S t e p h e n M a r r o does it all. He writes his own films, then directs them, then produces them. The Long Beach, New York native is a man of many undeniable talents. Talents that this era of filmmaking needs more of these days. Marro has fresh, original storytelling ideas. An eye for the right vibe and location of a scene, and a realistic, hard working approach to creating and completing a film independently. You will not see more energy or belief behind a project, as you will see with Stephen Marro. He is a filmmaker with an endless fire to achieve and succeed. When this guy sets his sights on something, he gets it done.
Sounds just like those feisty, go-getting characters from his film, Broadway's Finest.
B r o a d w a y 's F i n e s t is Stephen Marro's feature-length directorial debut, a gritty action comedy about three struggling actors (one, a recovering addict) who impersonate New York City under cover cops to chase down a notorious drug dealer in order to create their own cutting edge police drama. How's that for original?
The film was released in 2012 to select theatres and generated glowing reviews. It was the winner of twelve film festival awards, including Best Feature Film and the Audience Award. The film then it made it's way, successfully, onto the streaming market of Amazon, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play, and since, it just keeps going and growing. Marro once referred to the movie as 'The little film that could' - and he was right.
Talking with Marro recently about his work was a true learning experience. He's a polite and friendly guy who is always motivated. He worked hard to bring his full vision to life on the big screen. "It’s the joyful satisfaction in having a dream realized. Making an independent film is an arduous task, any filmmaker that accomplishes it should be very proud of their achievement," Marro said.
For any independent filmmaker, the road to achievement isn't always an easy one. The screenplay for Broadway's Finest was floating around for quite a while before being developed into a feature film. Marro had even made a short film 'Arrested Development' in 2003, based on the future film. "The feature screenplay was written before the teaser short, which is an amalgamation of several scenes from the screenplay," he said. If you watch Arrested Development, you can appreciate the raw concept in it's original form, but you can also see how much heart and soul was later poured into the feature length film, that makes it the fine piece of art in motion, as it stands today.
As for that 'raw and original concept', you know, the one about 'theatre actors living the life of cops'? One has to wonder where a gem of a story idea like that comes from. Marro was cool enough to explain. "When I was a member of the Actor’s Studio, I witness the intense preparation some actors would undertake to prepare for a role. Additionally, I was following newspaper articles about drug addicts dying from fentanyl (synthetic heroin.) Time, place and circumstance provided the inspiration."
C a s t i n g a film like Broadway's Finest must have been a exceptional undertaking, considering it's wide variety of character personalities, but the team hit the mark each time. John Lavelle (The Taking of Pelham 123, NCIS) is superbly cast as the sensible and lovable Goldstone, Nick Cornish (Gossip Girl, Confessions of a Shopaholic) is wildly hilarious as Willy, the boyishly handsome fire fighter turned male stripper, and topping the list, is accomplished actor Adam Storke (The Stand, Mystic Pizza, Death Becomes Her) who plays the role of Lewis, a recovering drug addict with a good heart and big dreams. Storke brings such a biting intensity to the film that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. He slips into the character with ease, making each scene completely believable, almost as if you were spying on a few stolen moments in someone's actual life. Storke is, hands down, the shining star of this film.
Broadway's Finest cast - (From left:) Nick Cornish, Adam Storke, John Lavelle
"After Adam's audition, the casting director, producer and I knowingly looked at each other, he defined the role," Marro explained, "His terrific performance exceeded what I envisioned when I wrote the character."
Marro's creative writing and directing fuses perfectly with Storke's candid acting style. The two make a fantastic team. When asked if he could see himself working with Adam again sometime in the future, Marro gave us high hopes. "Yes, I certainly hope so."
S t e p h e n M a r r o
has been a filmmaker since as far back as he can remember. When he was a kid he was always making films. Even when he worked as a lifeguard in Long Beach, where he grew up, he would make films for the lifeguards he worked with. Marro found directorial inspiration from some of life's greatest talents such as Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and Howard Hawk. As a screenwriter, his ideas come from all around him. "Newspaper articles, personal experiences, stories I’m told, staring out at the ocean and thinking 'what if '," Marro described.
Marro is a no-nonsense, hardworking filmmaker who has started from the ground up. He has the stamina to stay in the game, no matter which way the wind blows. We asked if he had any advice for new filmmakers looking to get into the business. Marro gave us his two cents. "Spiritual - Don't get discouraged by failure. Practical - Invest in real estate."
The kid knows his stuff.
Photos of Stephen Marro by Gerry Weinman
While concluding our chat, we were very interested to know what was in-store for Marro's up and coming future. He was only happy to share with us the exciting projects he was going to be working on next. "A dramatic mini series about the NCAA, and a coming of age film about a young man with a bright future who falls in love with a young woman with a dark one." Sounds promising and certainly very interesting!
After this interview, we have come to one conclusion - and that's to be sure to stick around this Marro guy, because we have a feeling that, in this case, lightning is going to strike more than once!
-by M & J Shepherd (2017)