Tysons, VA

After a decade of working day jobs in fields like risk management and travel insurance, Vienna filmmaker Giuseppe Lucarelli, 40, is hitting a career milestone with the release of his first film on Blu-ray and DVD today.

Checkmate, originally titled Bystander, is currently available on Amazon and Google Play. Last year, the film screened at the Action on Film Mega Fest in Las Vegas, where it won Best Editing, and the Hollywood Dreams International Film Festival, receiving nine award nominations between the two festivals.

Lucarelli also submitted a short, Malanak, at the two festivals that received a collective seven nominations, winning Best Title and Best Graphics at the Hollywood Dreams International Festival.

Lucarelli says he is excited to see his first film available in stores.

“Getting distribution was our goal,” Lucarelli said. “We were so excited when Indie Rights partnered with us to distribute our film. It’s a true accomplishment, and to do it with my very first film, it feels great.  It’s exciting that it will be available in stores around the country.”

Though he still has a day job as a real estate agent for Weichert Realty in Vienna, Lucarelli has accrued an impressive range of skills and experience as a filmmaker.

In addition to writing, producing, directing, editing, and sometimes acting, he is the founder and owner of Mountain Wind Productions. The company has produced two independent films, including Checkmate and The First Seal, as well as small commercials for local companies.

Lucarelli is an alumnus of West Virginia University where he received a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology in 2002 and Master of Science in industrial relations and rehabilitation counseling in 2006.

Lucarelli took acting classes while attending West Virginia University, but it wasn’t until he was working in risk management with Liberty Mutual in 2007 that he began learning the business side of film during his free time.

“What I was doing was basically getting paid for education,” Lucarelli explained. “I was sitting there watching the crews, the big crews, learning what they were doing right, especially from a structural standpoint, what they were doing doing poorly,  learning the ropes that way.”

In 2009, Lucarelli returned to West Virginia University, where he accepted a teaching position as a visiting instructor and pursued a Master of Business Administration. After obtaining his MBA in 2013, Lucarelli bought an LLC for Mountain Wind Productions.

After college, Lucarelli worked full-time for Travelers Insurance and part-time for Mountain Wind Productions. He left Travelers in 2016 and began working with his production company full-time.

Lucarelli compares being an independent filmmaker to being a soccer coach.

“So much of the coaching is done before the game that once they’re out there, the players have to go,” Lucarelli said. “You can yell and bark, but players have to make the decision. So, 80% of the directing is done in pre-production. I talk with my actors a lot. I’m very engaged, but I feel like if everybody’s having a good time, they’ll put their best foot forward.”

Lucarelli says he enjoys being an independent filmmaker in Northern Virginia because of the large talent base, especially those he’s interacted with through Women in Film & Video of Washington, D.C., a nonprofit that provides support and resources to media professionals. He serves as an at-large member on the organization’s board of directors.

“We have a lot of accomplished documentarians and filmmakers in the area,” Lucarelli said. “…[Women in Film & Video] is just a wonderful organization, and we do a lot of great things for members ranging from students to very, very, very accomplished people. It’s a great network, it’s been nice to be a part of, and [I’ve] found a lot of very good people in there.”

When it comes to advice for aspiring independent filmmakers, Lucarelli suggests taking classes and learning the business side of the movie industry.

“Having an understanding of business is a really important thing,” he said.

Photo courtesy Guiseppe Lucarelli

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When the novel coronavirus pandemic upended Americans’ daily lives in March, Great Falls resident James Ye turned to a 110-year-old organization for guidance: the Boy Scouts.

Now a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Ye joined Boy Scouts of America Troop 55 when he was in fifth grade and has since accumulated about 1,000 hours of community service.

Ye says the values espoused by the Scout Oath and Law, which include volunteering, were on his mind when he saw a Facebook advertisement seeking volunteers for the Volunteer Fairfax Donations Collection Warehouse.

“During national historic crises, Scouting organizations have always jumped into action, sort of helped out in emergency response,” Ye said. “…I think the coronavirus is another example of a historic national disaster, and being a Scout, just doing your duty to your country, I wanted to be a part of that.”

Led by the nonprofit Volunteer Fairfax, the warehouse is Fairfax County’s hub for organizing masks, food, and other resources for community organizations as part of its COVID-19 emergency response.

At first, Ye mostly helped Volunteer Fairfax emergency response manager Tejas Patel maintain an inventory of the donations passing through the warehouse, but his duties later expanded to include greeting and contacting donors, doing research, and sharing content on social media.

Ye, who amassed 190 service hours at the warehouse, is one of thousands of local community members who have contributed to Fairfax County’s pandemic emergency response as volunteers.

Fairfax County reported on Oct. 6 that close to 3,000 volunteers have collectively spent 96,006 hours since Mar. 17 helping various county services, including the police and fire departments, public libraries, and Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.

In addition, more than 1,000 individuals have signed up for the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps, which assists the Fairfax County Health Department in emergencies. With 521 volunteers now onboarded, 233 people have contributed 4,392 volunteer hours since Mar. 1, doing everything from managing medical supply donations to assisting at community testing sites and back-to-school immunization clinics. Read More

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After 27 years of service in the U.S. Military, Vienna resident Timothy Redmond decided to share his experiences in an autobiography.

As You Were” is a novel about Redmond’s personal life experience after 9/11 and the time he served on duty in Afghanistan. Though the book came out in 2018, it continues to attract attention from readers as he tours local bookshops.

Before he even decided to write a novel, Redmond discovered his passion as a novelist during a creative writing workshop for retired combat veterans hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

During the writing process, Redmond told Tysons Reporter he spent time processing traumatic events that happened to him and his close friends — including the death of a friend.

“It’s stressful to relive some of that,” he said.

He also said it took him a little extra time to write the book because he “wanted to get it right” and respect the people he served with through remembrance. Redmond mentioned that several members in his former unit read the book and gave positive feedback.

From the description of the book on Amazon:

A freshly-minted prosecutor with the Brooklyn DA’s Office, Tim Redmond thought he’d left his life as a Green Beret behind as he pulled into the World Trade Center train station on the morning of 9/11. Three months later he was back in Afghanistan with his old A-Team gearing up for the fight of their lives! Follow this team of Special Forces on their raucous and heroic journey through the unimaginable horrors of war and their unique struggle to return to a home they can no longer make sense of.

Redmond shared his book with the community on Aug. 4, when he set up a table at the new Barnes & Noble in the Mosaic District. He signed autographs and bonded with community members from around the region.

Looking forward to the future, Redmond, who works at a local law firm in Tysons, said that he and his publicist are in the process of scheduling similar events in Tysons.

Photo courtesy Tim Redmond

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YetiCloud in Tysons recently received a facelift after the owners decided to rework their business model.

When co-founders Tim Marcinowski and Peter Fraedrich began the company, previously called TaskFit.io, they aimed to solve information technology problems for companies using the cloud with assistance from artificial intelligence (AI). But Marcinowski said that their market research showed many potential clients were risk-averse and not comfortable relying on AI.

Instead of giving up on their venture, they decided to switch tactics and rethink how they cater to the needs of clients. They decided to edge away from solutions using AI and instead focused on offering consultations, training and a 24/7 platform support for customers.

“We monitor in real-time and take action in two ways,” Marcinowski told Tysons Reporter.

When an issue arises, the company gives clients an option to either direct YetiCloud on how they want an issue solved or allow YetiCloud to handle the problem as it best sees fit.

When rebranding, the founders tried to synthesize the passion of their customer base and their target goal — which is to simplify and help troubleshoot cloud use.

Marcinowski told Tysons Reporter when renaming the brand, the company began to play with names of a fictional character and settled on a Yeti because “we thought it was funny we could say we solved the big hairy problem of the cloud.”

Currently, YetiCloud works with about 15 clients, four of which are paying customers, according to Marcinowski. The company offers a free version of the software to establish relationships with potential customers to build a brand alliance and product trust.

In the beginning, the company was entirely funded through profits and personal capital from the co-founders. “We had an early potential investor but the terms didn’t match up,” Marcinowski said. He told Tysons Reporter that the investor wanted 6% of all the profits, but he and his co-founder decided to turn down the opportunity.

Since October 2018, the company brought on several new employees and plans to keep expanding. For the time being YetiCloud will remain at the WeWork location in Tysons Corner.

“We definitely have the ability to flip the perception of this area,” he said when discussing the possibility of Tysons becoming the next technology hub, especially with the new Amazon HQ2 and other companies coming to Northern Virginia.

By 2024, Marcinowski wants to have $20 million yearly reoccurring revenue, which he said would help legitimize the company by building a solid financial foundation.

YetiCloud also has a new goal to raise $600,000 from new investors within the next six months.

New companies like YetiCloud must find “alternative solutions to problems that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” he said.

