PHILADELPHIA -- If you were under the Market Frankford El last summer watching a bunch of people who claimed to be shooting a movie, it's confirmed -- they really were shooting a movie. It's the ultra low-budget "Between Wars," available to stream this week, co-starring Michael Imperioli of "The Sopranos."
Rapper Boskoe 100 and Harley Flanagan, front man for hardcore rock band the Cro-Mags, also have roles in the movie.
"Between Wars" is the passion project of New Yorker Tom Phillips, who shot half the movie in Philadelphia because he needed a place to shoot without permits with locations that could substitute for the Bronx, and because some of his cast members and collaborators were Philly people.
That includes lead actor Shaun Paul Costello, who plays Franny Malloy, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who comes home with PTSD and has trouble making ends meet.
He is drawn into the world of illegal underground UFC matches, to the chagrin of his VA counselor (Imperioli) who is trying to get Malloy to get his life in order, and to break the bad habits that keep getting him into trouble.
The movie may remind you a little bit of "Warrior," which was set in Philadelphia and filmed elsewhere (payback!), and also of "The Town," which Phillips said was "definitely an influence."
Mostly, though, it's based on "every crazy neighborhood I grew up in," in the New York metropolitan area.
Draconian New York requires permits to shoot almost everywhere, though, so Phillips shot half his movie last summer in various neighborhoods of laissez-faire Philadelphia.
"If you're not shooting in (Center City), you don't need permits. At least that's what we were told. I hope it's true. Anyway, that's what we did," Phillips said.
He drove around with his crew looking for places that were Bronx-like. The elevated train was essential, and Fishtown/Kensington was perfect.