Homegrown: The next generation of filmmakers

Posted 5/2/24

There’s a new generation of film producers emerging in Rhode Island.

They will be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood, New York and the global film industry in general.

We always …

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Homegrown: The next generation of filmmakers


There’s a new generation of film producers emerging in Rhode Island.

They will be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood, New York and the global film industry in general.

We always knew that the center of the universe was Rhode Island.   You may not have known that we are the center of some great things about to happen in film production as well. 

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Farrelly Brothers (Screen Writers and Actors), originated such classic films as “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary” right here in Rhode Island.

Starting in 2008, Chad A. Verdi paved the way with the complete production of feature films such as “Bleed for This”, the biographical full-length feature film based on the life of our own World Boxing Champ Vinny Pazienza, played by actor Miles Teller, and more recently the blockbuster film “The Irishman”, directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.  One of the five films that Chad teamed with Scorsese to date. 

Now, the next generation has stepped behind the cameras:  Chad Verdi, Jr. and his business partner and pal, Paul Luba.

Chad, Jr., who grew up in East Greenwich, graduated from LaSalle Academy in Providence in 2013, and later attended the University of Colorado, graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a minor in History.

Paul, who grew up in Warwick, graduated from the Moses Brown School in Providence in 2012, and later attended Connecticut College, where he majored in Government, graduating in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree.

The two would be linked by their love for movie production, and ultimately by the now globally recognized Verdi Productions, founded of course by Chad Jr’s father Chad A. Verdi.

A “family business” in every sense of the word, Chad A. Verdi was determined to keep the company headquartered in Rhode Island, with additional production facilities in Edgartown, Massachusetts and satellite offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

You won’t have to look far to find other members of the Verdi family hard at work for the company, past and present.

Michelle Verdi, (Chad Jr’s mom) is the Music and Talent Supervisor, and in past years, his uncle Thomas Verdi (formerly Deputy Chief of Police for the Providence Police Department and currently Director of the RI Department of Revenue), served as an Executive Producer. 

The two young men’s time spent at Verdi Productions has been a unique tutorial on every aspect of the film business, from pre-production through principal photography, and on to post- production. 

Making a full-length feature film isn’t what it used to be.

There are so many barriers to overcome in such a relatively short period of time, that it takes a small army of individuals (and a ton of money) to compete with the best that Hollywood has to offer.

Certainly not an industry for the feint of heart, as the risk involved in making even a low budget independent film could cost between $1 million and $3 million, (the blockbusters could go into the hundreds of millions), much of which comes from private equity, as well as a variety of other sources like debt financing and (limited) bank bonding.  Investors, like in any business, are at risk, and there are as many failures as there are success stories. 

Location is at the top of the list when it comes to decision making.

The Verdi family’s roots in Rhode Island help to bust through those barriers.

Why in Rhode Island?

Asked why they continue to film in our great state, Chad Jr quickly answers, “Rhode Island is competitive with California and New York.”   Paul readily agreed and added, “Rhode Island offers a very solid tax credit.   Every dollar we spend, we receive a 30% tax credit.   That important incentive can go towards our crew, hotels, actors --- everything.” 

Asked about how many people are normally hired on one of these feature films, Chad Jr answered, “Pre-production starts about three to six months before principal photography, where we need about 20 people.   When principal photography starts, we hire as many as 150 people for that one and one half to two-month period.   After that, we go into post-production, where we need 20 or so people.   So, I guess you could say that we hire 150 to 200 people during those nine months to a year.” 

And the two men are not shy about trying to use people from Rhode Island in that wide array of professional and non-professional, union and non-union positions.

Paul explained, “we do like using people from our state.   Chad and I have been here our whole lives. We want to help people achieve their dreams.   We are trying to help build a dynamic film industry in Rhode Island, and help people grown with us.” 

And grow it is. 

Verdi Films, that released the hit film “Johnny & Clyde” starring Megan Fox in 2023, and earlier this year released “Junction” starring Sophia Bush (both shot in Rhode Island), has already shot 4 films since January, and will commence production for a film in September, as well as a Lifetime Network movie in November.

