by Naomi Laeuchli
Ben Fraternale, a senior at the University of Maryland, discusses his short film ‘Socks & Robbers, the filming and casting process, as well as his film company Fraternale Films.
Can you tell me a little about Socks & Robbers and what inspired it?
Socks & Robbers is a tale of three seemingly unconnected stories that coalesce in a house robbery. Partially out of sequence, the film is partly inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear style of storytelling. We wanted to tell a highly intertwined and twisting story, even if small details weren’t caught on first viewing. The film pulls you through the first three vignettes, not providing a connection between them, and then cascades towards its climax and twists them all together.
How did you cast the film?
We had a fantastic cast of local New York actors in Socks & Robbers. Jack Rovello, who plays the character Chester, was in the Oscar nominated film The Hours and played a re-occuring role in the show One Life to Live. I’d known Jack for years and was really excited to highlight him. He was a child actor who had been out of work for quite some time, so featuring him and his talents in Socks & Robbers was great to see. Our female cast member, Molly Gallagher, is in a series of viral videos which have millions of views. She attends the NYU Tisch school for performing arts, as does Kamran Saliani who played our character Russell. My best friend, Tom Selenow, played Bugs. His experience with school theater made him a solid choice for one of our four characters. All four went to Irvington High School and had varying acting experience, but meshed extremely well as our cast.
What was the most challenging part of filming?
One of the most challenging aspects of the film was presenting an out of sequence scene and having our audience follow along. Going non-linear was a great way to introduce the viewer to the character, Chester, in a frantic situation. It’s confusing at first, but hopefully rewarding when the viewer reconnects with the scene later in the film.
You’ve created a film company called Fraternale Films. What is the vision for the company and what kind of films does it make?
My vision for Fraternale Films is to bring feature-length quality into short films which take the viewer through the minds of unique characters in strange situations. I’m a big fan of anti-heroes, characters that contradict traditional values or passions, and love exploring their everyday lives. I am also planning to delve into science fiction with my next film, a genre which is a huge passion of mine. I also see Fraternale Films as a Swiss Army knife. All of our graphic design is done in house, most of which is done by me or my girlfriend, Laura Pavlo. From short films to commercials airing on Nickelodeon, I see no limits to what we can accomplish.
Where do you hope your career will go after college?
During or before my final semester in May, I hope to secure a job in the film industry. Once I do, I’ll be moving out to Los Angeles with Laura. I love New York dearly, but I know Los Angeles is where I have to be.
Resources: Fraternale Films