Written by Elizabeth Lanza Friday, 30 July 2010 00:00
Julie Tortorici, a Glen Cove native, celebrated the Long Island premiere of her new film at the Long Island International Film Expo on July 14. Julie wrote and directed Milestone, making it her first film as director. This short film has been accepted to film festivals worldwide, including the New York Downtown Short Film Festival and Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.
Milestone is a short comedy about what happens when tubs of ice cream and sad movies don’t get you past your heartbreak - a plot that many people can relate to. In the film, the friends of the heartbroken woman try to help with her break-up. Julie said that she likes to write from her own experience, sharing, “I think its true, write what you know. I take my experiences and twist them around non-fiction to fiction if you will.” Inspiration for Milestone, therefore came from the support she gets from those around her, as she stated, “I have a great group of friends around me, my family is amazing.”
Directing is just one of Julie’s many talents. She is an actor, writer and producer at On the Leesh Productions, a New York City company that creates film, theater and Web series. Alica Arinella, CEO and president of On the Leesh Productions has been a mentor as well as great friend for Julie, saying, “I can’t say enough great things about her.”
One of Julie’s most recent projects, in which she served as producer as well as writer was What can You do 365. Created by Jessica Arinella, this series offers people ideas to combat major world issues such as global warming, domestic violence and hunger even if they only can give one minute of time. Julie, is a co- head writer, which gives her the ability to really “sink her teeth into a series that is both online and premiered on television” as it was shown on PBS affiliate WLIW. “It’s been really fun…I like to say we’re starting a one minute movement” said Julie.
Another major project in her life right now is her feature film, For Belly, which is currently in post-production. For Belly is based on her one woman show that she created right after college and now has been adapted into her first feature film. She produced, wrote and starred in this emotional drama that focuses on a woman suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Adapting a one-woman show into a screen play was another sort of adventure for me,” said Julie. Alicia Arinella and Matthew Rashid directed this film. It is a cast of three, with Jessica Arinella, Mary Micari and of course, Julie herself. Julie hopes that it will be finished by late summer!
Among the many projects that Julie has done, she also found time for a volunteer vacation in Ghana, with an organization called Globe Aware. “I wanted to go away, and I knew I’d be going by myself. I always wanted to go to Africa,” she said. This organization gave busy people the opportunity to volunteer in a country for about a week. The thought of bringing a camera ran through Julie’s mind before she went, and of course she brought one, saying, “I went from going on a vacation to all of a sudden doing a documentary.” This documentary that began in Ghana suddenly was the beginning of her project, Best Laid Plans, a film that questions what a person does when their life plan throws a curve ball at them.
Julie is currently in the midst of writing a novel called The Break Up. When asked how writing a novel compares to doing a film script she explained how different it was. “A movie is all about dialogue where a novel, you’re really painting the picture.” Julie’s father is a writer, primarily a novelist, and has been a great guide for her throughout this new project. The novel is not finished yet but she hopes that it will be published in the near feature. “It’s been very different but really fun,” said Julie about her writing experience.
Julie has had a great experience growing up in Glen Cove, saying, “It’s a rich place in a number of ways.” As a student at Glen Cove High School, in the class of 1993, she participated in the school’s Masquers drama program. Dale Zurbrick, Julie’s choir teacher and Sally Zweibach, an English and acting teacher, both had a tremendous impact on Julie during her years at GCHS. She said both were extremely supportive and were terrific influences on her in the pursuit of her passions.
She attended Rutgers University, where she studied film and majored in political science. “The wonderful thing about the arts is that if you’re interested in something, you’re finding your own creative process, you really can kind of learn as you go,” said Julie. “I think in studying any kind of craft, there are things you need to learn. I think that those things you can learn in the field.” When speaking about her experience with a camera, she said that at first, she did not use the camera herself, however “Alicia has taught me the camera, now I’m comfortable with it,” proving what she was able to learn without studying in school.
Julie said that she is blessed because of the great support she receives from her family. Her parents have always been there for her, believing in her every step. She also finds comfort from her older sister, also a writer, who lives with her family in Oakland.
“I’m a movie lover,” said Julie. “I think if you’re interested in any kind of artistic medium, there is a way you can do it, even if it means it’s not your full-time job. I think it’s a wonderful outlet.”
Julie has many high hopes for her future: “I hope to reach whatever the next place for me to reach is. All of these projects are in different states, I’m just excited for them to come out into the world.”