Fredericton — Filmmakers from all over New Brunswick celebrated the biggest successes of their year at the annual Silver Wave Film Festival last weekend, but it wasn’t a success story for everyone. Toni DaRussio, a self-styled Hollywood producer, submitted the culmination of his life’s work, Mayhem Beach, to the festival. His film was accepted and shown on Friday, but in true Hollywood fashion, the film was promptly bootlegged and leaked online here:
To add insult to injury, DaRussio was kicked out of the hotel where he hosted an after-party for the local filmmakers, who he claims turned their nose up at his hospitality and alcohol selection.
“I’m a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I put myself out there for these New Brunswick artists, and they treat me like I’m a snob because of where I’m from,” complained DaRussio at the Fredericton International Airport on Tuesday. “I’m heading back to Hollywood to salvage what’s left of my career and finances.”
DaRussio, however, is no angel. Contrary to what he would have us believe, the big-shot producer struggles with alcoholism, as evidenced by this photo captured at the festival:
For years, rumours of underground dealings with local crime syndicates have circulated DaRussio’s productions, whose funding sources remain a mystery to this day. DaRussio addressed the rumour-mongers in his speech at Silver Wave:
Apparently nobody believed him, with DaRussio claiming that one of the competing independent production companies in town bought all the domain names relating to his own company, Dreamboat Pictures, purely out of spite.
DaRussio claims that his unknown nemeses’ motivations are spite and jealousy, but the aforementioned after-party was a questionable affair. Undercover Manatee reporters entered to find people swilling hemp vodka, gin and wine, movies of shirtless women on fast boats playing on the television, and filmmakers entering and exiting faster than a McDonald’s drive-thru upon seeing the crowd and the seedy atmosphere.
Sussex filmmaker Brett Hudson said that while DaRussio seems like a nice person, there’s something intrinsically untrustworthy about him. “Sure, he gave me free booze all night and shook my hand. But the thing is, he wore these sunglasses the whole time, so you could never really look him in the eye. His movie was well-done and entertaining, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something off about him, something non-New Brunswick,” elaborated Hudson.
Say what you will about DaRussio’s ethics and company, but it’s undeniable that he knows the ins and outs, rights and legalities of filmmaking and finding an audience: