rc_posterGreen Apple Entertainment announced this past week that writer/director Frank Lisi’s volatile mix of teenage miscalculations combined with sex, drugs and murder, Red Corvette , will be heading to DVD on Apr. 30.

The film worked the festival circuit during 2012, including a well-received rollout at the New Jersey Film Festival and nice buzz at the Philadelphia Film Festival. Green Apple Entertainment has picked up this DreamQuest Entertainment film production and is ready to rock and roll with it.

At the center of the story is Cindy (Valerie Bauer), a high school senior who has managed to work her way into a make-up summer class for English. She just wants the hell out of high school (filmed in around Ashbury Park, New Jersey) and knows that the only way — short of a GED — is to just buckle down and get through the class.

She’s not stupid and has done fairly well in school, but some double-dealers pranked her into a failing grade. As a result, she’s cut herself off from the social scene; becoming something of a loner.

Imesa_bauer_news1t’s simple, right? Just get it done — a half-dozen weeks of summer school. How hard can that be? No sooner does she park her lovely teenage body in her seat, when she meets Bella (Katherine Mesa —The Last Gamble, Hellfire ), the school’s bad girl, who is rumored to be the daughter of some New York City crime lord. It’s oil and water … an unlikely mix.You can see where this is going. Frank Lisi wouldn’t have much of a story if Cindy just stuck to her plan. So is it English class or hang out with the cool girl that also just wants out of the place?

First, the rumors are true, Santino (played by Frank Lisi), is a mob guy.lisi_news1



Secondly, with the likes of his minions — Gino (Vinny Vella — as Jimmy Petrille in The Sopranos , plus such films as Casino, The Kings of Brooklyn , etc.) and Frankie Hats (Tommy DelCorio) — and some tasty wheels for his little princess (who likes to party!!!), it’s just a matter of time before the sex, the alcohol and the drugs get our Jersey girl into some very deep water.

The mob, murder (dad does take care of business) and the police … that summer English class isn’t looking so bad about now!

Some Guys Have All the Pluck
Frank Lisi, a longtime Rutgers–Newark employee, fulfills a dream of writing and directing his own movie.
Katherine Mesa, Frank Lisi and Valerie Bauer
Frank Lisi, photographed here in a boiler room at Rutgers–Newark, is the creator of The Red Corvette, starring Katherine Mesa (left) as Bella Fagone and Valerie Bauer as Cindy Reese. Photography by Benoit Cortet

Frank Lisi, photographed here in a boiler room at Rutgers–Newark, is the creator of The Red Corvette, starring Katherine Mesa (left) as Bella Fagone and Valerie Bauer as Cindy Reese. Photography by Benoit Cortet

Frank Lisi, photographed here in a boiler room at Rutgers–Newark, is the creator of The Red Corvette, starring Katherine Mesa (left) as Bella Fagone and Valerie Bauer as Cindy Reese. Photography by Benoit Cortet
In 2004, Frank Lisi was a shop steward in the central heating plant at Rutgers–Newark when he decided to give a go at acting. Soon, he had work as an extra on The Sopranos and Law and Order, but a bout with cancer derailed his new career—and also got him thinking big. What was on his “bucket list”? Lisi wanted to direct a movie.

That’s a dream for plenty of people. But Lisi made it happen. Drawing on his experience on the set (“it was like on-the-job training”), he produced a short film, A Sicilian Tale, which garnered the Best Crime Short award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in 2009. Next was a feature-length movie, The Red Corvette, about a high school girl in a volatile friendship with the daughter of a reputed mob boss. The film appeared at the New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers–New Brunswick this spring. The budget? Under $30,000, with about 100 people involved in the production—and Lisi himself in a supporting role.

“I shot maybe once a month for a year, and I did side jobs and saved money here and there and got it done,” says Lisi, who continues to work at Rutgers, where he started out in 1989 as a maintenance mechanic. “It was something I always wanted to do.”

— Allan Hoffman

Check out the trailer for The Red Corvette.


Rutgers-Newark’s Hollywood Connection
Pop artist Andy Warhol once promised that everyone would have 15 minutes of fame. The Rutgers-Newark campus has had a lot more than that, directly as well as indirectly, on both the big and small screen, thanks to its alumni, faculty and staff. How much do you know about lights, camera and Rutgers-Newark?  Here’s a way to test your knowledge and learn some interesting trivia!
1. What popular film starring Matt Damon and Ed Norton, about gambling and law school students, was filmed in the building at 15 Washington St. while it was still the Rutgers School of Law-Newark?
2. Name the violent film about drug dealers in which Russell Crowe portrayed a detective who, in real life, is an R-N alumnus.  What was the alum’s name?
3. The film Goodbye Columbus is based on a novel set in and around the City of Newark.  What are the story’s connections to Rutgers-Newark?
4. On the TV comedy Scrubs, he played a hapless medical intern trying to juggle medicine and his love life.  In real life his dad is an adjunct professor at the Rutgers School of Law-Newark.  Who is this actor, producer, writer and director?
5. A film about the Atlanta child murders of the late 1970s has been optioned.  What novel  is it based on, and what ties it to R-N?
6. This R-N professor, now retired, penned an anti-Vietnam war novel that was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Jane Fonda, Jon Voight and Bruce Dern.   Name the professor, the movie and the novel.
7. This now classic tale of a little boy having the mother of all bad days was first a book, then a play and a TV special, and now is slated to be a Walt Disney Pictures movie. Who is the boy, what is the book and what do they have to do with Rutgers-Newark?
8. Before the band Hanson there was another set of fair-haired brothers singing rock and roll, the Nelson twins.  They were following in the footsteps of their grandfather, a bandleader, entertainer and TV star who graduated from the Rutgers School of Law-Newark. Who was he?
9. What indie film about a colorful sports car was directed by an R-N physical plant employee, and what is his name?
10. Turn on the DVD version of Peter Jackson’s 2005 version of King Kong, watch the behind-the-scenes features and you will see which R-N professor talking about Depression-era New York City?
What award-winning documentary, produced by R-N, features a walking tour of Newark conducted by Clement Price, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers?

