Matthew Gentile and Kristoffer Polaha Crossing Paths at WME-NYC Helped to Bring Frontman to Life

Matthew Gentile and Kristoffer Polaha met through the William Morris Endeavor (WME) Agency in New York City when Gentile was a floater handing auditions for WME’s clients including Polaha.

Matthew Gentile with Kristoffer Polaha.
Matthew Gentile with Kristoffer Polaha.

“One day when I was putting him on tape, I started moving around the lights and he asked me if I was into directing and I told him I was,” Gentile said.  The Brooklyn native learned more about how deals are made, how scripts are produced, how actors behave, how films go through the ringer, and had Danie Streisand as his mentor.  At WME-NYC, Gentile eventually became their permanent talent assistant in the motion picture talent department before moving to Los Angeles to study directing at the American Film Institute (AFI).

Matthew Gentile shooting a scene of Kristoffer Polaha (Jodie King).
Matthew Gentile shooting a scene of Kristoffer Polaha (Jodie King).

A year went by, and Gentile wrote the script for Frontman to make Polaha fit for the 40-year-old rock star as part of his Master’s thesis in directing at the AFI.  “I had a script about a 70-year-old rock star, but I re-wrote it and made him 40 – that was how bad I wanted to work with him,” Gentile said.  See the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/139660696

Matthew Gentile as himself. Unless noted, all photos are courtesy of Matthew Gentile.
Matthew Gentile as himself.

In Frontman, there’s rock and roll, fantasy dream images, a touching father daughter relationship as the main theme, and some celebrity elements.  Recently, this film was selected as semifinalist with the Student Academy Awards as part of the top five percent category.  This film also has been accepted for entry into eight film festivals in three different countries, and it’s currently in submission to many more.

On set for the Frontman: Todd Sheridan, Ted von Bevern, and Matthew Gentile. Gentile is directing the scene.
On set for the Frontman: Todd Sheridan, Ted von Bevern, and Matthew Gentile. Gentile is directing the scene.

“To me, the movie is about the sacrifices we make for fame, so the word Frontman has a meaning to me of the lead singers in the band who take the credit and have the charisma and charm to carry that, which is a rare gift,” Gentile said.

On set filming Frontman. From left--Mary Shellogg, Todd Sheridan, Matthew Gentile, Jason Allen, and Craig Boydston.
On set filming Frontman. From left–Mary Shellogg, Todd Sheridan, Matthew Gentile, Jason Allen, and Craig Boydston.

Alex Dew (producer), Todd Sheridan (cinematographer), Corey Wilcosky (writer), Dennis James Clarke (story editor), Noelle Irene Cruce (editor), and Andy Siara (original concept) all were part of the film crew for this film.  Cast includes Emily Tremaine, McKaley Miller, Robin Thomas, and Mikaela Hoover.

Underwater scuba filming for the pool scene with Justin Ivan, Matthew Gentile and Kristoffer Polaha. Photo: Courtesy of Alex Dew.
Underwater scuba filming for the pool scene with Justin Ivan, Matthew Gentile and Kristoffer Polaha. Photo: Courtesy of Alex Dew.

“I’ve always been intrigued, for whatever reason, by self-destructive males,” Gentile said.  “Our society has an incredible way of building people up to be ‘heroes’ only to break them back down when we realize they are only human and are imperfect, so with Frontman, I was trying to explore a character who was rich and famous and in a sense had it all but beneath the facade was hurting for something much greater.”

Frontman poster.
Frontman poster.

In this film, you’d observe the journey of a famous rock star, Jodie King, (played by Kristoffer Polaha), who loses his hearing and how this experience helps him realize what is important in his life.  While playing the character of Jodie, Polaha shares that Ludwig van Beethoven, a composer and pianist legend, came to mind.  Beethoven lost his hearing during his adult years as a musician, but he still produced famous works.

Matthew Gentile directing actors Kristoffer Polaha and Thomas Grossman during filming of the Frontman film.
Matthew Gentile directing actors Kristoffer Polaha and Thomas Grossman during filming of the Frontman film.

“After Beethoven became deaf, he wrote Ode to Joy,” Polaha said, calling this as one of Beethoven’s greatest works. “When Jodie lost his hearing, he had to make the decision about walking away from music, and this is what makes the film so compelling.”

Filming the on-stage scene. From left: David DiVona, Anthony Nino Salazar, Kristoffer Polaha, and Matthew Gentile.
Filming the on-stage scene. From left: David DiVona, Anthony Nino Salazar, Kristoffer Polaha, and Matthew Gentile.
Gentile is developing his first feature, Assist, which is expected to shoot in Spring 2016. He is also currently directing multiple episodes of unscripted television for Proven Entertainment (founded by Emmy-winning producers Conrad Ricketts and David DiVona), a webseries “Gentlemen Ballers” with fellow AFI students, and two music videos in pre-production.

Frontman will PREMIERE at AFI on September 26th, 2015 at 7 PM.

Free admission to the general public.
The Mark Goodson Screening Room
2021 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Jodie King's show. Photo: Courtesy of Alex Dew.
Jodie King’s show. Photo: Courtesy of Alex Dew.

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