The story of the Zaccardelli's quest for the American dream is one fortified with generations of demonstrated persistence and determination. Ilvio Zaccardelli is one of five brothers born in the small village of Goriano Sicoli in southern Abruzzo. He and the rest of his siblings followed the lead of their uncle, Guglielmo Zaccardelli, who came to the United States shortly after World War II. He sent portions of his paycheck back to the family in Goriano Sicoli until they had enough saved for passage by boat to their new home in America. They arrived with just the clothes on their backs and young Ilvio marveled at this incredible new world.
The family found their way to Cleveland (from New York) because they had heard about an abundance of jobs there. Ilvio, who was 11 at the time, spoke only Italian when he first arrived, but totally immersed himself into the culture. He wanted to be American and he worked hard to learn the language from an early age.
The Zaccardellis settled in the West 33rd and Clark neighborhood and Ilvio attended St. Rocco School. He went on to play quarterback for John Carroll University and entered the U.S. Air Force in 1969. He attended Nebraska University via the Air Force's "Bootstrap Program" (a leave of absence program that allows enlisted service people to attend college, full time for up to 2 years while in the service). At Nebraska he became the placekicker for the football team. A five-year stint in the Air Force kept him in the Omaha, Nebraska area where he met his future wife, Elenh.
They were married in Omaha, and moved back to Cleveland when Ilvio was hired by Motorola. The couple had three children.
Their middle child, Quintino, is in many ways, a 'chip off the old block'. He was a good athlete in high school with a strong aptitude for math and science. His first inclination was to attend the University of Toledo in their Pharmaceutical Studies program but opted instead to enlist in the Air Force, like his father; though a medical condition precluded his admission and he began work for the Lucarelli family at Minuteman Staffing. His math ability and strong people skills helped him make significant contributions to the company during his tenure with them, though a yearning to serve his country in combination with a medical clearance led him back to the Air Force where he assumed a role as a bioenvironmental engineering technician.
A growing interest in theater and film and a strong friendship with an ex-marine who was an exceptional writer, led Quintino to his first experience in film production. The movie called "Treason's Path" was produced entirely in Northeast Ohio. His friend, Will Welty, delivered an exceptional screenplay though, Zaccardelli notes, "I learned what not to do regarding film production while making this movie. We had great actors and a wonderful script, but it really didn't work out," he laughed. Quintino and Welty financed the entire project including the purchase of one of the first commercial digital movie cameras. "I definitely learned a great deal from a rough experience, and it made me a better producer," he said.
Zaccardelli decided to go back to school and attended Cleveland State University to study chemical engineering while continuing to pursue his passion of filmmaking. He satisfied that urge by making music videos. In the summer of 2006, Will Welty visited Cleveland and a chance meeting with Jack Pekar of American Media & Marketing set the stage for what might have been their big break: a major music video. Unfortunately, the evening of the big shoot, Jack had a heart attack and the project shut down overnight. The company folded soon thereafter and Zaccardelli took an unpaid internship with a company called Deep Water Films that also soon failed.
"American Media and Deep Water taught me a lot and I realized that there is a delicate bridge between creatives and financiers," said Quintino. "It's all about raising money and then balancing the creative product with the desires of those providing the money. Just because you bankroll a project with me doesn't mean you have control over how I produce the film," he said. "Filmmaking is a process. My science and math aptitude helps me address the process side of each project and my military training give me the structure I need to work within the creative framework and still maintain discipline," says Zaccardelli. "Believe me, that's not easy, but when you can do it - you have a winner."
Quintino's film experience includes roles on and off camera. He acted in "The Ultimate Autograph", "In Tune" and "On the North Coast" (directed by James Neyman) in 2012.
Returning to the production side in 2012, Zaccardelli produced concert footage for Rapper Juicy J ("Blue Dream & Lean") and Livemixtapes.com. His latest project, a short film, "The Deprogrammer" is in post-production and will be released in 2014.
"I don't do a lot of projects because I'm really selective about what I work on and where I spend my time," says Zaccardelli. He hinted at some very large projects that are in the works now that are drawing the attention of major studios.
"I'm also never 100% happy with the films I produce. But I truly strive for something that the majority will like and want to see more of," he adds. Indeed, persistence, determination and high standards are Zaccardelli family traits that will continue to serve this Cleveland-born film producer.
Photo Caption: Film Producer Quintino Zaccardelli (center) is surrounded by his family - father-Ilvio (left), sister-Lena, her daughter, Charlotte.