The PRINCE OF JERSEY represents my effort to capture something of
the area where I grew up: South Jersey, a stretch of flat, suburban
land that sits across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. In many
respects, it is just another place in America. It holds no particular
allure, and in many ways is rather ugly. But it is still home, the
place where I was raised, and its atmosphere and its denizens are
what I know best...
Going through film school at USC, I knew that I had to shoot my
thesis back there. So in the summer of 2003, having fulfilled all
my other requirements, I left Los Angeles, went back East, and assembled
a local cast and crew. We pieced the film together in discontinuous
bits and pieces over the course of a month in the fall of 2003.
I was blessed to work with wonderful, giving actors. Locations were
the houses, bars, and apartments of old friends. We shot with an
old 16mm camera, and all of the grip and electric equipment fit
in a van. No bells and whistles, no pyrotechnics. One of the advantages
of making a little character-driven movie is that you don't need
all the fancy toys. You can shoot a story with a minimal budget
without having the product feel like its missing something or would
have been better if you had a crane and special effects...
One of the things the film concerns itself with is the subject of
football gambling. Several of my friends growing up were involved.
One of them got in trouble. I had always found it a fascinating
world, with its own special lingo, its own rules, its own set of
unique thrills. The thing about it is, everything is verbal contract.
It's not like slots or blackjack or the racetrack where you put
your money in and when you lose it's gone. People can bet the money
without having it, so it's extremely dangerous because before they
know it, people owe huge sums of money...
From my standpoint, this is a movie about very ordinary people who,
when thrown into a crucible, perform extraordinary actions, with
all the attendant heroism. These are heavy-drinking, foul-mouthed,
rough characters leading a hard existence without much hope. But
as events unfold, I hope people will see the inherent beauty and
nobility of their actions...
If nothing else, I hope the PRINCE OF JERSEY presents an engaging
portrait of the little slice of the world that I called home for
many years, an exciting foray into the not-much-publicized arena
of football gambling, and above all, a story with flesh-and-blood
characters and performances that come from a place of genuine emotion
and authentic experience.