"A Cannibal's Handshake" is the story of two brothers living in NYC who have chosen lives in cut throat businesses: one of as an earner for an Italian crime family and the other on the NYSE.
This story came to be when I was living in Hollywood and received a call from my old friend, Francesco Finizio. I had known Francesco since junior high school, but it had been some time. He let me know that he had been living in Malibu for almost a year and had been writing a novel. "A Cannibal's Handshake" is what he called it. The last I checked, Francesco, or Frank as he is sometimes known, was trading stocks in New York.
It was only natural his novel would include life as a stock trader, but as for how he obtained knowledge of an Italian crime family, I do not know. My guess is when a guy is first generation Italian, has the name Francesco Finizio and lives in NYC, he may be privy to the occasional underworld secrets that those of us of different origins are not.
Playing lacrosse in high school, possibly college and then trading stocks in NYC was a common thread where we came from, (Cold Spring Harbor, on Long Island N.Y.). Prior to Malibu, the last I saw Frank was in NYC. I'd see he and his trading buddies at the happy hours, restaurants and late night spots. They would be running on fumes while simultaneously throttling it in fifth gear, unable to pull over and take that much needed pitstop that any logical person, or outside observer could see they badly needed. They lived lifestyles where lines between taking the edge off and getting revamped for the following morning were blurred. (I know this was not all traders, but it was the case with this particular crew, the ones Frank would write about).
I went out to Malibu and met up with Frank. He said he was tired of the high paced, hard living, precarious lifestyle that he had in NY and now just wanted to surf a couple of hours in the morning and spend five hours a day breaking trail on his screed. It was a nice facade. However I have had many friends live tumultuous lives and know that severe down shifting is not always easy. Malibu is tranquil, pleasant, a place some people consider paradise, but for a few, not having anything to fear is the most frightening thing of all. Even if he was not yet aware of it, I knew Frank was merely transient. He left without ever publishing his novel. I read his pages, identified with the characters and thought it was a shame that the stories he lived through would just rot in a drawer.
The webs you see are snippets from that novel. Some of the scenes are directly from Frank's pages, others I modified or constructed for the medium.
Vihang Walve was the cinematographer and editor of six of the first episodes shot and was responsible for helping to establish the look of the series. I had seen Vihang's work on his award winning short film, "Morya" and asked him to come aboard. He liked the material and I liked his ideas for lighting the scenes. He has a good eye and is a trusted collaborator on set.
Playing the part of the two leads are Chris Bruno and Isaac Harrison. When casting for the part of Nico, I needed a cool, likable guy who could turn a switch and be a stoic killer. I didn't and still don't see the Nico character as a psycho. I see him as a very smart individual, who uses whatever tools are at his disposal to get the job done. If he never got caught up with the Longbardi crime family, he would probably never know the depths of his own killer instinct. I found this character in Chris Bruno. Chris has a diplomacy about him and he is also a thrill seeker. His experiences exist in his presence, giving the Nico character a smooth potency.
For the character of Paul Masanielo, Nico's younger brother, I needed someone who could manifest a hint of youthful altruism, while treading beside a sinking ship. Enter Isaac Harrison. Isaac is motivated, malleable and knows how to collaborate. Film making may be a director's vision, but it is a collaborative art where each player is an essential part of a team.
The score you hear is original work by either Travis Raab, (http://www.TravisRaab.com), a versatile, musical artist who can work in different genres and offer options when scoring a film, or Moby. I do not know Moby, but he has a sight called Moby Gratis where he offers music to independent film makers he doesn't charge them for until they make money from it. Moby, if you are reading this, thank you. You've been a fantastic collaborator.
Brett Lynch, who was an assistant director at times, created the title sequence . Scott Nery provided the green screen for the, "Brant," episode. People like Colin Palmer, (who also AD'd ) and Quincy Newton (Producer), were always there to bounce ideas off of when it came to the story.
This is an endeavor where the people involved worked more to show what they could do with limited resources rather than how big a paycheck they could get. They also dealt with me pushing them to do more and for that I am grateful.
Not everyone involved has been mentioned on this page. However if you want to know about what happened behind the scenes in the individual episodes, check out, Behind The Scenes, from the menu.
Our mission is to bring this story to a larger format. I believe hour long TV episodes would suit this story best. If you feel the same way, let me know. In fact if you have strong feelings either positive or negative about, "A Cannibal's Handshake," I'd like to know that as well. There is a contact page in the menu. In the meantime have fun watching webisodes of "A Cannibal's Handshake."