After a short hiatus, I am pleased to resume features with a leading lad on and off the camera, Greg Contaldi.
Greg, a Fairfield, New Jersey native, packed his bags and rushed off to the big city, with aspirations as bright as the stars. Currently studying at NYU, Greg wasn’t too thrilled with his admittance into an alternative Film and Television program, but once engulfed in the curriculum, he truly feels as though the program will benefit him in all regards. With a taxing program and 9 different projects, it is amazing that Mr. Contaldi has managed to keep up with all that he does. Luckily, he set aside time in his schedule and allowed me a glimpse into his hectic life.
To dedicate his entire life, free time and future, he must have a deep–seeded passion for film. “I’ve been interested in Film and Television, for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would always have a camera in my hand. If I weren’t filming skits with my friends, I’d be interviewing relatives at family parties or my brother’s sports events. As a child, I appreciated films made long before my time. My grandfather got me hooked on the movies he watched when he grew up. I was the only kid in elementary school who appreciated the work of Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and Sergio Leone. I was obsessed and it only intensified as I got older.
It was after I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, with my grandpa, that I realized I wanted to take part in the creation of the art. Inglourious Basterds was anything but a typical World War II flick. Tarantino puts a twist on the genre of war films and even rewrites history in the process. He has created his own vision of the world that is stylish, witty, and singular and I felt that I could do the same. I want to create my own vision in my films and Tarantino proved to me that there are NO LIMITS when it comes to filmmaking. I feel that I have the potential to create art that has never been seen before.”
And that potential must be cultivated so that it can bloom into what, no doubt, will be an incredible career. What was his first experience in this cultivation process, his first job in film? “My first professional experience working with production and film is when I began interning at Nightstand Studios, in Fairfield, NJ. Nightstand Studios is a fully operational Film, Television, Animation and Recording Studio owned and operated by Emmy Award Winner and Four-Time Nominee; Randy Rossilli, Jr. It was at this internship where I learned about all the aspects that go into a production from idea pitching, set/lighting design, camera setup, animation, and editing. I was able to experience entire productions from the beginning to the final edit.”
To add to that fantastic experience, Mr. Contaldi has also had his run in front of the camera as well. “At my high school, I was part of 5 productions; Guys & Dolls (Lt. Brannigan/ Assistant Director), Midsummer/Jersey (Lyle “The Understatement” Fagioli), Sweeney Todd (Ensemble/ Assistant Director), Our Town (George Gibbs), High School Musical (Ensemble). At NYU, I was part of the student production of Superbad and I am currently in rehearsals for Talk Radio. I have acted in a number of student films and I recently finished shooting a commercial for VYBE sunglasses.”
With each of those roles came experience and an interesting story. What was it like working on all those productions, especially a play based off of the hit movie, Superbad? “My high school drama club is where I got my real start in acting/directing. I was happy with the variety of different roles I was able to play. From a Guido on the New Jersey Shore to a police officer in 1950’s NYC to a murder victim baked into a meat pie.
The last play I was in was, Superbad, which closed three weeks ago. I was on the way to a club meeting when my friend told me that he was auditioning for Superbad. I was so confused. The movie? Are they making a sequel? But no. To my surprise a NYU student theatre group was putting on play version of the movie. I auditioned and I was fortunate enough to get a part. Well, actually many parts. I pretty much played every supporting character in the show. My roles included: Terry, Mark, Maroki (Evan’s Asian partner in home-ec), Liquor Store Employee, and Liquor Store Robber.
Superbad has been one of the most interesting projects I’ve ever worked on. We only had 3 rehearsals before our first show and we were able to use our scripts during the performance. It was a true immersive theatre experience. We performed the show in an apartment around our audience and even got them involved in the show.”
With all those being in the past, what is Mr. Contaldi working on as of now? “Currently, I am part of NYU’s Backstage Theatre Company’s production of Talk Radio. Talk Radio was written by Eric Bogosian and tells the story of Barry Champlain, a radio personality, on the eve of his radio show’s national syndication. I am playing the role of Stu Noonan, Barry’s radio operator.”
It seems as though Mr. Contaldi has pieced together an impressive resume for his future, one filled with multiple feats and talents to beat the band. How has New York helped him lengthen this resume? “My experiences since moving to New York City have been nothing but great. The city obviously opens doors to opportunity, and NYU continues to offer me the best resources, best advice, and best professors, so I can become not only the best filmmaker, but also the optimal person. Coming from a high school where “the arts” isn’t a top priority, it is nice to be in a community of people who are just as excited about the craft of filmmaking, acting, and media production as you are. NYU gives you the opportunity to meet and work with many industry professionals and I feel this is integral to understanding film and anything else.
As I said before, I’ve been doing a lot of acting on my own in student projects. Recently, I’ve been working with one of the Tisch Sight and Sound: Studio Classes acting in their TV shoots. I very much enjoyed acting on a professional set for a 3-camera shoot. It was much different environment then what I was used to.”
So much has already been accomplished, so what more is there to do? Where does he hope to see himself in the next 5 or 10 years? “Hmm. Lets see. In 5-10 years, I’ll still be relatively new to the industry. I hope to continue to get my foot in the door of the entertainment business world and be making connections. If all goes well, I hope to eventually have my own weekly variety/comedy series. Something similar to The Dean Martin Show. I want to put a spin on late night television and break away from the “set structure” many late night shows have today. Narrowing it down to only a weekly show will allow me to work on other projects as well. I hope to be directing features and have a drama series of my own.”
Well, with all that he has done, I’m sure he will far surpass his aspirations and be the star we all know he can be. It was an incredible pleasure and I know one day, we will all know the famous, Greg Contaldi.