Photo courtesy of  Tim Marcinowski

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Come this Sunday, Mad Fox Brewing Company will close its doors in Falls Church.

CEO and Executive Brewer Bill Madden announced the closure earlier in July on Facebook right before the brewpub’s ninth anniversary.

Madden, who got his start at Capitol City Brewing Company before working at Founders and Vintage 50, opened Mad Fox Brewing Company in 2010, taking inspiration from Euro gastro brewpubs.

Just days away from closing, Madden shared with Tysons Reporter more details about the closure and some of his favorite memories at Mad Fox Brewing Company.

Tysons Reporter: What comes next?

Bill Madden: For me? I’m thinking about whether I do something else — another type of brewing project — because that’s what I’m trained to do or whether I go into what they call ally trade.

I really haven’t had a chance to think about it that much because we were working hard to try to make this happen, and I couldn’t go public with anything until last Tuesday so I couldn’t really reach out and talk to people for fear that it might tip the scale or reveal my hand.

It’s tough when you have a business that you know is about to close. You have to do it the right way and we wanted to talk to the bank, talk to the landlord let them know so it wouldn’t be a big surprise and let our management team and let our employees know. And then we went to the public rather than surprising everybody and locking the door.

TR: It sounded like from the Facebook post that the reason why you’re closing is because of the abundance of breweries that have popped up in the area. Is that why?

BM: Well the result is our sales have reached a historic low and as much as the landlord and bank were trying to work with us, we couldn’t come to anything that was even break even. When you’re at that point, you have to say, “It’s time to close.”

So what has happened since the rules were changed in 2012 and it’s specific to Senate Bill 604 — that a food component was not required to sell a pint of beer. Once that happened, we had a whole number of breweries that opened up.

When that changed, we went from 40 breweries in the state of Virginia to 250 plus and we’ve slowly seen our beer sales go down each year from then.

TR: It looked like from the Facebook comments that several breweries around the area were thanking you for your support and your help.

BM: We were at the forefront. We were at the beginning of this new explosion of breweries or whatever you want to call it. So a lot of those brewers came through here asking questions, asking how you do it. And I was always willing to help and talk to people and be very honest about what we were doing here. And a lot of folks learned from us and then a lot of folks learned from those people.

I wasn’t the first brewery in Virginia. And there were other breweries that paved the way before me — Jerry Bailey of Old Dominion and Tom Martin of Legend Brewing in Richmond.

TR: But you were the first brewery in Falls Church.

BM: Yes — ever, that I can find record of. I always like to do a little historical research on any location I’ve worked in. Unless some of the taverns in the colonial period brewed their own, we were the first in Falls Church.

TR: There are 450 plus comments on the Facebook post.

BM: I never realized so many people had their first dates here or maybe proposed here or had their rehearsal dinner here. Or decided to have kids. There was one person who said they decided to have kids here. And I was like, “Oh my god! That’s an interesting conversation to have in our brewpub.”

It’s bittersweet. We have a lot of memories and we have a lot to be proud of. We hold our heads high for everything that we did. We collaborated with local businesses. We had rehearsal dinners and birthdays and parties.

TR: What are your fondest memories looking back over the last nine years?

BM: The early days when everything was still very new and fresh and a lot of breweries were starting to open up. We would hold events here with those [new] brewers — DC Brau, Port City, Three Stars. All of them that had started after us that were so excited and so eager to promote themselves and we were the space that did it for them in the early days. And a lot of those guys and gals came through here and gave us a lot of great experiences and now a lot of them are very, very successful.

TR: How was the anniversary party last Saturday?

BM: It was unbelievable busy — business like we haven’t seen since we opened. Probably was many [people] as the fire marshall would allow. There’s been a great outpouring of love. I think what’s happened — it’s affirmation for what we did in the beginning.

We would have folks who would come from great distances away — Vienna, Centreville, Reston — to come and experience what we had to offer here because there wasn’t anything like that in their area. Since the growth of all the breweries, now they have a brewery in their town that maybe they go to, but they remember what a great time they had here. And they realized they had a limited time to experience that again, and they’ve been showing a lot of love.

TR: Many commenters said they are going to miss the Orange Whip IPA. Do you have a favorite beer?

BM: They’re all my children.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced that it had poached Arlington’s top economic development official, Victor Hoskins.

Currently the head of Arlington Economic Development, Hoskins recently wooed Amazon and its HQ2 to Arlington County. Come August, he will become FCEDA’s new president and CEO — one year after its now-retired and longtime leader, Gerry Gordon, announced his plans to leave.

Tysons Reporter talked to Hoskins about how he plans to head up one of the largest economic development agencies in the country.

“I’m done in Arlington.”

Hoskins said he entered the process for the FCEDA role back in May during the agency’s second hiring search for the position.

Back in December, he told ARLnow that he planned to work for Arlington County until the office vacancy rate dropped from its then-18 percent rate to 10 or 12 percent.

With a current rate of 16.7 percent, Hoskins said that Arlington County has “nothing to worry about” with Amazon coming in. Hoskins said that the career move is coming at the right time — “Yes, I’m done in Arlington.”

“If you look at my history, I pretty much do what I need to do and move on,” he said. In the case of both his former economic development role in D.C. and his Arlington County job, Hoskins, who describes himself as a person who likes to finish projects, said that he leaves once he’s accomplished the specific challenges of a job.

New Challenges Ahead 

“What I look for in a career change is a challenge,” he said. “This is a different kind of challenge. Just the size of the market is pretty amazing.”

Hoskins said he is looking forward to encouraging companies in Fairfax County to recruit and train more top workers with a talent-focused strategy.

“We already have a lot of talent residing [in Fairfax County],” he said. “We need to keep the people we have.” A part of that will include offering more opportunities to retrain employees with skills like cybersecurity coding, he added.

He also said he would like to see FCEDA get more closely involved with the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in addition to continuing work with the Planning Commission, Virginia Department of Transportation and other county agencies to set priorities.

Additionally, Hoskins said that the county could use more work on placemaking.

“The size of Fairfax County makes it difficult to create places — concentrated nodes of activity,” he said, which could include creating more urban villages around the Silver Line stations and making “a nexus between residential and commercial nodes.”

Another area Hoskins wants to work on is making Fairfax County more attractive to millennials.

Some ideas he has: creating places where people want to work and eat outside, offering more housing choices, making “interesting environments” and strengthening mass transportation.

Hoskins was quick to note that many of the challenges he mentioned are not unique to the county, which he praised for its global reputation and competition with places like London and Paris.

“Fairfax is amazing right now,” he said, lauding the county’s quality of life, including its public schools and parks. “Fairfax has it all. What we’re trying to do it to move it to the next level.”

Amazon’s Impact on Fairfax County

While Fairfax County lost its bid for Amazon, Hoskins said that the tech giant will impact Northern Virginia, from adding a plethora of new job opportunities to a “back and forth between employees and employers” with Amazon and local companies.

Hoskins also mentioned a recent report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, which estimated that roughly 33 percent of Amazon’s workforce would live in Fairfax County, while 16.4 percent would live in Arlington.

“It’s a higher percentage than [Amazon employees who] will live and work in Arlington,” Hoskins said.

On a larger scale, Hoskins said Amazon will transform Northern Virginia into a more innovative environment that will increase the private sector.

“[Amazon will bring an] innovation focus to the region where companies begin thinking differently about how they work,” he said.

Hoskins starts his new role on Aug. 5. Until then, he said he will help with the leadership transition at his current job before having two to three days off.

“Building an economy is more like solving a very complex puzzle,” he said.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

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As new developments crop up around Vienna, even the Money and King Funeral Home at 171 W. Maple Avenue — Vienna’s oldest business — isn’t immune to change.

The funeral home was founded in 1881 — the same year President Garfield was assassinated and a gunfight took place at the O.K Corral. From then until earlier this year, the business was family owned. But when the last of that family line turned 80 this spring, the business was passed on to others who had worked closely with the family over years.

But President and General Manager Robert Carmical, who has worked at the funeral home since 1994, says that while some things have evolved over time, the service hasn’t changed.

“We’re here to help,” said Carmical. “The [work we do] is in the little things, like printing booklets and arranging the music. It’s a celebration of this person’s life.”

Over time, Carmical said there’s been some evolutions in the funeral industry. Most funerals were traditionally held in homes or in churches, but with the slow erosion of church connections, Carmical said businesses like his are seeing more people asking to hold the services at the funeral home. Accordingly, the old church-style pews have been replaced by chairs.

He also said cremation has become more popular as an alternative to burial.

Carmical’s favorite thing about funerals is learning about people.

“You learn things about people, like their hobbies,” said Carmical. “These are things some people don’t know about [their friends], like they collected stamps or toys, or how everyone has a sweet tooth.”

