James Quattrochi is smooth. When he speaks, it’s confidential and rewarding. His PR agent, Victoria Talbot of Hype Inc. described him as handsome like a James Bond. He describes himself as shy and somewhat conservative. During our conversation, I was transplanted to a place and time where intelligence and emotions are connected; where art and life are one. Like I, he knows our world would be bland without the flavor art provides; for what is a meal without seasoning; mere sustenance. Life is meant to be lived, experienced, evaluated and accepted. This is the essence of art. Life. Experience. Acceptance.
Born and raised in West Chester NY, James has lived. He has experienced. “There were times I couldn’t afford lunch,” he tells me. From what I’ve learned experience builds character, which an actor I imagine should naturally have. James is an actor who just so happened to appear in one of my favorite films of all time: Goodfellas. “I was booked as an extra.” On set, by fate or chance he found himself standing next to none other than Martin Scorsese. That’s when James introduced himself and asked for Martin’s advice on getting his sag card. Next thing James is bringing his picture to Martin personally and got his sag card. “He gave me my sag card that first day.” James has held a deep respect for Martin ever since that fateful day. “…[Martin] has screened some of my films and has written me letters; he is a director I admire greatly!”
James is not only an actor but also a director, producer and writer; known in Hollywood as the complete package. I was interested in learning which craft he treasured most. “Definitely [meant to be] behind the camera,” James confesses, “I love directing most.” Of course I wanted to know why. “For me… Directing has the total in creativity on the set,” he replies. “It’s the most challenging.” The director’s job is to interpret the script and translate it to film. “I sit alone, read the script and it tells me how it wants to be directed,” James says describing his own process, “then I take the brushes and just add the color it needs.”
James has directed and produced quite a few films including a movie that came to play an important role in his decision to dedicate his life to the art of film making: True Friends. “I was in a Rite Aid one day,” the story begins; told by James as that day appears fresh in his mind, “…and a young lady approached me and asked, ‘Are you the guy from True Friends?’ I replied yes and then she told me that she’d seen my film at the Burbank AMC and that she’d left the theatre crying. She called her best friend from college. She said they hadn’t spoken in years and they were having lunch because of my movie. That was the biggest compliment anyone could ever give.” After she’d told him these words, he himself cried a little while sitting in his car and it was then that he knew what wanted to do with his future.
This incident with the lady in Rite Aid also showed him that his prayers were being heard, as the pressure of being creative was beginning to set in from deciding to take that fun and exciting but often dark journey; aspiring to win an Oscar someday. When he told me about not affording lunch, it was during this period of sacrifice that every artist endures for his craft that he was looking for hope; a message was sent. I understand this all too well being a natural born artist myself, but I also know how we can receive answers and direction from the most unlikely sources. Signs. And this was a sign that James was on the right track.
James also directed a film I have obvious and some not so obvious reasons to have interest in. The movie is called “The Sinatra Club.” Anyone who knows me understands the immediate appeal this movie has for me. My life isn’t like most. It knows no boundaries therefore I have a broader range of experience than usual. Opportunities to meet and become friends with people, who themselves share nothing in common other than me, from all over the world. Indeed I am blessed to have met and exchanged thoughts with someone like James Quattrochi.
The Sinatra Club is a movie based on mob figure John Gotti; I concede to having an affinity for gangster movies so this is a film I plan to see. “A great cast,” James says of the film, “terrific acting and well shot. It’s a moving film.” James was also a producer of the film but this isn’t the reason he became the director. “[I] got a call from a producer friend and she told me about the gig, I went on the interview and got the job. It was easy.”
Even though his journey from acting to directing was at times bleak, James’ talent caught the eye of Disney Studios. Disney hired James to direct the Sprouse twins from the hit show “The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody”; a modern Twain Story called “The Prince and The Pauper.” “Working with the Sprouse Twins was great,” James says, “[They’re] good kids. Shooting in Florida was so much fun. Sony [actually] picked it up. [Truly] it’s a great kid’s family movie!”
What is James’s own ‘Hidden Treasure?’ “What makes me… me?” James thoughtfully asks in return. “My giving and I have learned people take kindness for weakness.” Same as I and in lieu of this I have developed a hard side for balance.
“I saw footage of the reality show 'Hype' that you're producing with Victoria, is it as exciting as it seems?” I ask looking to learn more about the footage that had so impressed me. And believe me I’m a hard one to impress. “It’s a great show,” is his reply. “I hope to have that filming in the spring.”
James and I during our conversation, momentarily touched on the subject of low budgets and Oscar worthy performances; I asked him to name five films he felt fit this criteria. Here is his list.
1. Hurt Locker
2. A Profit
3. Godfather was made very low budget
5. Little Miss Sunshine
I have a book and movie script I'm working on and I wanted to know how a writer preserves the integrity of the original story when transferring it to screen. James laughs when he answers this; “Write the screenplay yourself,” he says. What advice does the ever expressive James Quattrochi have for aspiring artists? “Stay one more day. Don’t give up. We need all of you to color this world the way you do and make it a better place.” Well said.
"The Sinatra Club"
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