Pursuing her passion for music videos

Photo by Bahareh Ritter

Monique Impagliazzo remembers the impact that music videos had on her while growing up in East Passyunk. 

MTV was a booming success on cable television as pop stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna ruled the station, as well as the minds of young music lovers.

“I used to watch MTV with my brother and sister all the time and music videos were always something I found interesting,” Impagliazzo, 42, said. “Of course, I loved Madonna. My mom bought me my first Madonna record when I was 5. And I just recently watched the Papa Don’t Preach video the other day. I do love to go back and watch old music videos.”

Though MTV veered off from broadcasting music videos to putting the majority of its attention on reality television, music artists are still pumping out great music videos at many levels. And when Impagliazzo had a chance to direct one herself, like Van Halen, she jumped at the opportunity. Impagliazzo signed on to direct singer Malek Hanna’s second offering.

“The artist is a friend of mine and he was looking for a director and I just thought I always wanted to direct music videos since I was younger,” Impagliazzo said. “Malek is a good friend of mine and when I heard the song I thought it was so beautiful and so inspirational. It was exactly what I wanted to do as well. I’m also a big risk-taker.”

Impagliazzo has already established a career in Hollywood as a writer, director and producer of films, television, commercials and documentaries for more than 15 years alongside big-name stars like Al Pacino, Julia Roberts, Post Malone and Jane Lynch. Her 2019 award-winning film Turkey’s Done was memorably shot in South Philly starring former Saturday Night Live actress Cheri Oteri.

This time, Impagliazzo decided to step a little further out of her comfort zone and pursue a longtime passion. Impagliazzo directed and co-produced Hanna’s new video Which Way To Go, which premieres Sept. 21 during opening night of the Women’s Film Festival at the 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building Theater (Tickets: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/thewomensfilmfestival).

It brings Impagliazzo back to her hometown for a very special night. She’s no stranger to the event as Turkey’s Done premiered and won the juror award for Best Comedy at the Women’s Film Festival in 2019.

Photo by Bahareh Ritter

In this venture, Impagliazzo directs Hanna’s music video, which is shot in beautifully scenic Malibu. It begins with some theatrics in a diner before heading out to the coastline where the Brooklyn native’s voice takes over the screen. In the video, he’s trying to show his family that he’d rather pursue entertainment than take over the family business.

“It was definitely collaborative,” Impagliazzo said. “I asked Malek a lot of personal questions and what the song meant to him and where he sees himself now and in the future. He was telling his own personal story. I also wanted to make sure his personality came through.”

After the success with Turkey’s Done, which was co-created by fellow St. Maria Goretti High School grads Jennifer and Krystal Tini, Impagliazzo has found several routes of success in California entertainment. But with the current Writers Guild of America Strike, certain opportunities have dried up. Creating music videos is something that is still allowed. 

“I’ve been developing during this strike because I need to write or work on something every day to stay focused,” Impagliazzo said. “I write to open opportunities to direct because it’s still pretty hard for women to break through with directing, so we work hard every single day to do that. And with us being on strike, music videos and commercials and reality are the only things we’re allowed to shoot right now.”

By creating a new road and finding success while doing it, Impagliazzo now has a new stream of opportunity.

“Since I’ve directed this video, I’ve been in conversation with quite a few musicians who want to shoot videos, so I’m now in the process of shooting another one,” she said. “It’s really fun to see a song take on a story and come up with a concept and then shoot the concept with the artist and with what they had in mind.”

But that doesn’t mean she’s full-fledged into the music scene. Impagliazzo has movie and television ideas in development. She’s working on a movie called Ready, Set, Christmas, which she wrote and will direct, and she has a series in the early planning stages called Agency with Philadelphia producer Wendy Cox.

It’s described as “In an industry dominated by alpha males, an ambitious female sports agent at a small boutique AGENCY in Philadelphia sets her sights high despite her family’s legacy of involvement in illegal sports betting.”

Impagliazzo is thrilled for another opportunity to film in her hometown.

“We plan to shoot it not only in Philly but specifically in South Philly,” Impagliazzo said. “I can’t say much about it right now, but it’s something we are very excited about. My goal is always to come back to Philly and shoot. I want to tell the world about who we are and how we live. I think it’s very specific and very important.”

Whether it’s shooting films, TV or music videos, Impagliazzo loves to experience those creative jitters that come with putting art in motion.

“I never know what’s going to happen with it,” she said. “I just hope that it resonates and people like it. When you’re coming up with a concept and shooting and editing, I always have those butterflies in my stomach before anyone sees it. It’s the same thing when I’m writing a script, but it’s a little different, too. With a script, you can always make the draft better. When you’re doing a final edit with a film or a video, that’s it. It’s like, here you go, world.”

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr2D30BwzPQ