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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our eighth calendar year
    PCR #362  (Vol. 8, No. 9)  This edition is for the week of February 26--March 4, 2007.

MegaConned '07  by ED Tucker
An Interview With Paul Guzzo  by William Moriaty
"Wild Hogs"  by Mike Smith
Greetings and Salutations....The Rondos Are Here! The Rondos Are Here!...The Musicality Of It All  by Matt Drinnenberg
And The Oscar Goes To....And The Anti-Oscar Goes To....The Real Deal....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 9: John Belushi  by Mike Smith
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An Interview With Paul Guzzo

My interest in films independently produced in Florida did not manifest itself until I furnished with some VCR tapes by local actor and Florida Folk Hero Gustavo Perez. He loaned my three such tapes that contained outtakes from Gus’s many television and movie appearances (the Gus Perez Collection) as well as the movie “Jen-Gal 2” starring legendary B actor Conrad Brooks, and Jose Prendes’ great movie with Conrad Brooks and Denise Duff, “The Monster Man”.

These movies were all reviewed in the February 25, 2002 edition of PCR #101 in an article I simply titled "Locally-Produced Movies”.

After watching these three works, I continued to watch more independently-produced movies, giving my most recent review of a movie called “The Bite” in the March 20, 2006 edition of PCR #313. This movie was produced and acted by another Florida Folk Hero, Joel D. Wynkoop.

My first encounter with Paul and Peter Guzzo, affectionately known in the Tampa Bay area as “the Guzzo Brothers” was at the showing of Gus Perez’s movie “Light of Blood” at the Romeo Coffeehouse in Ybor City. This event was covered in the June 13, 2005 edition of PCR #273.

I would not return for another Guzzo Brothers film review until I saw the Gino Cabanas movie “The Cross”, starring and written by Steve Stavrakis. This movie was shown by the Guzzo’s at the Tampa Film Review venue in Ybor City’s International Bazaar in February 2006 and is featured in the February 13, 2006 edition of PCR #308.

That movie was without doubt one of the most profound, moving and professionally made works of art on film I have ever witnessed. No longer was my world of Florida independent films limited to monster movies made on a shoestring with a lot of heart, no, this movie was truly Hollywood at all levels, with human interest at its most poignant.

I was overwhelmed, and I became a TFR attendee on a monthly basis from there on out. It would be the last feature length film that the Guzzo’s would share at this great monthly event, but that didn’t matter to me.

I never fail to be amazed at the diversity and quality of independent films that these two Garden State transplants and newly anointed Florida Folk Heroes have provided us over the past three years.

No one has done more to put the independent film community in Tampa on the map than Paul and Peter Guzzo. The most outstanding qualities that these two have is their ability to coalesce this quirky and divisive community of actors, writers, producers, artists and directors so seamlessly and flawlessly. Most of this I credit to their outstanding people skills as well as their professional networking abilities.

I finally deduced after years of being treated to such quality fare as they have provided, that it was high time that I recognize them for their great efforts by conducting an interview. Paul Guzzo was kind enough to find the time and had the following to say about his and his brother’s film exploits and aspirations.

Will: When did you develop an interest in movies?

Paul: I had to take a summer class for my final credits to graduate. I'd already walked, but needed these last few credits. In a two-day period my electricity was shut off, my car broke down and my girlfriend dumped me all while I was alone on campus (all my friends were gone).

Anyway, I thought my situation made for a good screenplay so I bought a book on how to write a screenplay and began learning how to write. That screenplay never was complete, but it did peak my interest in writing (it was fun) and many parts of it, including most of the characters, became the base for “99“, which we produced last year.

It wasn't for another 4 or 5 years that my brother Pete and I actually started making films, though.

Will: When did you move to Tampa and under what circumstances?

Paul: First of all, I'm from New Jersey ...

In 1997 my roommate and his girlfriend were going to drive to Florida to visit an ex-girlfriend of my friend Gene, who is in all our films. At the last minute, my roommate got stuck at work all weekend and I volunteered to make the trip with his girlfriend since I had nothing to do.

We came to Florida and my friend's ex took us to Ybor City. I had a ball! After I graduated I wanted to move out of New Jersey and Gene was the only one willing to move too. I wanted to come to Tampa because I had such a good time in Ybor, but Gene said he couldn't because his ex lived here and proper protocol dictates that you not move to a city your ex lives.

