A film industry veteran who recently started living in the Shuswap full time sees the area’s cinematic potential and wants to bring it to the silver screen.
Dan Rizzuto has worked in many movie business roles, from bodyguard to the stars to stuntman and fight co-ordinator. Most recently, he was in the director’s chair for the production of Torn, a thriller which tackles racial tensions. Rizzuto co-wrote the film with Joshua Mazerolle, who has also done extensive work as a stuntman.
Rizzuto’s career has seen him share film sets with movie stars like Nicolas Cage and renowned martial artists Tony Jaa, Iko Awais, Jean-Claude van Damme and many more.
As he works to get Torn distributed, possibly through a streaming service such as Netflix, Rizzuto is developing a film which he hopes will be able to take advantage of the scenery in the place he now calls home. He is working on the project with Todd Scott, another stuntman who is originally from the Salmon Arm area.
He described the fledgling project as a story set in the outdoors and based on a local Shuswap legend he has heard since moving to the area.
— dan rizzuto (@danrizzuto) May 20, 2019
Rizzuto said because the plan is to write the forthcoming film with the Shuswap in mind as a location, last minute adjustments to make story conform to the realities of the location it will be shot in won’t be necessary.
“We’re writing for the environment, so our story is based on what we have access to, what’s around and what’s the most beautiful. We’re going to write to that so we don’t have to change it and can take advantage of what’s here,” he said.
Both Torn and Rizzuto’s future projects are being developed through Cerebral Monkey Entertainment, a company he started four years ago.
“It was founded by a stuntman, it’s being run by a stuntman, right now it’s being funded by a stuntman and it’s all Canadian. Everybody involved right now is Canadian which is something we want to focus really heavily on.”
Although many of the key players in the production company have made their living performing the stunts that bring adrenaline-soaked action movies to life, Rizzuto said Torn defied some people’s expectations by delivering a story dealing in thought-provoking subject matter— he wants future projects to do the same.
“Authentic stories are what I want to do, I think that’s kind of lost in the world today.”
Rizzuto said technology, such as drones and less expensive cinema cameras, has made it easier for smaller-budget filmmakers to achieve results worthy of the silver screen. It has also helped with getting films distributed. He said it’s much easier to get an independent film onto Netflix than it is to get it distributed to a studio.
Rizutto is unsatisfied with the present order of things, where the film industry in Vancouver and the rest of the province largely serves American productions. He said his wants to showcase the B.C. Interior and get more Canadian stories told on film.