Interview With Alfred Thomas Catalfo
Photo by Ralph Morang
Alfred Thomas Catalfo leads two intertwined lives — he’s a successful Dover personal injury attorney and he’s also an up-and-coming filmmaker. He says the skills needed for both are similar and he doesn’t feel the need to choose between the two. How much time does the double track take? “A lot,” he says, “but I find that exhilarating.”
Of late, his excitement is about his feature script “Betrayed,” which was recently named the Grand Prize Winner in the prestigious Rhode Island International Film Festival Screenplay Competition, and “Rocketship,” his latest short film (he’s written, produced and directed five shorts including the online hits “Bighorn” and “The Norman Rockwell Code”). Catalfo’s aim now is to move beyond “shorts” and produce a full-length feature film. He’s promoting his award-winning films and scripts at international film festivals and meeting with potential investors. And, he adds, “As an attorney, I plan to continue advocating for people who have been injured.”
You’re both a trial attorney and a filmmaker. Are the two related in any way? Absolutely. They are both dependent on your ability to tell a story and communicate truth. You’re asking an audience — or a jury — to go on a journey with you. You’re promising that you’ll be authentic, engaging and that their time will be well-spent.
Ever see yourself doing legal thrillers like other lawyers-turned-storytellers? Yes, I’ve been asked to do that a number of times and am working on one now. The funny thing is that I’ll probably have to tone down some of the real-life events I’ve experienced to make them more believable.
Why do you produce “shorts,” not full-length films? Shorts are essentially calling cards that allow you to demonstrate your writing, directing and producing skills on a limited budget. When potential investors look at a short film that has Hollywood-level production values, sharp storytelling, appeals to a wide audience and is attracting industry attention, they feel they can trust the production team with a feature.
Do you have plans for a full-length? Yes, that’s next. I like accessible stories with wide appeal and have written a dozen full-length feature scripts.
What’s the biggest challenge in doing that? The first is convincing investors that funding a feature film can be a lot more fun and potentially profitable than investing in, say, an apartment building. The second is having a concept so creative and intriguing that it’s not dependent on name actors in the lead roles, which adds significantly to the cost.
Who are your filmmaking heroes? Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick and Christopher Nolan for not being afraid to break the rules.
Where do you get your ideas? I look at situations and say ‘Yes, but then what if this happened ... ?” I also seem to have an ability to pick up on little-known, true stories and facts that are so amazing they play like fiction.
Do you dream of Hollywood? Not really. I lived in L.A. for some time and still have friends there. I’ve negotiated with high-powered studio executives while looking out my office window in Dover. Fortunately, the movie business has changed and films can be made anywhere.
You’ve said filmmaking “fills your soul.” With what? Creativity, camaraderie, authenticity and telling stories that capture an audience’s imagination.