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An Interview with Joseph Pepitone, Director of The Jersey Devil

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2015

Joseph Pepitone on (re)Search my Trash


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We have talked about this before [click here], but do bring us up to speed: Your movie The Jersey Devil - in a few words, what is it about?


Yes, itís great to be talking to you again. The Jersey Devil is a comedy that follows the age-old story of Devilís term limits are up. New Devil takes over. New Devil moves Hell to New Jersey. Old Devil tries to win back his throne with several pathetic schemes. Itís timeless.


A maybe obvious question: Why would the Devil move business to Jersey City?


For the comedic value. When I tell people about the movie, I get the usual ďisnít New Jersey already Hell?Ē Thatís the reputation of Jersey throughout the country. Throughout the world. There is someone in the world right now whose village has just been burned down by a crazed drug lord and even theyíre saying ďat least Iím not in New Jersey.Ē But we also wanted to find a city in New Jersey that was up and coming and hip. The Devil had to see some value in his new location. Jersey City fit that perfectly.


Of your three protagonists - old school Lucifer, manager type Burnett and yes-man Richard -, who do you identify with the most, and who do you empathize with the most?


Richard. Not because heís a yes-man, because I donít think you can write these kind of films without having an independent voice, but itís my favorite kind of character to write. Heís very similar to Michael Cheevers from my first film Stuck in the Middle. Heís child-like, loyal and a little dim. I relate to that. Itís a great comedic combination.


Edvin Ortega as Richard, Joseph Pepitone, Keith Collins as Burnett, Penelope Lagos as Tori

Do talk about the writing process of The Jersey Devil for a bit, and what was your collaboration with your co-writer and brother Billy like?


I wrote The Jersey Devil with my brother and writing partner Billy. Our process is usually one of us has the idea and writes it, then hands it over to the other one to put their twist on it. We have different strengths and weaknesses. I think we each got half a brain at birth and writing is the way to combine it.


Taking into account that some of your actors had some pretty big shoes to fill, playing Lucifer, God, Judas Isciarot, biblical Eve and the like, how easy or difficult was it to cast the movie, and what made your actors perfect for their roles?


We tried to get those guys to play themselves, but you know, agents. Actually, casting was easy because many of the actors in The Jersey Devil were also in Stuck in the Middle. Penelope Lagos, Jack Mulcahy, Keith Collins [Keith Collins interview - click here], Stephen Fontana, Evonne Walton and many others. It made the script easier to write knowing the voice I would be writing for. The actors I didnít know came highly recommended from many of my producers. Together we were able to put together a really solid cast.


As far as I know, official Jersey City actually helped in making The Jersey Devil happen - now how did that come about?


Bribes. Iím kiddingÖ we couldnít afford bribes. All of the producers on the film made tremendous contributions. Two of them, Michael Billy and Jarl Haugedal have developed great relationships working with the community throughout Jersey City. They were able to secure locations and sponsorships that really made the movie possible. Jersey City was so great to us and we had the backing of Mayor Steven Fulop. They even gave us permission to shoot in City Hall and the Mayorís office.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


I direct like a writer. As long as the actors are saying the words I wrote Iím good. However, that doesnít make for a visually appealing film. Luckily I was surrounded by an amazingly talented cast and crew that more than made up for my shortcomings. If thereís someone in the room smarter than you, listen to them. There were a lot of people smarter than me in the room. And it was a big room. It also doesnít hurt to have a DP like Cory Green who is one of the best in the business.


Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!


We were hit with two blizzards of biblical proportions during shooting, as if some higher power was angry with us for some unexplained reason. But even through that, this was by far the greatest professional experience I have ever been a part of. I really looked forward to coming to set each day and working with everyone even though I knew we had an insurmountable number of pages to shoot. The best thing I take away from The Jersey Devil is that many of the cast and crew have gone on to collaborate on several other projects together. I think their common disdain for me really brought them together.


with quite a few awards at the A.C. Cinefest

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Jersey Devil yet?


We have had several screenings of The Jersey Devil including our premiere at the Loews Landmark Theater in Jersey City where we had a crowd of over 600. The reviews have been terrific. We hit the festival circuit and won a few awards including Best Comedy Feature and have received a tremendous amount of press coverage. Iím really proud of this film and word of mouth will be positive.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


We are pretty busy. My brother Billyís new novel Lake of Fire will be out August 20th. We wrote a horror/thriller that I directed called Clean Cut that is currently in post-production. And Phoenix: The Resurrection is the big action/thriller that we are ready to make and should begin shooting in early 2016.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


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And follow me on Twitter - @joepep27

The Jersey Devil will be out on DVD on October 27th. But you can pre-order it right now on Amazon:  - go ahead, order it. Iíll wait.


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


We didnít discuss my issues with authority or my crippling fear of lady bugs, but Iíll save that for my therapist.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD