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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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After being inspired by a project from a Seattle-based production company called Wondercamp, Tysons Reporter wants to create a video project highlighting hope and humanity during the COVID-19 pandemic — and we need your help.

Tysons Reporter is looking for video submissions of verbal “love letters” to neighbors around the Tysons area.

The point of this project is to learn how locals are keeping their spirits up and what people appreciate about life and community, even in hard times.

Submissions should be narrated like someone is reading a letter to someone they are about. An example can be found here.

Participants in Tysons, McLean, Falls Church, Merrifield and Vienna should send in videos of themselves and family members answering prompts (which can be found below) and also clips showing off a fun skill or hobby that has been keeping them occupied while staying inside, like gardening, baking, family fun, sing-alongs or playing with pets.

First responders, healthcare workers and other essential workers are also encouraged to send in videos talking about what gives them hope for a brighter future.

Answers to prompts should flow together and be applicable to a larger audience.

Please send all video submissions to our staff reporter Ashley Hopko at [email protected] before next Monday (May 4).

Prompts include:

  • How has your community given you hope during this challenging time?
  • Have you seen any acts of kindness lately?
  • How has the pandemic helped you to reevaluate your priorities?
  • What do you wish for your community and friends during this time?
  • How have you helped your community in this time of crisis?

Videography Tips

  • Smartphones are okay
  • Speak clearly and at a steady pace
  • Make sure your environment is well-lit with natural light (outside or near a window)
  • Ensure you are in a quiet space
  • Try to use a makeshift tripod to ensure shake-free shots
  • Do a sound check before sending in your video. If you can’t hear yourself clearly, we can’t hear you either
  • Avoid profanity or adult themes. This is an inclusive project for all ages

Photo via Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Video: Students Brawl at McLean McDonald’s — Cell phone video shows dozens of students from McLean and Langley high schools brawling in the McDonald’s at the corner of Old Dominion Drive and Dolley Madison Blvd. No one was reported injured from the fracas, which happened Friday night after a basketball game between the two rival schools. [Fox 5]

McLean Community Center Closing Early — In addition to the early dismissal for Fairfax County Public Schools, other weather-related early closings are being announced today. Among them: the McLean Community Center is cancelling all classes that begin at or after 1 p.m. [Twitter]

Fairfax No. 2 on Va. Net Worth Rankings — “Fairfax County is ranked #2 in a SmartAsset study showing the top 10 Virginia counties with the highest net worths. Despite having the highest per capita income on the list, Loudoun County came in only at #7 due to also carrying a significantly higher per capita debt burden, also the highest on the list.” [Fairfax Times]

Potomac School Student is Top Science Talent — “Carolyn Beaumont, a senior at the Potomac School, has been named a Top 40 Finalist in the 78th Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high-school seniors.” [InsideNova]

FCEDA Touts New Businesses, Jobs — “In 2018, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) worked with 143 businesses that announced the addition of more than 8,900 jobs to the Fairfax County economy.” [Fairfax County EDA]

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Morning Notes

Mom Has Daughter Arrested for Theft — “A woman living in the 600 block of Gibson Circle, S.W., told Vienna police on Sept. 27 at 12:30 a.m. that her juvenile daughter allegedly had stolen her cell phone and punched a hole in a wall. The resident advised police she wished to pursue charges.” [InsideNova]

Uptick in Sexual Harassment Reports at FCPS — “The 2017-2018 Fairfax County Youth Survey found that 14.2 percent of students reported being sexually harassed in the past year, an increase of a full percentage point from the 13.2 percent in the survey issued during the 2016-2017 school year. Female students are three times more likely than male students to report experiencing sexual harassment as 20.8 percent of girls said they had been harassed compared to 7.3 percent of boys.” [Fairfax County Times]

Hurricane Michael Could Soak Region — The remnants of Hurricane Michael, which is on a collision course with the Florida panhandle, could bring an inch or so of rain to Fairfax County between late Wednesday night and Friday. [Capital Weather Gang]

Tysons Firm Announces Merger — Tysons-based Telarix Inc. last week “announced its merger with Starhome Mach, the leading global provider of SaaS wholesale and retail roaming, clearing, settlement and fraud prevention solutions.” The combined company will be headquartered in Tysons. [Starhome Mach]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month in FFX — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Fairfax County held an event to remind residents to “make the call to end domestic violence.” The county’s 24-hour domestic and sexual violence hotline is 703-360-7273. [YouTube]

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Morning Notes

Fight to Keep Claude Moore Farm Open — “The National Park Service has said Claude Moore will close Dec. 21, but the Farm is fighting to stay open… The Park Service presented the Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm with its standard agreement, but the Friends felt they could not operate under its terms.” [McLean Connection]

County Highlights Opioid Danger — Via a new video, Fairfax County is highlighting the “danger in your medicine cabinet.” Per the county: “An epidemic of addiction to heroin and other opioids has gripped the nation, including here in Fairfax. Protect your community… dispose of your unused prescription drugs safely.” [YouTube]

Church Holding Event on Pornography — Vienna Presbyterian Church is holding an event next month for parents and teens entitled “Pornography, A Public Health Crisis.” The event will include “a workshop to help attendees confidently discuss the real risks or pornography use and an action plan to more effectively block pornography exposure online.” [Patch]

Vienna Town Hall Parking Changes — “The Vienna town government plans to shift some parking spaces in the lot behind Town Hall and install a stormwater-management facility there. The Vienna Town Council on Sept. 17 unanimously approved an up-to-$130,000 contract with LCS Site Services LLC to perform the work.” [InsideNova]

Contribute to Our Flickr Pool — Are you an amateur photographer who wants to share your work with the local community? A professional photog who wants to boost your name recognition via some off-duty snaps? No matter your skill level or background, we would love to show off your photos in our daily Morning Notes post. Want to contribute? Email us or add your shots to our Flickr pool. [Flickr]

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