So we were all set to move to Vegas or Phoenix when his ex decided to leave Florida and move to LA. I then convinced Gene that Tampa was the place and we came here with no jobs, friends or money. My brother came down for vacation a few weeks later. His two day vacation turned to 2 weeks, then he went home to start college and when he woke up to drive to campus for first day he packed his bags and told my parents he was coming to Tampa! He stayed on my couch for 3 months. Me, Pete and Gene pulled all our money together during that time in a cigar box (fitting for Ybor City! Will), sharing so we had enough money to eat.

Will: When did you make your first movie or short subject and what was its title?

Paul: Our first film was actually for Pete's public speaking class at the University of Tampa (I think). It was called “A Day In the Life of an Alcoholic“. We shot it real time on a VHS cam.


We really got into filmmaking a year later though when Pete had to take the producer's class at public access as a UT mass communications requirement. For the final they had to produce a show. Pete asked me, Gene and our friend Jason to be the talent. We sat there and talked about how we never get girls. We did this for 60 minutes and had a blast! After the class someone who worked at public access said we were good on camera and should have a regular show. So we did it!

We didn't wanna talk for 60 minutes every week so we started shooting short films to fill time. Our first was a movie trailer depicting us as action heroes who had to rescue the President's dog from a kidnapper who planned on taking over the world by brain washing the dog with a "Viking mind control device." It was just a plastic Viking helmet placed on my dog's head.

As the years went on, the short films/skits got better and better until Pete approached me about writing a feature film based on what we talked about on our public access show - Spooners. And, as a result “A Joyce Story” was born!

It was shot on 16mm at the James Joyce Irish Pub. While it was not up to par with what we do today, we are still proud of the film.

I think a trailer is still online at http://www.1dayfilms.com/trailer_joyce/joyce_trailer.php While the film never went anywhere, we did get great experience - me writing, Pete directing, and both of us producing - and we met Matt Camero, Justin Trombetto and Jereme Badger on set - all of whom have acted in pretty much everything we've done since.

Will: What gave you the inspiration to hold film reviews?

Paul: We had a great time at Saints and Sinners one year and kept saying a monthly event held in a coffeehouse would be cool. A year later the Coffeehouse Film Review was born.

The first month was still an accident though. We needed a venue to show a short that Pete directed, wrote and produced " Life Is A Circus". When we premiered "A Joyce Story" we had such a huge crew and cast we rented the Improv in Ybor and made our money back from ticket sales to friends and family of those who made the film with us.

"Life Is A Circus" was a small cast and crew so that wasn’t possible. So we asked the Romeos if we could use their coffeehouse, they said yes, we found other short films to make the night more full, everyone had a good time and we said let's do this every month. I contacted Nolan a week later to tell him of the new event, he promoted it, and the rest is history.

Will: Over the past three years how many films do you think you've shown at your film reviews?

Paul: Over 150

Will: In all of the movies you've shown, do you have any favorites or are there some that really stick out in your mind?

Paul: I love “Entering Wendy” by the Zara brothers. I love everything they do.

Will: What are the most fulfilling things that you see happening in the Tampa film community and what are the most challenging?

Paul: For most fulfilling read my article in CFN ( PCR #357- http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr07/filmlookpcr357.html) about the three years of the TFR. When I write about providing those moments ...

As for most challenging - it's moving on and getting better. Like the films we produce, we want every event and every year to be better than the last. The partnership program we feel will make TFR better than ever. And loaning films to the Art Museum is huge!

Will: Over the past three years have you observed any notable changes in the attitude of local government concerning the promotion of movies made by independent film makers in the Tampa area?

Paul: Government officials? No. They are still not coming.

BUT, Krista Soroka, the film commissioner, comes whenever she is in town, which is an improvement over the old film commissioner, and the fact that The Tampa Museum of Art now includes local filmmakers in their art events shows how far we have all come. We are on par with the other art forms now and I'm excited!

Will: Over the next year, what goals do you have for the direction of the Tampa Film Review and where do you see the independent film movement in Tampa over the next decade?

Paul: Same as I mentioned earlier, keep looking for ways to grow. In the next decade - I wanna see local films showing on television here in Tampa. That's the next step. Whoever has the power to do that - go do it!

Will: Paul, here's thanking you for participating in this interview and here’s thanking you and your brother for the significant and profound work that you’re both doing on behalf of the Florida independent film community!

"La Floridiana" is ©2007 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.