Ashley Hopko contributed to this story

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Fairfax County police officers decided to chip in to buy a new car seat for a Merrifield mom after she was in a car crash.

It all started when Officer E.J. Green from the McLean District Station stopped to make sure everyone in a two-car crash in Merrifield on Sunday (May 26) was all right.

No one was hurt, although one of the cars needed to be towed. Its driver — a mom who lives in Merrifield — decided to walk home.

“Green offered to take her child’s car seat to her so she wouldn’t have to carry it, but quickly noticed that the car seat was old and in rough shape,” the Fairfax County Police Department wrote in a Facebook post.

Green then talked to the rest of the McLean daywork — the A squad — about how the car seat wouldn’t protect the child, and they all decided to pool their money to buy a new car seat for the mom.

Green and Officer Brian Hungarter surprised the mom and her daughter with the new car seat about an hour and a half later at 1:30 p.m., a spokesperson for the police department told Tysons Reporter.

“The woman was grateful, calling the officers’ actions sweet, kind and unexpected,” the police department wrote on Facebook. “We applaud these officers for making a positive difference in the lives of our community members!”

Photo via Facebook

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Even after 47 years, Ar-Jon Portable Toilets in Vienna is still “a family-owned business.”

The septic company is based out of 327 Owaissa Road S.E. and offers portable restrooms and sanitation equipment for any type of event that might need them.

“It’s a family thing,” Ben Wood said of the company his father started in 1972. Ben joined the business in 1975. “I’m the only son. My mother still runs the office and she’s helped out by my niece. I have two sons and the younger one works for us.”

Wood said the company has expanded and changed considerably since his father’s time. Over the last few years, there have been new innovations in septic-toilet cleaning.

“He started off with 12 wooden ones he built in the backyard,” Wood said. “Now, we’re at around 2,500.”

Like many businesses, Wood said Ar-Jon was hit hard by the 2008 recession, but the growth of construction in the area — and the subsequent need for portable toilets — has been a boon.

“Vienna is growing,” Wood said. “They’re tearing down all the 1940s homes and putting up big ones.”

For Wood, that means dozens of construction sites, all of which need portable toilets. Wood said that’s a large part of where the company’s business comes from.

“About 90 percent of our sites are construction,” Wood said. “We also do parks and specials events on weekends, that type of thing, especially like ViVa Vienna and Taste of Vienna.”

Photo via Facebook

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Vienna may be going through changes, but in some ways, life in The Italian Gourmet Deli (505 Maple Avenue W.) isn’t that different from when it opened in 1974.

Jeremy and Margaret Schottler are the owners of The Italian Gourmet. Jeremy bought it in 1995, having grown up in Vienna and worked in the deli throughout high school and college. He married Margaret in 2005, and shortly after, she began working at the business.

“The area has changed a lot since then,” Margaret said. “It’s a lot busier. We make frozen entrees, and once they were not big sellers, but now people really want them.”

Margaret said the shift is representative of a larger change in the town. When The Italian Gourmet started, Margaret said it was known as the place to get specialty Italian food at a time when Vienna — and Northern Virginia as a whole — were still very much viewed as part of the South.

“Everyone would spend their Sundays making marinara sauce and they’d come here for supplies,” she said.

While the quick-bites have become increasingly popular, the specialty side of the gourmet remains active from hand-rolled balls of mozzarella to basil from a nearby hydroponic farmer. Margaret said the deli even uses the same recipe and tomato base for their marinara as they always have.

One of the biggest changes over the last few years was the Schottlers opening Molly’s Yogurt, a frozen yogurt and gelato spot just a few doors down in the same shopping center. The location had been a framing store underneath overflow spaces owned by the Schottlers.

The framing store closed in the middle of the recession in 2010, but with frozen yogurt on the rise, Margaret said the family saw potential. Molly’s Yogurt — named after their daughter — opened that year and is basically an extension of the deli, sometimes using the same tools or kitchen.

In both locations, Margaret said they know most of their customers by name and enjoy answering questions people have about the deli and gelato.

“If people are making an effort to go out to shop, they want an experience,” said Margaret. “That’s what we will always provide — what chains aren’t able to.”

If you stop by the deli, Margaret recommends the Roman Sandwich, a collection of traditional cold cut meats loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more onto a 7-inch sub roll. Or if you swing by the frozen yogurt-gelato spot, Margaret said there’s plenty of options, but nothing beats classic chocolate.

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