots and edits The Maurizio Show and we had a little meeting and I had had this idea for a while to play my father just because I just knew it so well. And we were like, you know what? Let’s just start shooting, just me and Brian, we would write an episode—not really write out the episode but write the plot points, write the (arc) and then kind of just improvise from there because I found the improvising was much easier for me and we found a lot like the gold from improvising and we just literally, the next week, started shooting and started going in public and being like let’s try this in public because there’s a big public element to most episodes that we shoot kind of like hidden camera style.
And we were pleasantly surprised with what came out. I mean I didn’t know. I didn’t think—I didn’t know if it was going to be a total disaster or if it was going to be a real success and it turned out to be really funny and people seemed to really, really like Maurizio and he’s a really endearing character.
Michael London: He is indeed that and what would you say to people who are just thinking about getting into filmmaking?
Melanie Minichino: Well, when people asked me that, I usually say just to start, because that’s the hardest part is just to get on your feet and start, whether it’d be starting to write, starting to just shoot, starting to, if you have character you want to play, starting to just go shopping for character’s clothes and start experimenting with that character or videotaping yourself just to start because once you get that ball rolling and you never look back. And I’ve tried it, that’s the hardest part. People do a lot of talking, “I’m going to do this, I’m going to try this. I think this is a good idea,” and if you just do it, really you could find out what works and what doesn’t work.
Michael London: Great advice, Melanie. How has collaboration helped in your projects?
Melanie Minichino: Well, we’ve collaborated with a couple like Taryn Southern, she has a really big online presence. I’m sure you guys know who she is and Catie Upton who is more of a model and some other people along the way but the best thing about collaborating is just cross promotion especially to get people to watch your stuff and then for your audience to watch whoever you’re collaborating with. So, it really benefits both people because I doubt people who are checking out Catie Upton that’s like bikini model, are looking for this like Italian man. But then when they watched it, they realized, oh, this is actually really funny and vice versa.
So, I suggest that to any web creators to cross promote and find people that they want to work with and also when you work with other artists, it’s just fun. It’s interesting. They add another flavor whatever it’s that you’re doing.
Michael London: And tell us about some things you have coming up.
Melanie Minichino: I just did an episode of Kung Fu Panda which is a cartoon wherein I know they have the movie but I just did an episode. I play a snow leopard and we’re also developing couple other web series. One web series where I play like a Latina like Latina singer kind who’s ready to drop her single, so, that is to me we’re working on and then another web series that’s, I can’t really talk about too much about it we haven’t released a lot of information but I’ll be playing lots of different characters probably like about 10 characters and that also will have another kind of public hidden-camera element to it as well. So, you can look out for that.
Michael London: All right, chance to give a little shameless plug here. Where can we see all things Melanie?
Melanie Minichino: Oh, well, you can see all things Melanie, you can go to, I have a website, it’s melanieminichino.com and you can see what’s going on. You can also see The Maurizio Show at themaurizioshow.com as well and those sites, there’s Twitter and Facebook links to all that and you can check that out.
Michael London: Melanie Minichino, thank you for joining us today on Spidcast.
Melanie Minichino: Thank you so much. Oh, you know what, actually, Maurizio is looking at me right now. He’s like giving me a look that he wants to say goodbye. Can you hold on a second? I want to give the phone to him.
Michael London: Absolutely.
Maurizio: So, sorry. So, sorry, I was making the sauce, I thought I forgot. I have a question for you now, Michael. I see this people on this Spidcast with the sticker that says, Spidcast. I would like one of these stickers, is this a possibility?
Michael London: Yes. I usually trade stickers for pasta dinners.
Maurizio: You are very smart man. Okay, I give you this. You come over here, I make you a nice pasta, maybe a little salchicha (Bolognese), I don’t know. Also, I give you the secret, okay? But only between you and me, okay?
Michael London: Well, that’s an offer I can’t refuse. Maurizio, thank you so much for joining us today on Spidcast.
Maurizio: No, thank you very much. I’m so excited to see, to hear this, to see myself on TV.
Michael London: TV without pictures.
Maurizio: Oh, yes, that’s right, oh good. That’s right, I forget. Yes, I’m so excited.
Michael London: Thanks for listening to our Spidcast show. We appreciate your time and attention. You can now join the conversion at spidvid.com or on our Spidvid blog and you can join our collaborative filmmaking community at spidvid.com. Tune in next month for another entertaining and informative episode of Spidcast.