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Feature Stories

Local Had Rough Start in Filmwork

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 14
7/12/2013


By Steve Propes

It all started in a Subway in Phoenix. Subway Sandwiches, that is. The first acting role Shaun Gerardo got paid for was in a Subway commercial as a very young man.

From that rather modest commercial success, Gerardo has parlayed his acting prowess into a half dozen films, mostly in the horror genre. “I’ve had a lot of struggles, for sure,” said 28-year-old Gerardo. “Adversity, definitely, in any business, you have to overcome. My dad wasn’t around and my mom was constantly working. I grew up in Phoenix” and attended Arcadia High School. “Steven Spielberg went there before he grew up in San Jose.

“Until I was nine, I lived with my grandfather, Vito Gerardo, who was in the mob in Chicago. He would hint at it. We would be watching “Casino,” the Joe Pesci character, who played Nicky Santoro. They used to call him Tony the Ant, it was brutal the way Pesci would portray him, my uncle would say ‘he was my best friend.’

“One of my high school friends kept some rented videos he should have returned. My grandfather would drive around in a Cadillac, he saw my buddy walking home, he made him get in the car, told him, ‘my grandson tells me you got my movies.’ Scared him to return the videos. He really was the real deal.”

In high school, “I was really short, so I was picked on at school. I became isolated, had to break out of that shell. In my junior year, when I did my first play, everything changed. From being picked on, Gerardo heard comments like “wow, you’re a funny guy.”

Gerardo, who now lives in the Belmont Heights area in Long Beach attributes some of his ability to his background. “It came from my dad, who wasn’t always around, trying to express myself when acting was involved; I was a natural, so I just went with it. I came from a tough place, so working with the charity with my uncle was rewarding.”

His uncle is Sonny Bozeman, a well-known local access TV personality and former candidate for city council. Gerardo lives with Bozeman, who has run a non-profit named Out Flow for 15 years. “It helps those in need of food, toys, clothing, turkeys at Thanksgiving. We take calls daily to fill those needs.” Gerardo is now vice president of Out Flow.

His first feature was as “a murder suspect in ‘The Eleventh Aggression,’” a horror film in 2009. “It was easy work. I had about two or three scenes as the ultimate dirt bag suspect.”

Gerardo admits playing such a character “can be difficult, it’s a mental challenge. You have to be happy in your personal life to be a good actor. Al Pacino once said, if he didn’t have a girlfriend, he couldn’t do that kind of part.”

Then came “Survival of the Fittest” in 2010. “I was producer on that, I auditioned for the project, the other producer really liked me, so we ended up working together. It made a little bit of money. We can shoot a film for $20,000, find an actor, for me, it was Bill Oberst Jr., he’s done over 200 films and is a good friend of mine.

“Out here, actors are everywhere you look, filmmakers and artists are a rarer breed. Acting is easy, go in, get your paycheck, go home. Filmmakers are more of a knowledge-driven kind of people. As a producer and writer, you have to have a broad background on various subjects.”

Oberst and Gerardo were also in a new film, “Clock Out.” “My partner funds my films. I had a little bit more money. It’s the story of Toby, who suffers from the AIDs virus, has a drug problem and being a little naïve ends up getting talked into a drug heist with his best friend, who claimed it would help him make money to pay for his medication. In the end, he makes a character change.”

Another film, “‘Criminal’ is in editing; it’s a cross between ‘Dexter’ and ‘The Crow.’ The lead character Marcus Taylor has a dark past. His mom was killed by his dad; he’s a beat cop by day, at night he wages war on all criminals.”

“I’m working on two scripts, ‘Born Enemies,’ about two characters with dark pasts who come together and ‘The Affinity,’ slated to come out in 2014.

“Movies are a purely left brain, logical business; trying to charm people is key to it, magic to Hollywood, if you embrace challenges, intertwined with several people, you can meet people who can change your own life. If you can charm people, you can change people.

“I like to make things with twists at the end that play on your imagination, like psycho thrillers, if I’m writing it, I like to produce great content.”

steve@longbeachcomber.com