DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Dear Medium Friends,
Hello from New York City, all. I hope this post finds you doing well, despite the odd year through which we’re all struggling. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. Of the many things I am grateful for this year, Medium is one of them. This space remains a true sanctuary for me — and I hope for you — as the world and its pain clang around us.
I’m going to take a few weeks here in this space to depart from my usual pandemic ponderings and political analysis to focus on the personal. It is that time of year, when my home gets a little quieter and a little colder but warmed by reflections of the year that has been. This year is unique, in so many ways, and I want to celebrate the good times, even if they happen during the worst of moments. Perhaps that is when we need them most.
A lifelong dream came true this week. At 42, after 20 years of fighting to plant two feet in the entertainment business, my first feature film premiered nationwide on November 20, from Samuel Goldwyn Films. Thanks to Covid (oh, dear, Covid), the film won’t go to movie theaters, but it is now up on all major digital movie platforms and cable on-demand. To say that I am happy would be an understatement. I have felt a wide range of emotions in the last seven days, but mostly I have felt a deeply satisfying joy.
The film took nearly four years to make, from the idea to raising money to staffing up to production, all the way through distribution. Right now, Thanksgiving weekend, families across the country are laughing and crying with our characters, and here in New York I am hard at work promoting the film from my desk — one of those necessary “pivots” we’re all making to find a way to work through this madness.
I could not be happier or prouder to put “Team Marco” into the world. Never did I imagine that I would release my first feature film in the midst of such crisis in our lives. I can only believe that stronger forces than I made sure that this was the movie that families saw right now, in this moment, in 2020. It would be the honor of a lifetime if the movie’s message of love, family, friendship, and community truly brought the slightest comfort.
There are few words that can truly express my deepest gratitude to my friends, family, and colleagues for the decades of love and faith that made this moment possible. I endeavor each day in this life and in my work to honor that support. I was a strange gay kid with braces, a perm, and a love of calligraphy. I dreamt of only leaving my hometown. Thirty years later, this film is my love letter back to it.
Team Marco is a family movie. It’s not edgy. It’s not boundary-pushing. It’s the kind of movie I loved as a kid that I always dreamt of making one day. I hope you’ll get the chance to pop some popcorn and sit and watch. Leonard Maltin called it “life-affirming” (yes, I was a puddle for days). The New York Times commended the movie for its “golden view of Staten Island” — my hometown, where I shot it. And Film Threat described my favorite sequence in the movie as “the most beautiful way imaginable” to redeem technology, which plays a central role in the film.
In the coming weeks I’ll chronicle what this experience has been like. I know you know me as a writer, and likely I came to you and you to me during the height of the pandemic when I wrote about gaslighting and the oncoming campaign to get us all to go back to normal. Before that watershed moment in my writing career, I was a first-time film director who just wanted a platform to tell stories — fun, funny, smart stories, and ones that come from a truly personal place.
As 2020 winds to a close, it has been a year of darkness, only seldomly punctuated by light. The light of this project has sustained me this year, and it has taught me this: if our nightmares can come true, so ought our dreams.
With deep gratitude and love,
Julio Vincent Gambuto