Suburban Cowboy, from Ryan Colucci and Grammy-nominated EDM artist Dragan Roganovic (aka Dirty South), premieres on VOD this August from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Suburban Cowboy follows a drug dealer on Long Island who finds himself over his head when one of his soldiers robs a connection to ruthless Serbian gangsters. When the debt falls on his shoulders he is forced to take drastic measures.
Frank Raducz Jr, Alandrea Martin, Louie Iaccarrino, and Matty Finocchio star in a film by Ryan Colucci and Dragan Roganovic, on VOD this August.
You did this whole movie yourself – well, almost! Tell us what hats you wore!?
I wrote the film, directed, was the lead producer and also the editor. I think, considering the budget, what we were able to accomplish and the level of professionalism across the board was awesome. It was an amazing experience from start to finish working with my good friend Dragan Roganovic on it… and it was the first project that I got to do exactly how I wanted – meeting every cast and crew member personally before bringing them on. And it turned into a fine-tuned set. In fact, we were so efficient that we only went into over-time on one day and were able to shave a day off our shoot schedule – on what was a micro-budget film, which is pretty rare. I need to give credit to the cast and crew though. Regardless of how many hats I wear, filmmaking is a group effort and I had some people working on the film at reduced rates out of sheer belief in me.
How different would the film had been if it were made by a major studio, you think?
This could have easily become a pretty standard B-movie. Plug a pretty TV actor into the lead role, water down the language and keep everything looking really slick. And it would be lifeless. I think what I bring to the film is authenticity. It’s true to life, at least in the part of the world I come from.
Also, because of our low-budget we were able to take some risks creatively. In terms of the style, I wanted a more personal/intimate feel. There are no establishing shots. We enter and exit every scene with the lead. It was important to me that we experience this journey with our lead. When characters speak in a different language, specifically Spanish and Serbian, Jay has no clue what they’re saying. So we didn’t subtitle it because we didn’t want the audience knowing what they were saying. If this were a more traditional movie a studio would probably never go for a sequence where the lights go out and there’s a lap dance… or for a shadow to come to life as a werewolf during a fight.
How much of an influence was, say, Scorsese and De Palma on the film?
De Palma has been an influence on me overall, but not on this particular film per se. Being an Italian American from New York, and making a film about Italian Americans in New York, it’s almost impossible for Scorcese not to be an influence. One of the films that I would reference during the production process was Mean Streets. It is so raw and visceral – that is what I wanted to capture with Suburban Cowboy. However, I was more influenced stylistically by Nicholas Winding Refn, specifically his Pusher trilogy.
How did you go about casting the lead role?
We knew we weren’t going to get a name on a micro-budget. So we brought on a casting director and had one objective, cast as wide a net as possible. And still, we couldn’t find anyone. The problem when you put out a breakdown for a leading man is you get all the people who envision themselves as the lead in an action movie. We didn’t want someone who was acting because they were good looking. We wanted someone believable. We wanted someone who felt authentic. At first we were hoping to find someone more physically imposing, but then Frank came in. In fact, he didn’t audition for the lead. He came in for the part of Ricky (a dealer who is double-crossing Jay). Dragan and I watched the first auditions each night after the casting director would upload them. On this day, we were in two different rooms going through them separately. I was making my notes document to send to Dragan and had just finished. Frank was the last audition of the day. My note said, ‘really good but what if he read for the lead?’ Dragan walked into my office and was like, ‘there’s something interesting about this guy Frankie. Do you think he could pull off Jay?’
He was not at all what we envisioned physically, but I think we both knew right then and there that it was his to lose at that point. Neither of us said so, but we were both thinking it (side note: there were a lot of instances where Dragan and I were weirdly on the same page creatively like that). So we called the casting director to tell him we wanted to bring this guy back but to read for Jay (the lead). And the casting director couldn’t really wrap his head around what we were talking about. Then he called us back… Frank’s own manager couldn’t understand what we wanted. It was really strange. You have the filmmakers saying they want this guy to read for the lead of the movie and his own manager is questioning why. Regardless, he came in and impressed us. We have this monologue in the movie that we pulled as one of the sides. It’s about vampires and werewolves (the character is obsessed with werewolves)… and there was not a single person that read it well. Honestly, I was questioning whether or not the script was garbage and my writing was shit – because it was laughable. When these people would read it I would cringe. Frank was the only one where we looked at each other after and said, ‘it finally works.’
But we still had his physique to overcome. And we also didn’t know anything about this guy. So we invited him to the studio/offices and had a long talk, asking him about what his life goals were and things like that. We were feeling him out to see how committed he was to acting, and specifically if we could trust him to be the lead in our movie. We knew he couldn’t get bigger in time, but he was committed to getting in the best shape possible for the film (I believe my mandate was Brad Pitt Fight Club shredded). It was a great experience and he was awesome to work with.
Was he required to do any training or research into his character before the shoot? Weapons training?
He lived on a diet of sugar free Red Bull and red meat for a few months. At one point I thought his heart was going to explode from all the caffeine.
Frank doesn’t come from this world and the language was very specific. So we spent a lot of time going through line-by-line and having me explain the intent of each word. The more he understood of what he was saying the better he was able to deliver it. It was a fun process. His character trains MMA, so we also spent some time boxing and a little bit of time on grappling. It was just enough so he looks like he knows what he is doing. More so it helped him get into the character mentally. He really didn’t want to do the grappling, but he was a trooper.
How similar to his character is he?
Frank is almost the exact opposite of Jay. He wasn’t someone who obsessively worked out, or cares about material things. He comes from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, not New York. He is into theatre and Shakespeare… and the character of Jay bullied those kids in high school. The movie takes place entirely from Jay’s perspective. There is not a single scene he isn’t in. When characters speak Spanish or Serbian, we don’t subtitle it because you shouldn’t understand what they’re saying – because Jay doesn’t. So, it was really fun to witness Frank act this out and do, in my opinion, an awesome job carrying the film.
Is there any character in the film based on yourself?
There’s a guy in the background at the strip club sipping a bear minding his own business. That’s me. Literally as well, it’s me as an extra.
Where can we find the film?
It is currently available for rent/purchase digitally; iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, Dish, DirecTV, OnDemand (Time Warner or Comcast)… If it sounds at all interesting, give us a shot!
**In case you would like the actual links: