There are moments in history that certain individuals have been judged by our respected justice system and found guilty or innocent. We live and breathe by the laws that govern us yet there are times that these very laws are the ones that bury us. One such historical moment in the judicial system did this action actually occur and was allowed to flounder.
The saga began in the early 1960’s when a brazen bank robbery by a group of drugged up thugs planted the seed to the destruction of one man’s life. That one man was John “Sonny” Franzese, a man who carried certain power unknown to the average citizen. He was known as a powerful mobster to many and granted as it may he was not a bank robber.
It all unfolded on that fateful day in March of 1967 when he was convicted of orchestrating a string of bank robberies through a group of low-level thugs. He went on to serve 2 consecutive 25 year terms behind bars for a crime it turned out he never committed.
Not until now has there ever been any media divulging the truth behind the lies that landed John “Sonny Franzese in jail. Director/ Producer Chris Selletti has decided to tackle this sensational case through a film he entitled “Framed”. A native Long Islander, Chris has been in the film business for many years using his knowledge to develop music videos. He even worked with artists like Sly & The Family Stone and others.
Yet currently he has focused on this amazing story of how the “ends justified the means”. He had connected with Tina Franzese the wife of John “Sonny” Franzese for permission to expose the truth through this project. Tina was more than all for it and devoted her time and knowledge to guiding Chris through the torturous years she dealt with on the case.
Chris first began his career in music videos with friend and partner Ken Kutshner. They worked on music videos like “Got A Man” by Eve and with groups like Wu-Tang. Following the music videos Chris changed careers and went into the medical business. But his heart was tugging at him to return to what he loved doing most, entertaining people.
When he was involved in music videos he had the opportunity to incorporate certain film techniques to improve the quality of the videos. He admits that the video experience was very helpful to him especially when he collaborated with many other artists.
“I like the creative end of filmmaking I enjoy the editing process.”
On the recent film which is due to bring a lot of controversy, “Framed”, Chris not only was the director but also was in charge of the casting. Also aiding Chris on the project was JT Talent & Casting located in Manhattan. They currently have shot twenty hours worth of film around the story and completed an eight minute trailer. The trailer recently premiered at Anthology Theatre in Manhattan to a packed house. The premiere not only attracted “mob buffs” but award winning writers Jerry Capeci and Tom Robbins.
The film chronicles the bank robberies that took place in 1965 and the trial of John “Sonny” Franzese. Chris was friends with John and Tina for quite some time. He felt that the case shed some light on the injustice that sometimes takes place in American courtrooms. It was a case that needed to be investigated and what better way than through one of America’s major pastimes, the movies.
For Chris he has had first hand experience with dealing with the justice system and how it has backfired on him. Since that being the case he was very drawn into putting his heart into exposing the truth in this film. He acquired court records from the 1965 case and testimonies of many people and published articles that indicate that Sonny was truly framed. Chris even went on to quote Sonny as saying; “If you’re going to be
a judge be a good judge. If you’re going to be a prosecutor be a good one. Don’t be a hypocrite. If I did a crime then prosecute me for that crime not for one I did not do.”
He did a lot of research to cast the film searching to find the correct individuals to play these pivotal roles. They ran three days of casting. The most important role was the one of John Franzese. He found Ken Stafford an actor that not only shares a resemblance to Sonny but has the talent to pull it off. Ken was offered the role due to his appearance and his experience as an actor.