The first movie she saw in a theater was 2001 A space odyssey at 3 years old. She talked about it and the music so much her parents bought an LP of the soundtrack and played it to occupy her when they wanted alone time. Since then she has been obsessed with cinema and especially films with great music. Like many directors, Regina Banali began her career in front of the camera, appearing in over 50 film and television roles over two decades earning her chops on both ultra low budget movies and blockbusters. One of her first acting roles was as a mermaid in Steven Spielberg’s “Hook”. Her first feature as a director was the film “QUIET RIOT: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back” a rock documentary on the 80’s metal band Quiet Riot. An early pioneer of crowdfunding, she raised the seed money on Kickstarter in the summer of 2010, long before crowdfunding was a common funding strategy. The film was quickly acquired by the Showtime Network for a two-year license. “In The Blood” is her first narrative short and she wrote and directed it to pay tongue in cheek homage to the great spaghetti westerns of the ’60s and ’70s which in her opinion was the best period for films and music.
The inspiration for “In The Blood” comes from many places. First of all, I am a huge fan of spaghetti westerns. Sergio Leone is one of my favorite directors, and I have always felt that the 60s and 70s were the best decades for film and music. We were in Milan and I was watching a spaghetti western on tv in Italian. I had no idea what anyone was saying but I was mesmerized. That was the moment that first sparked “In The Blood”. I wrote the script, which was drawn from many spaghetti westerns I have seen and loved, and cast my husband Frankie as the dark and brooding villain Sartana. I was very excited and inspired as we started pre-production. We were looking forward to making this together.
Then we were hit with a curveball. Frankie was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. In the hospital I was crossing every one of our plans off our to-do list out loud and Frankie insisted we still make the film. He said he still wanted to ride off into that sunset. I think he didn’t want to take my project away from me. I didn’t see how we could do it, how I could focus on this in light of the battle we were in for his life. But after a few months and a lot of stress, I gathered my team and restructured the schedule. It was a two-day shoot but considering how time-consuming pre-pro is and the fact that I am Frankie’s caregiver the only way to move forward was to plan just day one of the shoot and do pre-pro on for that day while juggling hospitals, doctors, treatments and medications. We shot the first day and then booked day two a month out and spent the next month juggling that pre-pro with Frankie’s care. As draining as it was, having the creative outlet saved my sanity.
Frankie was such a trooper during production. You can’t tell in the final cut but he could hardly walk by day two of production. Holding up his gun was difficult for more than a few seconds. Our lead actress Tal is a superstar. She reminded me of a young Rachel Welch or Claudia Cardinale. She is so much more than a pretty face, she is a powerhouse actress. She embodied the 60’s bombshell and absolutely killed it as Dolores. Everyone in the cast, the crew, and the location managers went the extra mile to bring “In The Blood” to life…and after many rounds of chemo, Frankie is much better. The six months prognosis is out the window. It has been eight months and his tumors are shrinking. He’s back to living his life and we are adjusting to our new normal. I hope you enjoy “In The Blood”, our labor of love, in the spirit in which it is intended.