This South Philly Film Is No Turkey

Filed under: Arts and Entertainment,Featured News,Latest News,South Philadelphia |

by Maria Merlino

The women behind – and in front of – the new independent film, “Turkey’s Done,” from left: director Monique Impagliazzo; actress Cheri Oteri, who plays Peaches Bracco; producer Krystal Tini, who also plays Ava DeLuca; and producer Jennifer Tini.      Photo by Jennifer Condo

The women behind – and in front of – the new independent film, “Turkey’s Done,” from left: director Monique Impagliazzo; actress Cheri Oteri, who plays Peaches Bracco; producer Krystal Tini, who also plays Ava DeLuca; and producer Jennifer Tini. Photo by Jennifer Condo

For two glamorous days, the 1900 block of Jessup Street was transformed into a Hollywood set that was pure South Philadelphia.

Turkey’s Done is a short comedic film that tells the story of Peaches Brocco, played by Upper Darby native and SNL alum Cheri Oteri. Brocco discovers that being loyal to her jailbird cheating husband brings out her emotional quirks. The quiet Thanksgiving dinner Dino Brocco, played by Al Sapienza, expected turns into an all-out, over-the-top revenge starring the stuffed turkey.

The comedy was written by South Philadelphia natives Jennifer Tini, her sister Krystal Tini and Monique Impagliazzo.

“I’ve been everywhere,” begins Jen Tini. “But there is no place like South Philly. Councilman Mark Squilla got us permits and donated a meat-and-cheese tray from Di Bruno Bros. When Al Sapienza, who was in “The Sopranos,” tasted the food, he said, ‘We don’t get this in New York anymore. Little Italy is no longer Little Italy.’”

The film short is not just set in South Philly; it is a labor of love involving the entire community here.

“The people are so good to us,” Jen Tini continued. “Pastificio has sponsored us, as you can see by the T-shirt one of our characters is wearing. It also sold meatball sandwiches and gave us the proceeds. All the local crew has donated the time and labor. We’ve raised money on Indiegogo, in addition to celebrity DJ-ing at Jerry Blavat’s Memories in Margate and bartending

DIRECTOR Monique Impagliazzo, Hollywood pup Leo, Hair/Make-Up/Wardrobe specialist Krystal Tini and Producer Jen Tini take a few moments for a smile break. Photo by Maria Merlino

DIRECTOR Monique Impagliazzo, Hollywood pup Leo, Hair/Make-Up/Wardrobe specialist Krystal Tini and Producer Jen Tini take a few moments for a smile break. Photo by Maria Merlino

at Keenan’s in Wildwood. Real estate agent Maria Rosetti got us the house that we filmed in, and the owner let us use her pots and pans and any item we needed. Mark Leuzzi, Sr. gave us an office.”

The story was inspired by a roundtable story swap with other South Philadelphians. Any true South Philadelphian has numerous anecdotes about a relative or neighbor that you can’t make up. Friend and actor Steven Del Brocco remembered a story his grandmother told him about a Thanksgiving Day marital spat that became the impetus for the film.

The crew of this production hope it is just the beginning of a larger product.

“This is just a short, a film that we can show to the financial people,” Jen Tini explained. “We raised $25,000 for this. There is a finished script already, but we are giving you a taste of the characters and what the South Philadelphia experience is all about. We can show a script, but the product is what sells.”

THERE WAS an open set when the crew started filming. Neighbors were welcomed to watch the goings on. Photo by Maria Merlino

THERE WAS an open set when the crew started filming. Neighbors were welcomed to watch the goings on. Photo by Maria Merlino

When asked about how the state’s crackdown on film production tax breaks had impacted their project, Jen Tini replied, “We don’t care about tax credits. We want to bring work back to the city in film. That’s why we’re shooting here and not in L.A. We have a crew of 30 for just a two-day shoot.”

Cast as the “gaybor” in this pilot film, Del Brocco, of “The Great Experiment,” left South Philadelphia for Hollywood to pursue a career in acting. “It was 2006. I was the first to get there and then Krystal, Jen, Monique and Jen Barkowitz followed. It was the best thing I did – and the worst – because you realize there’s a bigger world,” he said.

“But my whole family is here,” he continued. “The irony is that I came home to South Philly to play a South Philly guy in a South Philly neighborhood! I love being back home, though. My sister-in-law is making a big pot of crabs and macaroni on Sunday. That’s the first thing I demand.”

MAKEUP ARTIST/hair/wardrobe stylist Krystle Tini takes few minutes to discuss the lighting with the crew, many of whom were Local 8 that donated their time. Photo by Maria Merlino

MAKEUP ARTIST/hair/wardrobe stylist Krystle Tini takes few minutes to discuss the lighting with the crew, many of whom were Local 8 that donated their time. Photo by Maria Merlino

1st District City Councilman Mark Squilla also pitched in. “We were so excited to see South Philly used as a backdrop,” he said. “Monique, Jen and Krystal were able to shoot where they grew up. To represent the city in a movie is a total win-win situation. Maybe the city, not the state, can do some work for tax credits. We would have to look into that, but seeing it as gaining revenue when a movie shoots here. The benefits to hotels, shopping, food, personal services, the extras – just putting people to work is what the industry brings. When people see Philadelphia in a movie, when they see the name on the screen, they want to come here and experience our city.”

Mary Anne Claro of Claro’s Talent Agency was on the set. “Monique (Impagliazzo) started to work for me when she was 19 as my personal assistant. I also met the Tini sisters, Jen and Krystal. I am so filled with pride when I see how talented and how far they have come. It’s so much positive thinking and finding ways to make your dream come true. I have complete confidence in them. They take action.”

The blond bombshell on the set, cast as “The Mistress,” is Jeanie Sciolla, who holds a merchandising and design degree. “My car is playing ‘The Convertible,’” she said with a laugh.

JESSUP STREET neighbors got up early to watch how movies are made. Samantha Miller, Philip Di Battista, Joe Morris, Kathy Migliarese and Megan Moran stopped all their chores to be part of the set. “I’ve been Facebooking all morning,” said Moran. I put Thanksgiving Day

JESSUP STREET neighbors got up early to watch how movies are made. Samantha Miller, Philip Di Battista, Joe Morris, Kathy Migliarese and Megan Moran stopped all their chores to be part of the set. “I’ve been Facebooking all morning,” said Moran. I put Thanksgiving Day

Sciolla has an in with the crew. She the mother of Jen and Krystal. “I also have a son, Ron, who is a talented carpenter. I had to raise my children as a single mom when they were 6, 5 and 4. What they’re doing now is fantastic!” she gushed. “They’ve worked for years. One of their movies came in third place at an L.A. film festival. The same morals my mother and father taught me, I instilled in them. They love family; that’s why they write family stories.”

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