“Sopranos” actor shows his directing chops in “The Brooklyn Banker”

A former “Sopranos” actor is focusing on Brooklyn in his latest effort, his first full-length feature as a director.

Federico Castelluccio, who is best known for his work as an actor, is primed to release “The Brooklyn Banker,” a movie he directed.

The film, based on a short, “Lily of the Feast,” takes place in Williamsburg during the 1970s and is about a neighborhood banker who has the gift of memorizing numbers and sidesteps a career saturated in underworld crime that most of his childhood friends chose.

The main character, Santo Bastucci, played by Troy Garity, is caught between the loyalty he has for his father-in-law, the safety of his wife and family, and heeding the cautionary advice of his streetwise uncle, the pastor of their local church and resident backbone of the neighborhood.

“It’s a story of choices,” said Castelluccio, who played Furio Giunta in “The Sopranos.” “In life, you have family and loyalty. It’s about the choices you make in life.”

Castelluccio has directed around six short films. He made his debut in 2007, with the short, “Tracks of Color.” “For the most part, I never intended to be director,” he said, adding that his first love was painting. “The idea came in 2006. I got this idea for a story, and directed and wrote it.”

The catalyst for Castelluccio’s latest film began in an unconventional way. In 2010, he met attorney Michael Ricigliano, Jr. through a mutual friend. “I met with him and he said that he had a script. It was strange but I was in for a surprise. I was pleased that the script was so good. I decided to film a short film version of it to get the public interested. We quickly received a lot of recognition.

“When I read a script, it either moves me or it doesn’t,” Castelluccio went on. “This story revolves around wonderful characters. It’s a very character-driven film. When a story gives me these images, it makes me excited. It was visceral.”

While Castelluccio directed and wrote his previous projects, this one required a collaboration with Ricigliano Jr., a welcome addition for both parties. “We worked closely and it was nice,” he said. “Michael doesn’t have a huge ego. We were open to critiquing each other so no one took it personally. We just wanted what was best for the movie.”

After winning awards at the Williamsburg Brooklyn Festival and Long Island International Festival in 2011, the two were ready to gear up for a feature-length film and sought out top-notch talent. “We had wonderful New York actors that did a phenomenal job,” he said. “They are loyal to the people that did the short film. Most, if not all, play some role in this film”

One of those actors is Paul Sorvino, who according to Castelluccio, does a great job. “This is Paul’s best work he’s done since ‘Goodfellas.’ He’s brilliant in this,” Castelluccio said.

The director also sung the praises of the lead, Garity. “He’s an incredible actor. He’s got a wonderful subtext and it comes across so well on screen,” he said. “He picks up on everything. I can’t say enough good things about him as an actor. He’s on ‘Ballers’ on HBO and you’ll be hearing a lot about him.”

Castelluccio received much of his directing wisdom from his work as an actor. “I had the greatest time not only acting on ‘The Sopranos,’ but observing all the directors,” he said. “They had specific niches, styles and differences in directing that I always noticed.”

The cast and crew of “The Brooklyn Banker” are now eagerly waiting for audiences from Brooklyn and worldwide finally to see the finished product.

“The film is really about moral choices in life and how these choices change you for good or bad. I hope they come out of it with a good feeling,” Castelluccio said.

“The Brooklyn Banker,” released by TriCoast Entertainment, will debut on Friday, August 5 in select theaters and Video On Demand. For more information, visit www.brooklynbanker.com.

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