Fair Lawn director makes feature debut at New Jersey Film Festival – click here for story


Filmmaker drives for success with ‘Red Corvette’

By Anthony J. Machcinski | Observer Correspondent
Five years ago, Kearny resident Frank Lisi battled cancer, a challenge no one ever wishes to endure. This summer, after becoming cancer-free a couple years ago, Lisi will unveil his second film, “The Red Corvette.”
“There is a little bit of everything in this movie,” said Lisi, who not only is the producer for the film, but acts in it as well.
Acting is nothing new for Lisi. He attended the Penny Templeton Studio in the hopes of an acting career.
“I never wanted to be a director,” Lisi said. “I thought it was too much of a headache.”
However, at the studio, Lisi not only learned the nuances of acting, but also many things on the other side of the camera. Eventually, he became intrigued by the actors themselves.
“I learned how to love to work with the fellow actor and to get the best out of them. I like working with the actor directly,” explained Lisi. “The lighting and cameras are important, but I trust my crew. Pulling the best performances out of each actor, I get a thrill out of that.”
Lisi’s first film, “A Sicilian Tale,” won the prize for the Best Short Film Crime Drama at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festi-Val in 2009. Despite a change in genre, Lisi hopes that the success will continue.


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“You have to change the genre,” said Lisi, who went from crime drama to more
of a suspense drama with “The Red Corvette.” “I want to do a little bit of everything. I didn’t want a film that was beginning to end a Mafia film. I wanted to tell the story of two opposites attracting.”
However, Lisi knows that a flourishing movie is not a one-man production, rather, it’s a well-oiled V8 that will make “The Red Corvette” purr to success.
“Everyone has that passion for film making,” said Lisi of his Director of Photography Sonny Vellozzi and Assistant Director Tisha Tinsman. “We could be on the set for 12 hours, and they would say, ‘Who cares? We’re making the movie’.”
With actors and crew who truly love the passion and not the money, Lisi was able to use his creative ability to achieve his goal of switching genres. Inspired by a real-life story, “The Red Corvette” was driven by Lisi’s motivation to find a movie that would attract a younger demographic.
“I have teenagers of my own,” said Lisi, “Violence sells. Sex sells. That’s what young people want to see, but the moral of the story still is kind of sad.”
The story is fueled by its two lead actors, Valerie Bauer, playing ‘A’ student Cindy Reese, and Katherine Mesa, playing mob princess Bella Fagone.
“I had a hard time finding someone for the Cindy Reese character,” recapped Lisi, “but from the moment I saw (Valerie), I knew she was the right woman for the role.”cindy
Along with the two relatively unknown leads, the movie also features Vinny Vella, from “Casino” and “The Sopranos” fame, as well as ex-Kearny High School teacher Artie Pasquale, who also had a role on “The Sopranos.”
Once editing is finished in the summer, Lisi will send the movie to multiple film festivals, hoping for both “The Red Corvette” and “A Sicilian Tale” to be distributed. Unmotivated by the greed, Lisi still hopes to make a return on his films.
“It wouldn’t be bad to make a dime here and there to pay people what they should be paid for this film,” Lisi explained.
As for his own career, Lisi hopes to get in front of the screen more.
“I spent the last four years making two films,” Lisi said. “I’d like to land some nice character roles.
Lisi has been trying to get cast in the next season of HBO’s hit show “Boardwalk Empire,” but does not want people to typecast him as the Italian gangster.“In the future, I’d like to get more acting jobs, roles, and branch out,” Lisi said. “I’ve been stereotyped as a gangster, but I can play other things.”

Lisi realizes that show business is not the easiest to break into, but that has not stopped his determination.“Whatever it takes, I’m going to do more auditioning and try to go into more films,” Lisi said.

“The Red Corvette” is currently in the editing phase of production and will be entered into summer film festivals with the hopes of bringing in more awards.

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International Film Festival - Manhattan

International Film Festival – Manhattan







sagValerie Bauer, Tisha Tinsman and Frank Lisi. Photo courtesy of Frank Lisi

The Red Corvette, a SAG-signatory production, premiered at the New York International Film Festival. Lead actress Valerie Bauer won Best Actress in a Feature Film. The project was created by SAG actors to employ other SAG actors under a SAG contract. SAG Branch actress Tisha Tinsman served as the film’s assistant director. Frank Lisi, a SAG actor-turned-SAG-signatory-producer (DreamQuest Entertainment) directed the film. SAG actor and signatory Sonny Vellozzi (creator of the SAG New Media Series Finders Keepers) was director of photography on the project. SAG Council members-at-large Chris McMullin and Brian A. Wilson are in the cast along with John Mitchell and Stosh Zona .