Friends, bandmates and movie creators

Growing up on opposite sides of Broad Street, Fabian Farina and Mariano Mattei never imagined they’d end up on the same team.

Now they are making movies and winning awards together. 

“I was on the west side of Broad Street and Fabian was on the east side,” Mattei said. “We didn’t know each other. My cousin was a friend of his and we met by me going down to 9th and Morris and hanging out with my cousin. It was not a friendship off the start, and that’s putting it mildly.”

Both guys remember it similarly.

“I actually hated Mariano’s guts,” Farina said with a laugh. “Growing up at that time, it was like the Outsiders. We were the Greasers on the east side and they were the Socs on the west side. And I should add that (Mattei) was a really good-looking kid. All the girls loved Mariano. Whenever I hung out with him, I got zero attention from anybody.”

Sometime in their young adult lives — Mattei is a Central High School graduate and Farina is a St. John Neumann alum — they put their differences aside and became good friends, bandmates and currently movie creators.

Soon, they will release their second feature-length film Sacrum Vindictae through Four Olives Production, a production company Mattei and Farina founded together. Sacrum Vindictae will premiere on April 16 at 8 p.m. at the Hiway Theater at 212 Old York Road in Jenkintown. Tickets can be purchased at

The movie comes after the success of their first film One Night, which is streaming on Amazon Prime and won 10 international awards including Best International Feature. One Night cost only about $50,000 to make and served as a learning curve for the moviemaking duo. Despite all that, it still received high praise.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Mattei said. “It wasn’t a lot of money so we took on a lot ourselves. It was a lot more (awards) than I thought we would accumulate, but it was even better to end up on Amazon Prime. We were very proud of what we did and hopefully this one will do even better.”

If past history is any indication, both men should excel in their new venture. Farina has a knack of picking things up quickly dating to when Mattei was building a music band and needed a drummer. Farina, without hesitation, figured he was the man for the job.

“We didn’t have a drummer and Fabian said he would do it,” Mattei recalled. “I belly laughed. He didn’t know how to play the drums. But if there’s one thing you could say about Fabian, is that if he says he’s going to do something, he will hunker down with laser focus and figure it out. It’s sheer will. Three months later, people are saying he’s the best drummer ever. I had been playing (guitar and singing) for nine years and he was getting all the compliments.”

The band “Real” was formed, producing music out of Philly Sound Studios, which was previously owned by Mattei. Real disbanded about five years ago as Mattei and Farina decided to make movies.

Farina, who had never written a screenplay before, dropped one on Mattei’s lap. Mattei laughed, but remembered what happened when Farina first picked up the drumsticks.

“I learned my lesson,” Mattei said. “I said, why not. We decided to do a full-table read for One Night and it was actually good.”

Better than they thought. But there was still room to grow. One Night was a romantic drama starring Farina. Sacrum Vindictae pivots to a violent action film, made for mature audiences. 

“During the first movie, we probably didn’t learn what we had to do, but we learned what not to do,” Farina said. “And we carried that forward to the current production. We keep learning.”

They have also worked on a half-dozen short films between the two feature-length movies to sharpen their skills.

“In making the new film, we put the entire movie on a shot list,” Mattei said. “It helped us out tremendously, not just in shooting it, but in post-productions with editing. Before, we were just flying by the seat of our pants.”

Although the two films differ drastically, Farina wasn’t out of his element in the new action movie. He’s an Army veteran of six years who studied martial arts, which plays well into his character, who attempts to infiltrate a mafia organization that is responsible for the death of his wife and child.

The film is shot almost entirely in South Philly, but the producers stop short of saying the film is mob related.

“This is not a mob movie and I was really careful not to make it a mob movie because I didn’t want it to be super cliche,” Farina said. “This is a person who is ex-military with grounded street smarts. I put a lot of my personal attributes and characteristics in the character but it’s not 100 percent based on me, either.”

Scenes in the new movie venture through the Italian Market, specifically DiBruno Brothers on 9th Street. Other scenes were shot in South Philly warehouses and row homes. It follows a theme as scenes from One Night were shot in FDR Park, Marconi Plaza and East Passyunk Avenue.

“It’s one thing we try to do with all of our films,” Mattei said. “We call out Philadelphia and make it known we are in Philadelphia because I feel like that’s important. We’re both super proud of, not only being from Philly, but from South Philly. So whenever and however we can incorporate anything with South Philly, we do our best to do that.”