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Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #24: Nick Sandow Tries to Mess with the Gangster Genre in ‘The Wannabe’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #24: Nick Sandow Tries to Mess with the Gangster Genre in 'The Wannabe'

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

Gotti-obsessed and hopelessly in love, Thomas (Vincent Piazza) and Rose (Patricia Arquette) are looking to fit in to a neighborhood where mob-ties equal social currency. Amidst events surrounding the 1992 trial of John Gotti, Thomas and Rose attempt to make their mark. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese. [Synopsis Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival]

The “Orange is the New Black” actor talks about directing his second feature film, “The Wannabe.”

READ MORE: ‘Goodfellas’ 25th Anniversary Reunion to Close 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

Based on true events.

There was only one story for Thomas Greco in New York City in 1992. As John Gotti stood trial and center stage, no story was more fascinating, more high stakes or more out of reach for Thomas, a mob wannabe from a neighborhood where ties to Gotti were the ultimate social currency. As Thomas searches for any opportunity to insert himself into a world in which no one wants him to have a part, another neighborhood fixture, the fading beauty Rose, sees in Thomas the chance to realize her own desire for acceptance and belonging. Through their manic and misguided pursuit to matter to someone, their lives and fates become more intertwined, more volatile and more newsworthy than either of them could have ever imagined.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

What’s it really about? The tragedy of desperately wanting to be something you’re not.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Bronx. I currently live in Brooklyn with my girlfriend and our two sons. I’ve been working as an actor in NYC for over twenty years. I currently work on a TV show called “Orange is The New Black.” “The Wannabe” is my second feature as a director.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Over 30 locations in 20 days in the heart of NYC… Cars, guns, unions.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Well, this is a hard one. I always want them to leave with questions. The same questions I asked myself throughout the process. Questions about identity, such as: Who do I think I am? Who do I want to be? What role does my relationship play in that, and what role do movies and popular culture play in the idea I have of myself?

Any films inspire you?

There were many films that inspired “The Wannabe.” Our lead character was highly influenced by gangster films and we were trying to mess with the genre. I think the films that most directly influenced the film and my approach were: “Mafioso” and “Mean Streets.” “Mafioso” for the comedic elements, and “Mean Streets” for its raw honesty.

What’s next?

I have two stories I’m working on. One is a small, intimate, day in the life look at a retired football player. It’s pre concussion consciousness and he is suffering with dementia. The other is a bigger film about a young idealistic ex-soldier who goes to Syria to fight the revolution against Assad.

What cameras did you shoot on?

We used the red camera.

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

No, I didn’t crowdfund. We were very lucky to have Martin Scorsese come on as executive producer. That helped us partner up with Dean Devlin and Electric entertainment. They fully financed us and have been a great partner on this.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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