Profiles and Interviews With Interesting New Yorkers

Frank Lisi: From Actor To Director He Does It All


By Nick Christophers

It is without question that the human spirit is one that can never be diminished especially when it set itself on a direct mission. This would be the case for actor / director Frank Lisi, who has never given up on what he loves to do. Frank a native of New Jersey and a tough Italian too boot was always enthralled with the magic of TV and film after watching Elvis Presley.  It became an obsession that would bear fruit later in life.

“As a seven year old I saw Elvis in a film for the first time and thought that’s what I want to be doing. That is when it became apparent to me that acting was for me.”

This obsession became a reality after grooming his daughter Nicole to be an actress that an opportunity arose. His daughter opted out of acting and Frank took up the reigns at the Lee Strasburg School of Acting. Basically he completed the classes she once started. He would learn and grow as an actor and director. Frank would also take classes at Carson & Kolker Agency for camera work and at Penny Templeton’s Studio to study filmmaking and acting. He did some back ground acting at first with some call backs.

His first gig was on the film project “Vanango Street” which was produced by his friends Sonny Vellozzi & Robert Bizik. The next was a short entitled “Sleeping With The Fishes” where he played the character Sonny. These were small stepping stones to what was soon to grow. 

“Once I step into a role my nervousness disappears. I always well prepared to take it on, of course unless I am on set with someone like Scorcese or Coppola.”

Franks first production and direction was on the project “Sicilian Tale” which starred the late Vinny Vella (Casino, Sopranos). According to Frank it was an honor to have worked with Vinny who brought his talent and humor on set every day. Vinny created a major inspiration for Frank and they would eventually develop a strong friendship till his passing day. That specific short won Best Crime Drama Short at the New York International Film & Video Festival in 2009.

In time Frank realized he had to develop a project that would be equal if not better than “Sicilian Tale”. He would break out with the film “The Red Corvette” which starred Valerie Bauer. In came out in 2011 and won an “Audience Award” at the New York City at The New York International Film Festival. Too sweeten the pie even more Valerie also won “Best Actress” in a Feature Film”. It was special moment for Frank who was proud of Valerie’s work.  The film is currently is streaming on Amazon.

“The support from the actors and audience was amazing. I mean there was standing room only.”

Prior to 2011 Frank won a battle with cancer between 2006-2007 which he was in no way looking to lose. The support and fan base that arose from the projects was a turning point for him that gave him the energy to forge on with his work. After the success of “Red Corvette” he wrote and directed the film “Veneration”. That project was real special since it starred Emmy Award winner, Charles S. Dutton and actor/playwright Mark Borkowski. Frank was able to grab Charles via casting agent Roz Fulton from PA. Also on the project was Artie Pasquale (Sopranos) and Steve Stanulis (The Networker). It was released as a 30 minute short to many festivals and was well received.

There are a few things that Frank focuses on when auditioning actors for his projects. He looks for how they prepare to audition, the choices they make for the actual audition and even more so how they present themselves. These are points of interest to Frank when he is looking for the perfect fit. On the horizon for Frank is another project called “Offstage Elements” written by Maria Viola Jefferson and produced by MVJ Productions and DreamQuest Entertainment. This film has an impressive cast attached to it with seasoned actors like Tony Darrow (Goodfellas), Mike Starr (Kill the Irishman), Peter Patrikios and Drew Maniscalco. The project takes on a different subject area than its predecessors. The subject touches upon a band in the music industry; the others all had a mob element.

“Offstage Elements” will make its premiere at the prestigious Worldfest Film Festival in Houston, Texas in April 2019 and it’s East Coast Premiere will be in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Indie Film Festival in May of 2019. It has been submitted to 15 festivals in PA, NY, NJ, North Carolina and even Canada.  Frank is always looking to build on what he has done before. A man on a mission in the film industry.

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