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Faces of the Festival:<br>Julio DePietro

The guy behind The Good Guy proves that taking a job just to pay off your student loans can sometimes lead you in the right direction.

Even after 10 years working at a Chicago investment firm, Julio DePietro knew he wasn’t going to end up in hedge funds forever. Instead, the 37-year-old Harvard grad parlayed his experiences dealing with the slick-suited New York finance guys into his first feature screenplay, The Good Guy, a sophisticated love-triangle story set in the image-conscious world of Wall Street. And, not one to “go banging on producers’ doors,” DePietro enrolled in a 12-week film program at NYU to learn how to direct the story himself. Now he’s premiering his film at Tribeca, and more eyes than ever are on Wall Street.

What makes The Good Guy a Tribeca Must-See?

First of all, The Good Guy is very much a New York story. Everyone who lives here or has spent any time in New York will immediately recognize a lot of the locations and characters in the movie. Plus it takes a hard look at both the culture of Wall Street and the dating world here, which I think is very relevant to a lot of people in the city.

What’s the craziest thing that happened while making the film?

One day we lost permission to shoot at a big location—the Staten Island Ferry construction site—about three hours before we were supposed to start filming there. It was pretty soon after the big crane disaster last summer, and I think our insurance fell through last minute. Losing half a day of shooting doesn't sound bad, but getting all the actors back and coordinating the whole shoot again would have been messy. Fortunately, we found another site just a few blocks away, and we got to go in there and build our whole set and shot the scene out on time. That was the only real drama on what was otherwise an unusually smooth shoot.

What are your hopes/fears/wishes regarding Tribeca?

Honestly, I just hope people like it. Everything else will take care of itself if they do.

If you could have dinner with any filmmaker (alive or dead), who would you want it to be?

Fellini, in the company of all the Vitelloni.

What piece of art (film/book/music/what-have-you) do you recommend to your friends?

Depending on the friend, one or all of these books: Siddhartha, Beloved, Disgrace, or Thus Spoke Zarathustra. They generally stop asking for recommendations after that.

How did you end up in the world of high finance?

I had never even taken intro economics at Harvard. A friend I used to play poker with got a job at a 20-person start-up hedge fund in Chicago, and he recommended me. Coming out of college I had big student loans to pay off. As someone who studied political philosophy, there was no way I was going to get any kind of job on Wall Street, but I think anyone there who knew me knew this wasn’t something I was going to do forever.

Did you always know you’d end up as a filmmaker?

I always admired great writers more than anyone in the world. That’s always what I aspired to. But I didn’t want to sit down and try to bang out a novel in a log cabin—I’d have gone crazy. A screenplay is a little easier, but the writer just gets completely ignored once they make the script. The only way I could get around that was to learn how to direct it as well. It took me a few years of working from the lowest level up.

You started working on The Good Guy before the, uhm, economic downturn. Do you think with the current state of the economy that the typical 'Wall Street guys' are going to go extinct?

As dramatic as the overhaul in the banking system is right now, I don’t think the Wall Street guy is going to disappear. Those guys will be less prominent and less dominant on the social scene, but I don’t think this is the death of the Wall Street douchebag. I think they’ll find a way to survive through this.

Meet Julio DePietro at the FREE Community Kickoff Party at Tribeca's Barnes & Noble on Monday, April 20, when he appears on a panel, "New York as Muse," along with fellow TFF '09 directors Michael Sladek (Con Artist), Gloria La Morte (Entre nos), and Josh Zeman (Cropsey).

The Good Guy premieres on Sunday, April 26, at 6:00 pm, with two other screenings to follow.

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