In photo: Top row, from left: Renaldo Mancini, Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, Paul Borghese and Yury Tsykun. Bottom row, from left: Louis Vanaria, Joseph D’Onofrio, James Glorioso Jr. and Kathrina Miccio.
James Glorioso Jr.’s journey into show business has been nothing short of swift.
“People say that it doesn’t happen like it happened for me,” Glorioso said.
Over the last year or so, the Amsterdam resident has landed dozens of background roles in television shows and feature films like Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and secured himself a place in the Screen Actors Guild.
“A lot of people that I know in the industry that have done background [work] for many, many years still don’t have enough to qualify to join the union,” Glorioso said.
Now, he’s looking beyond background roles.
“There’s a lot of people that are just content being background. Not me, I’ve always looked at this as a progression.”
Next month, he’s embarking on the next phase of that progression: producing his first show.
“Almost Made” is a slapstick comedy starring the likes of Paul Borghese (“The Irishman”), Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, Louis Vanaria (“A Bronx Tale”), Kathrina Miccio (“Sopranos”), Yury Tsykun (“Burn After Reading”), and others.
It follows a wannabe gangster who, after being released from prison, puts together a crew of misfits to prove to the mob they’ve got what it takes to be “made guys.” The crew has several failures, landing them in jail.
The show was backed by more than 100 people on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo earlier this year, going beyond its $30,000 goal and hitting the $33,715 mark. Since then, other investors have come on board, increasing the funding to $50,000.
Not bad for Glorioso’s first production.
“I never thought I would be a writer, to be honest with you,” Glorioso said.
Growing up, he just wanted to be a police officer. In the past, he worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Dutchess and Montgomery Counties. He also ran for Montgomery County Sheriff in 2017. While his bid was unsuccessful, it ultimately gave him the time to jump into background work.
It was while doing background work on “The Marvelous Ms. Maisel” last spring that he first started writing “Almost Made.”
“We were there for eight days to film a couple scenes in Queens. I met a group of guys, all Italian guys, and we spent a lot of time together; they were 14-16 hour days every day. . . We were just talking because most of us were fairly new to the background world and we’re like ‘How do you get lines?’ So we were just like ‘Why don’t we just make our own movie?’ The initial thought was we were just going to get a couple of cheap cameras . . . and we were just going to throw together a movie to give ourselves practice speaking in front of cameras,” Glorioso said.
Thus, he started writing that day and the story ideas haven’t tapered since.
“I just kept on typing and typing; I realized I had this ability to create storylines. Since that one, I have a 160-page full feature written, I have two other episodic series written, [and] I have five short films written. I’ve been writing and writing and writing; I even never knew I had this in me,” Glorioso said.
year, while he was working long hours and most days of the week in New York City as a background actor, he started to get the ball rolling on producing “Almost Made,” setting up the Indiegogo campaign and networking with people in the industry. The latter was easy to do, as even when he’s not working, he can usually be found on other sets, accompanying his wife Courtney and son Leo, who also recently got into acting.
The Indiegogo campaign not only funded the film but caught the eye of Borghese, a producer and actor who is well-known in the mob-film genre.
“I looked at it and I said ‘That looks pretty good. You did a good job with that’ and it seemed like it was interesting and fun so I reached back out to them and asked them more about it. I got the script; I thought it was funny and I thought it had the potential to be a series. There were some interesting characters and I liked my character,” Borghese said.
After talking with Glorioso, Borghese brought in a few other actors that he had worked with in the past who he knew would be perfect for the project, like Martling, a former head writer on the Howard Stern Show.
“Jim is very ambitious. He’s a new filmmaker so he’s putting so much into this that I want to see him succeed. I’m just trying to help in any way I can; not just showing up and playing a role so to speak,” Borghese said.
Beyond the actors that Borghese brought on, they also partnered with a casting company to fill out the rest of the cast.
“The unfortunate part of this whole thing was out of the main crew of people that we originally wrote this for there [were] only two of us that were left to play characters in the film so we had to give up the other guy’s parts. But they all understood because it adds to the production value of the film,” Glorioso said.
While he planned to start filming in April, with the spread of COVID-19 Glorioso pushed back the start date. He instead hopes to film after Memorial Day, having the cast and crew stay at the Amsterdam Castle for the week.
The delay, and lack of acting work, has given him time to build part of the show’s set at Riverfront Center in Amsterdam.
“I’m able to have my wardrobe, makeup and props department [there].
three or four different rooms. I’m going to have another room that’s going to be our production office and another one’s going to be for holding and catering and then one big room, [where] we built the whole set of one of the main character’s office,” Glorioso said.
Though the set doesn’t have natural lighting, Glorioso worked with a set designer to create a fake wall and artificial lighting.
Other filming locations include a few spots in the Town of Glen as well as the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office, which Glorioso was waiting on approval for when he spoke with The Gazette in April.
According to Borghese, the location sets the show apart from others he’s worked on.
“What’s different about this is the location. It’s more secluded, out of the way. Usually, most of the mob stuff I work on is very urban. It’s usually shot in the boroughs. This being an upstate thing is a little different,” Borghese said.
After filming and editing it, “Almost Made” will be pitched to entertainment goliaths like Netflix, though Glorioso also plans to pitch it to new-comers like Quibi; and while COVID-19 delayed the filming, Glorioso suspects there might be an upside to all this.
“It just lined up perfectly for me because these streaming companies are going to be dying for content soon. Everybody’s binge-watching everything and . . . everything [these streaming platforms are] supposed to be getting for the next season they don’t have,” Glorioso said.
He also believes that the content is perfectly positioned.
“The reason people are excited about it is it’s not the typical mob thing that’s out there. Everything out there that’s mob [themed] is serious, it’s kind of violent or shows what the mob really is. This is slapstick comedy mob stuff.
There’s not much of that. That’s what I’ve been told makes it desirable because if it’s done right it’s just something different,” Glorioso said.
Should “Almost Made” be purchased, he hopes to stay on with the show as an actor and in other capacities; thereby officially “making it,” not in the mob world but the film industry.
“That would be life-changing for me,” Glorioso said.
With Glorioso’s drive, Borghese believes the show has a good chance of doing just that.
“He’s sweating the details and he’s really ambitious about getting this done the best way possible. I think we’re going to come out of it with a very good product, a very marketable product,” Borghese said.