Redefining Filmmaking: Actor/Filmmaker Kevin Interdonato’s Blueprint for Filmmaking Success

Photo Courtesy: Kevin Interdonato
Photo Courtesy: Kevin Interdonato

By: Peter Candia

So often these days, we see big films hit the screen that ultimately fizzle out. Lackluster writing, unoriginality, misdirection, greed—you name it. There are indeed some things in film you simply can’t teach. 

Kevin Interdonato, a New Jersey-based actor/ filmmaker, noticed this early in his career. Years of giving up control of what he wanted to do to get by in the business. This is an inherent truth of the industry: you have to make sacrifices. However, it’s not an end-all. It doesn’t have to define you. For Interdonato, it sparked a drive that sent him on a creative journey with more significant intentions. Today, he writes, acts, produces and directs precisely how he sees fit. 

The Early Years 

While many in the film business grew up in and around it, Kevin Interdonato grew up around construction, working for his family’s business. He had no idea that acting was an outlet he’d be a natural at. “I went to college, and nothing was clicking, so I took an acting class on a whim, and that was it,” he tells me. “My path was set with one class.” This natural fit became transparent to Interdonato, who was steadily booking roles like The Sopranos, Law & Order, and independent films in a very short time. 

In 2004, his career would abruptly end. Interdonato joined the Army National Guard immediately after finishing high school and was called upon for an intense tour of duty in Baghdad, Iraq, at the height of the Iraq War. 

When he returned from Iraq, finding himself and his way again was slow. After a year, it was the art that drew him. Interdonato slowly returned to the business, back to community theater and student films, and again, working his way up the ladder. “It was never about the glitz or glamor with me. It was always about moving people and being able to do that with my work. I never lost the love for it.” 

After that, his memorable work in independent film earned Kevin over 20 Best Actor awards and accolades at film festivals worldwide. His latest TV appearance would come in 2019 when he booked the memorable role of Tony Suferin in the Showtime series City on a Hill, where he would appear as a steady cast member for 11 episodes. 

Over the years, though Interdonato enjoyed consistent bookings, he found himself unfulfilled and unsatisfied. “As my career progressed, I was growing increasingly frustrated with the quality of films,” he told me. “It wasn’t that I wanted to get bigger. I wanted to keep getting better, and I felt the quality of what I was booking wasn’t allowing me to.”

The Kevin Interdonato Model 

Rather than remain complacent, Interdonato sat down and began planning to regain control of his path. He started writing screenplays—which he discovered came naturally—and creating a production business model. 

“I wanted to get into producing because it would give me control over the outcome and directing, so I had the fulfillment of creating and telling the story,” says Interdonato. “Then, I only have myself to blame if it doesn’t go well.” Seeing the rise of streaming platforms placing independent filmmakers, allowing them to appear side-by-side with studio films, he saw a window of opportunity. “A good movie is a good movie, regardless of the budget or whether it was financed independently or by a Studio. I felt like I had a shot and the ability to throw my hat in to let my work speak for itself. I made absolutely sure I was creatively aligned and ready for business.” 

The model he created revolves around what he calls a “smart budget,” citing his experience based on lessons he learned from his father in the family Construction business. He tells me that in the film industry, time and time again, he’s witnessed budgets get eaten up by extraneous, unneeded spending, front-loading key players and sluggish pacing. He approaches his films from a different angle. “When I make a movie, I bet on myself. That means having the end in mind before I begin designing the film to succeed financially. A fraction of the normal spend for the same outcome equates to a much more profitable film. A Producer is essentially a business owner. I take that venture and anyone’s investment much more seriously than most in this industry.” 

“It’s a business of dreamers. As an actor, my career has been victim to those dreamers handling the responsibility of movies, and I’ve given my all. It sickened me. The smart builder wouldn’t build a house for spec to sell if he didn’t know what they were selling for in the area, right? I saw no reason to deviate from that concept of creating my own movies, so I made sure to cultivate the right relationships with people who sell movies because I knew I’d be in that same position. Now I’m here, now I know.” 

By holding himself accountable and surrounding himself with a cast and crew that supports the creative vision, he has been able to make profitable films. He tells me that though many view film as a bad investment, it’s the opposite—the lousy investment is who you have made the movie.

His directorial debut came in 2024 with The Bastard Sons, which Interdonato wrote, produced, directed, and starred in alongside UFC Legend Frankie Edgar, Chicago Med’s Malik Whitfield, The Sopranos alum Al Sapienza, and others. The film follows an Asbury Park-based organized crime crew. The low-lying mobsters, led by Vincent Damiano (Interdonato), are sent on a vengeance-filled journey after their boss is killed by what they assume to be an inside job. 

The film explores themes of revenge, regret, and deceit but also avoids the familiar tropes displayed in mafia movies. And just like that, Interdonato’s debut as a Director was a hit. With movie reviewers throwing comparisons to Scorcese’s early work, The Sopranos, and being cited as “The gangster movie Jersey has been waiting for,” The Bastard Sons was released theatrically by one of Hollywood’s leading distributors (Vertical Entertainment) and continues to popularize the VOD platforms. 

In 2023, Interdonato also produced, co-wrote and starred in the horror/thriller Malicious, directed by John Fallon. In the film, Interdonato plays a mysterious man named Jesse, who comes in contact with the McCabe family on their weekend getaway in a secluded cabin. A story of torment follows, outlined by a unique concept that avoids the typical storyline. The results? 

Another home run. I researched to see Interdonato again receive several Best Actor awards. But when asked, he only mentioned Malicious being a profitable film before its release date and achieving a placement in the competitive ‘Most Popular Horror ‘ list on the VOD Platform TUBI for eight weeks straight. 

Both movie budgets were under $100,000. The business model works, and so do the movies. 

Making Profitable Art for the Passion

2023 marked a return to the type of art that Interdonato feels satisfied making. It’s work he is proud of, and the proof is in the results. His career is checkered with accolades, but the accolades mean nothing when the results are something you don’t feel proud of. By regaining control of his career through writing and directing, Interdonato has guaranteed that every time he appears on screen, it’s for the passion of it. 

He tells me that making art he loves assures profitable ventures. Whether it be co-writing a thriller or taking complete control of a mob movie that shatters norms, Interdonato finds himself in a position to be proud of, but the work never stops. “I truly love what I do,” he says. “That’s the catalyst to make sure I keep delivering.” 

His healthy obsession continues with his upcoming directorial effort Dirty Hands, a crime/action/thriller to be filmed in Chicago this October. When asked about it, Interdonato describes his excitement by saying, “Bigger budget for bigger actors…same business model, better returns…and this one will be hard to forget.”

Keep an eye out because he’s just getting started. Interdonato’s next movie, the Crime/Drama ‘Saint Michael of the City,’ was released on April 5th on Amazon. 

Published by: Nelly Chavez


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