Emilio Mauro. The name might not sound familiar just yet, but I have a feeling you’ll be hearing it more often. With his film God Only Knows in post-production, a TV pilot he helped come up with being directed by Ben Affleck and a science fiction novel in the works, Mauro is looking to have quite the upcoming year.
Mauro wrote and produced God Only Knows, a film shot in Boston earlier this year which stars Harvey Keitel, Ben Barnes, Leighton Meester, Slaine, Kenny Wormald and a slew of other local Boston talent. It’s not the first script Emilio’s ever written, but others weren’t able to get passed a certain point of production so I asked him why it was important for him to be so heavily involved this time around. Emilio Mauro, “It was important for me to produce this film. I said to myself if I don’t make a movie this year I’m gonna quit. I helped raised money for The Kids Are Alright, Bernie, Salvation Boulevard, so I knew I could raise money. So I just produced my own movie. The funny thing is I didn’t use my name, I used a fake name. I didn’t want anyone to know it was me because I wanted people to like it for what it was. It’s still a professional film though. One of our producers has done Arbitrage, 21 Grams, A Single Man. My director (James Mottern) did Trucker. I think he’s amazing. James was on board to direct The Fallen at one point.”
On the film’s cast, “I specifically wrote it for Slaine. I call the character George, his real name is George. Harvey Keitel was an offer. We knew we needed one guy. We went after a bunch and we paid him. Everyone else worked for scale including Toby (Jones). Mike Yebba’s in it. Kenny Wormald is in it. Jay Giannone is in it. I knew them all. I wrote Yebba’s character for him too. Ben Barnes is gonna show people he can do more. It’s a grittier Ben Barnes. He plays a North End kid who’s a gangster.”
The script (which he co-wrote with Mike Yebba) for the still unmade The Fallen got some early buzz, but didn’t pan out as of yet. He thinks it’s the best work he’s done and still hopes it will get made. Talking about the initial reaction, “It’s not a failure because it’s so good and hopefully will make it some day. We had some immediate, superficial success. Right away we’re sitting in Penny Marshall’s living room. Yebba is really smart and rallied a lot of support and we got into the right places. Looking back on it, we were never really close. We were loving the experience and that helped us keep going. Mike’s always stayed busier than I have because he acts which is huge because being on a set is really fun. I don’t have that experience. My first set was my own movie (God Only Knows).”
The second project we should be seeing after God Only Knows is called The Middle Man. Fox picked up the rights to the TV show which will have Ben Affleck directing and TV vet Glenn Gordon Caron writing based off a spec script by Mauro and Yebba. Both will be co-executive producers on the show. With his name being affiliated with Affleck of late, Emilio’s been getting some recognition. He doesn’t necessarily get the buzz. “I’d like to talk about it, but really I can only say is Mike pitched it Chay (Carter) on the set of The Town in 2009. I met Chay, she loved it. She obviously works with Ben and whatever conversations they had about it they had. This February she asked if we wanted to do this again. Glenn Gordon Caron is a legend. I’m just gonna work my ass off and hopefully they like what I do. It’s the complete opposite of God Only Knows. That I had complete control so right now I’m scared and humbled and nervous. I’m just a spoke in the wheel. God Only Knows I cast it, helped edited it, I financed it, wrote it, picked the director. That’s totally different than working with Fox and Glenn. It’s overwhelming. I have no updates. I have no idea where it’s shooting, when it’s shooting. You have all these heavy hitters and all their schedules. It’s a great announcement, I’m ecstatic about it, but I have no control over it. It’s crazy, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s beyond my pay grade.”
With so many ups and downs over his young career I asked him if there was any point where he thought about walking away from writing. “No. I mean, what’s the goal? To be rich? I don’t think that’s the goal. There’s easier ways to get rich. Hopefully you have a bug to create stories either a story that’s already out there that you can take and make it your own or something you imagine on your own. I mean, I know what you’re saying, you’re just not "making it" at this point in my career, but I’m having a little string of luck here so hopefully (things change). Listen writers don’t get famous. Actors do. Aaron Sorkin could walk down the street and no one would bother him. You could be extremely well respected and famous among the community, obviously if Aaron Sorkin walks on a set people will say ‘That’s Aaron Sorkin’ but he could go get lunch at Stephanie’s right now and no one would bother him, maybe one or two people.”
One of the other projects he’s working on is a science fiction novel that he would like to make a series out of. On why he went the novel direction and not a script, “I just literally could not write this story as a screenplay. It’s writing, but they are two totally different ways to write. When you’re writing a screenplay you don’t intentionally write subtext, you create it. You don’t say ‘I’m writing subtext today.’ You get into it enough and by doing your job you create subtext. You need plot, character and story, but you really need subtext, something that makes an actor say ‘I have to play this guy’. Novels aren’t like that. There is no subtext. You just write, you explain, everything has to be on the page. Nothing has to do with subtext. That’s where I was failing on the script. It was so plot driven and had a lot of good characters and I felt that my themes were already laid out that I didn’t need to write subtext. I think screenplays are written to be performed and books are meant to be read. You don’t go to the store to buy screenplays. You don’t go to buy The Social Network, you go to buy Ben Mezrich’s book. I learned that lesson doing this, hopefully it gets published.”
Emilio is hoping God Only Knows will play a few festivals like Sundance or SXSW and pick up distribution there. It’s currently being repped by WME. He’s hoping a distribution deal will get the film out to a few theaters and VOD in April 2014. He doesn’t think the film will be a failure if it goes straight to VOD because of recent success stories with other smaller films like Drinking Buddies that did the VOD and limited release route. Having been shown a quick peek at the trailer, I think a lot of people will be surprised at Ben Barnes in God Only Knows. The British actor, best known for The Chronicles of Narnia films, really captures the look and feel of a North End gangster. I can’t wait to see the final film and I expect it to fit right in to the Boston crime drama genre.
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