Meet the Film Brothers
photographs by Ron Dubick
The logo on the storefront window of the Film Brothers Movie Co-op silhouettes two men: one with a lean profile and short curly hair, the other in a baseball cap with a curved bill facing front, old school style. But in meet-ups around town, posts all over social media, and on the other end of a hundred phone calls to promote an upcoming co-op event, Film Brothers is clearly synonymous with the curly-haired guy: Gordon DelGiorno.
The 44-year old Wilmington native—lanky, energetic, and constantly on the go-go-go—readily acknowledges that he has been the Film Brothers front man since the sibling duo made their first comedy 12 years ago. And for the last two years, Gordon DelGiorno has been the sole driver behind the re-tooled event, promotion and commercial video production work that is the bulk of what Film Brothers does today.
Still, the guy in the baseball cap belongs on the storefront, he says of his brother Greg DelGiorno, 42.
Why? Lots of reasons, says Gordon DelGiorno. It is loyalty: The partnership is where Film Brothers got its start. It is reality: The siblings still make films together —in fact, Greg DelGiorno recently completed a comedy script for “Sebastian Cooper, Private Eye,” that they plan to shoot under Film Brothers this winter.
And it is something intangible.
“There is something Gordon gets with me that he can’t get from anyone else on the planet,” says Greg DelGiorno during a quiet, one-on-one interview in his antique and used furniture warehouse on the outskirts of Wilmington. “When we are together, we are in synch. We feed off of each other. We keep topping each other back and forth. The creative juices are flowing.”
It’s not like they’re two peas in a pod: Gordon DelGiorno married later, at 39, and had his first child with wife Cindy at 43. Greg DelGiorno has been with Christine since he was 17, and the couple had their first of two children when he was 21.
The elder brother roamed the country, doing stints in New York, California and Atlanta, before returning home with fantastic stories about hanging out with TV producer Michael Brod, concocting a spur-of-the-moment plan to hock Olympic Games merchandise for a cool profit days before going obsolete, and being the best man in Ed McMahon’s wedding. The younger has remained steadily rooted in his hometown since birth. The first thrives on social interaction, the second is at his best thinking up scripts and story lines —away from the hubbub.
If they were parts of a boat, one would be the steam engine pushing it forward, the other would be the anchor, tying it to safe harbor, Greg DelGiorno says.
Still, when they get together, the energy of the tête-à-tête is like a spontaneous improv show, says Gordon DelGiorno. “Everyone says comedy timing is hard, but it comes naturally with Greg and me.”
It’s been like that as long as they can remember, and like many others in the business of funny, the DelGiornos’ say they developed it during childhood to cope with a tough upbringing.
Learning Laughs & Loyalty
The boys and their younger brother, Chris DelGiorno, were born in Wilmington’s Little Italy over a four-year period to Gordon D. DelGiorno and Lorraine Cintron, who owned DelGiorno’s House of Sandwiches. The couple divorced when the boys were 7, 5 and 3 respectively, and closed the business soon thereafter. Daily life turned unstable and difficult at times, the brothers agree. They moved five times and attended six schools in nine years.
“It seemed like I was always trying to survive the day,” says Gordon DelGiorno. “We were always the new kids on the block, always getting pushed around by neighborhood punks. It was the school of hard knocks, for sure.”
But the adversity bonded the family together, says Greg DelGiorno.
“When the chips were down, it was the three of us brothers,” he says. “We’d back each other up even if the other was wrong. When I was a little kid, I’d call in Gordon, and he’d defend me no matter what.”
It also birthed a habit of comedic tête-à-tête that became a hallmark of Gordon and Greg DelGiorno.
In those days, Cintron often worked late nights as a kitchen manager at
Gallucio’s Restaurant and Pub, and alone in the house, the two boys would entertain each other with silly skits made up on the spot and re-enactments of sitcom scenes. Sometimes they’d record the skits on an old tape recorder and replay the scene for their mom later.
“The boys were such a crack, they made me laugh so hard. I loved to see them do their thing,” says Cintron. So she encouraged it, often putting them up to performing impromptu at frequent extended family gatherings.
Back then, neither one thought of their childhood games as precursors to blocking a scene or crafting dialogue for a real movie. But with little more experience than that and Gordon DelGiorno’s brief informal introduction to filmmaking in the late 1990s as he helped out on a set that was being shot locally, something clicked.
“We saw how big pioneer indie filmmaker Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks’ made it and we said, ‘We could do something funnier,’” Gordon DelGiorno says. And the rest is history.
“We didn’t always agree, but there was something we had,” says Greg DelGiorno. “I guess it’s just a brothers’ relationship. Except that we’re making movies. How many brothers out there are doing that?”