Fresh off his wins for Best Actor, Best Screenplay & Best First Time Director at the Oniros Film Awards in New York City, director Gerard Garilli dropped by to talk about his film Dress Code.
Reviews & Dunn - What was the inspiration behind your film Dress Code?
Gerard Garilli - I always wanted to make a mob-driven film set in New Jersey, as that is where I’m from. I grew up loving movies such as GoodFellas, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Donnie Brasco and The Godfather. However, I didn’t want it to resemble a typical macho-driven basic mob film. We tried to make this a character piece & I think we accomplished that. On the performance aspect, I took influence from Tom Wilkinson’s character in the movie Normal. In that film, we have a man trapped, stuck & depressed because he can’t be who he wants to be. In Dress Code, I tried to tie that into my performance playing Bobby Russo.
Reviews & Dunn - When did you realize you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Gerard Garilli - I never really considered myself a filmmaker. I am a movie lover & somebody who has always wanted to make films from a very early age. My father took me to see Good Will Hunting when I was 11 years old & when the movie ended, the whole theater applauded. I was like, I want that feeling for something I make too! I’ve been acting for over ten years. I’ve been on hundreds of auditions, studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York & did improvisational shows with classmates. I figured instead of waiting for the perfect role, why not go & create the perfect role with my friends & fellow creative collaborators? Dress Code is my third feature film & the one I’m most proud of thus far.
Reviews & Dunn - How many drafts of the script did you write?
Gerard Garilli - Peter Panagos wrote the script. We met at a film festival in 2013. He also played my agent in my second film Hard Laughter which is on prime video. In 2020 during the height of the pandemic, I had this idea for a story about a guy who was born into a life of organized crime & as he’s on the rise, he suffers from boyhood to manhood because he wants to wear women’s clothes & portray himself as a woman. Pete loved the idea, ran with it & had a first draft in a few weeks. I think Pete did five rewrites during that time & had a finished script in the summer of 2020. Our story was a slippery slope because it could have come off as a comedy, but we made it into this thought-provoking, intense character piece that I’m super proud of.
Reviews & Dunn - If you had an unlimited budget, is there any franchise you would love to take on?
Gerard Garilli - That’s an interesting question. I’m not a franchise type of movie lover, as I feel most great & cult-driven films begin & end within their time limit. There’s so much, such as Forrest Gump Part 2 or Taxi Driver Part 2, because its power lies in the original. I would love to remake Saturday Night Fever into this cool character piece about nightlife, dance & music. I think that would be cool. Having an ending to a story is super important. Some franchise films never end. They keep going & going. The first two Home Alone movies are legendary. I would love to see a sequel 25 years later. Maybe Kevin is like this high-end lawyer & his law firm did layoffs & his family left him because they were having financial troubles. As Kevin is going on job interviews trying to get his life back together & win his family back, Harry & Marv are custodians at a law firm he interviewed at, find his resume & do everything in their power to make his life even worse.
Reviews & Dunn - Where can fans find you on social media, and is there anything you want to add?
Gerard Garilli - You can find me on Instagram @gfresh630 and Dress Code on Instagram @dresscodemovie. We hope to have Dress Code on streaming this summer or early Fall. Last month we screened at the Philadelphia Film Festival. And this summer, we are heading to the Jersey Shore film festival in Asbury Park and the Newark International film festival.