When it comes to filmmaking, Michele Civetta puts his all into it.
In the case of his latest project, “The Gateway,” Civetta not only directed the feature film, but he also added a writing credit to his name.
“I like to think the film is a thinking piece,” he says. “It’s a genre piece, and it taps into the crossroads of humanity.”
“The Gateway,” stars Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Frank Grillo and Bruce Dern.
It follows Parker, played by Whigham, who is a down-on-his-luck social worker who finds himself over his head when he tries to protect his client, played by Munn, from her recently paroled husband.
Parker tries to save the family from the violent threat of the maniacal drug dealer and his crew. The film is available for rent and to buy on digital platforms.
Civetta says while Parker’s story is at the forefront, he also wanted to tie in some more subjects.
“As we get into the cartel story, there’s more about drug trafficking,” he says. “Then we have Bruce Dern’s backstory on how he’s a Vietnam veteran and looking for help. With the film noir genre, we’re able to touch on all these angles to the film and do them justice.”
The production shot for 34 days in St. Louis, before the pandemic.
He says that, during production, he had to keep a keen eye on how long scenes were taking.
“The cartel scene in the film took nearly three days to shoot,” he says. “Because of that, we tightened the story and made sure that we had enough material to pull from. Each day was important, and we needed to get a lot done.”
Civetta also didn’t have a huge budget for the independent film but was able to get an ensemble cast he’s proud of.
“It’s amazing when it all comes together,” he says. “The cast that we got was amazing. Shea had a lot to do with it, as he was the first signed on to the film. He got involved, and it raised the caliber and piqued the interest of other actors. Olivia brought a lot of her truths to her character, and the house of cards kept building.”
Civetta says Parker is a hero in the story.
“He’s been through trauma and is still trying to process it,” Civetta says. “His life has been full of obstacles, and he’s trying to be a good person. I think if there was a message to this film, it’s that you have to trust in the path.”