Three summers ago, filmmakers Monique Impagliazzo and Jennifer and Krystal Tini took over the 1900 block of S. Jessup St. and the 1200 block of McKean St. with lights, cameras and action.
Maintaining a small budget and a big vision, the three graduates of St. Maria Goretti High School produced “Turkey’s Done,” a short comedy film featuring renowned stars such as former Saturday Night Live cast member Cheri Oteri, stand-up comedian Vic DiBitetto and actor Al Sapienza, whose credits include “The Sopranos” and “House of Cards.”
Throughout 2019, Impagliazzo, an East Passyunk Crossing native, along with the Tini sisters from Packer Park, made a name for themselves, as the 17-minute cut gained global recognition at several film festivals.
But now, the highly anticipated film, a product of the team’s joint venture of Big Sis productions, has been released on Amazon Prime Video just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Basically, the only people who could see it were those who attended the film festival and what we heard was – people couldn’t wait for their families and friends to watch it,” Jennifer Tini said. “People they know that would love it, and now everyone gets to see it. So, we’re finally glad that it’s at that stage of the process.”
The film follows Oteri’s character of Peaches Bracco, a sassy South Philly housewife who stuffs a Thanksgiving turkey with evidence of her jailbird husband’s affair.
Impagliazzo and the Tini sisters first met the former “SNL” star after moving to Southern California over the last decade. They almost instantly bonded with Oteri, an Upper Darby native, as she, too, spoke with a Philly accent.
“(Oteri) loved going back to Philly to shoot,” Impagliazzo said. “She just loves it there so much.”
Returning to their roots to generate “Turkey’s Done” turned out to be a crucial component of the production process.
Unsurprisingly, the South Philadelphia community came together to bring the film to fruition.
The team created their pop-up production office out of a donated space from Mark Leuzzi Plumbing, located at 20th and Wolf streets. The filmmakers also thank several South Philly businesses, locations and individuals for bringing the film to life, such as Pastificio deli, “Rowhome” magazine, the East Passyunk Community Recreation Center, Councilman Mark Squilla, Realtor Maria Rosetti and Scott Keenan of Keenan’s Irish Pub in Wildwood.
Through an Indiegogo page, more than $25,000 was raised, which the team says was mostly from South Philly-based friends and family, to fund production.
“Without South Philly, we could not have done this, truly,” Jennifer Tini said. “The community came together for us…it’s such a big thank you to them. I’m so grateful every day just to have this film made and to know that it came from our hometown from the help of people that came together for us.”
For that reason, the team has eagerly awaited the release of “Turkey’s Done” on an online streaming service, increasing its accessibility to the South Philly community while also elevating the film’s exposure on an international scale.
Since February, the short film has been seen at festivals across the country as well as at Vancouver’s Just for Laughs Festival, where it placed third in the short film category, competing with dozens of projects from across the world.
“That was such a shock, because it’s in Canada on the West Coast and that’s when we realized that this was a really universal film,” Impagliazzo said. “Not just for east coasters. Not just for Philly. People relate to it all over the place.”
Not long after, it was given the juror award for Best Comedy in the Women’s Film Festival at the Kimmel Center in March. Just a couple of months later, it was screened at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, where Jennifer Tini and Impagliazzo clinched Best First Time Director for a Short Film.
“For us, as our first project, to have someone like Cheri Oteri star in it and then for us to get it this far and win awards at festivals, it really shocked us a bit,” Impagliazzo said.
Oteri was even given a Film and Television Office Dreammaker’s award at the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival. The success didn’t cease there, as Oteri was even awarded Best Actress at the Burbank International Film Festival in September
After recently wrapping up its final screening at the Golden Door Film Festival in Jersey City, “Turkey’s Done” is ready for the small screen on Amazon Prime Video.
“For me, distribution, I think, is one of the hardest parts of filmmaking,” Jennifer Tini said. “…Your film can sit on a shelf for years and not get any play or not be able to get it anywhere, especially a short film. Short films didn’t really have platforms until recently where we can show it.”
“Turkey’s Done” producers encourage audiences to watch the short film with friends and family on the Thanksgiving holiday.
The filmmakers say streaming services have especially benefited emerging filmmakers like themselves, especially those creating short films, as prior to these programs, these projects didn’t have such an accessible outlet to audiences.
“And now with a platform like Amazon Prime Video,” Impagliazzo said. “it’s giving filmmakers, like ourselves, this outlet to make films and actually have more than our family and friends see the film.”
To purchase the short, click here.