Not to rest on their laurels at Verdi Productions where both men are Executive Producers, the two friends and partners started their own production companies:  Chad Jr formed “Hyperborea Films”, and Paul started “LaSalle Productions”, both Rhode Island corporations.

Of course, it is total collaboration between the two.

Paul explained, “We partner to do 4 or 5 films per year.   At the end of this year, however, it will be 6 or 7 films.” 

I don’t know about you, but I had no clue as to what movie extras or SAG (Screen Actors Guild) actors made to shoot a movie.

Chad Jr explained, “The basic SAG rate can range from a low of about $250 to $300 per day upward.  It depends.” 

(If you are wondering how you can belong to SAG, they explained that you are eligible to join if you appear in 3 movies or documentaries).

Chad Jr continued, “Most people start out as an intern, which requires no professional training.   To be an actor normally requires auditions.  Local actors work with us all the time.” 

There are big things planned for Verdi Productions.   Just as Chad A. Verdi “paved the way” for these two up-and-coming filmmakers, they hope to do the same for the next generation.

With three major motion pictures about to hit the screen this year; “Junction”, “Knockout Blonde” and “Chosen Family”, shot in Rhode Island and starring Heather Graham and Julia Stiles, there is also high expectations that Verdi Productions, who have a great relationship with Martin Scorsese, will continue to do more projects with him in the future.

Chad Jr and Paul have some big plans for their own production companies as well, but the one common denominator is their belief and dedication to our great state. 

Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film and TV Office (whom both men offered high praise for) recently interviewed Chad Jr and Paul on his PBS show, “Double Feature”. 

After the enlightening and enjoyable interview, Steve offered his thanks and encouragement to Chad Jr and Paul, and cited their “dedication and passion and professionalism, for helping to make the next generation of Rhode Island filmmakers and those that want to be in the industry have opportunities” and called the two young men “Rhode Island treasures.” 

Couldn’t say it better than a pro like Steve.

If you ever thought of sticking your toe in Rhode Island’s flourishing film industry, write to Chad Jr and Paul at:  info@verdifilms.com.

Who knows where it can take you.

Update received from Chad on June 18, 2024:

I wanted to share the link to an article that was just published in Italy announcing our partnership with Martin Scorsese and his team on an upcoming documentary. I thought you guys might find it interesting and want to publish it as well!
Here is the link to an announcement made today in Sicily Italy that Verdi Productions is producing:
English Translation:
A new documentary film being Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese about ancient shipwrecks will be filmed in Sicily. Based on the ongoing work of underwater archaeologist Dr. Lisa Briggs, a research fellow of Cranfield University and visiting researcher at the British Museum, this film will be a co-production with the ‘Assessorato ai Beni Culturali della Regione Siciliana’ (the Cultural Heritage Department of the Sicilian Region)  and Sikelia Productions and Sunk Costs Productions, Chad Verdi, and LBI Entertainment. The documentary aims to narrate the history of the island through the stories of ancient shipwrecks.
The filming locations will include the beach of Marausa, where a newly discovered ancient shipwreck "Marausa 2" is currently under excavation, the archaeological park of "Selinunte, Cave di Cusa e Pantelleria," and "Marsala-Lilibeo." Additional locations may include the museum of the Dancing Satyr in Mazara del Vallo, the Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum in Trapani, and the Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo. Other locations featured will be the Tonnara of Favignana, the island of Mozia, Erice, and several Greek temples on the island. The maritime and underwater aspects of the documentary will involve collaboration with the Maritime Superintendent.
"We have welcomed this initiative by providing access to all the relevant sites, archaeological parks, and museums under the jurisdiction of the department. This is due to the high cultural significance of the project and the tremendous value it brings to Sicily and its cultural heritage," says Assessor Francesco Paolo Scarpinato.
Our credits on this documentary include:
Verdi Productions presents
Chad A. Verdi Producer
Executive Producers: Michelle Verdi, Chad Verdi Jr, Paul Luba 
Co-Producer: Sera Verdi
Let me know if you have any questions and enjoy your summer!
Mike, film, producers


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