George Nottoli, aka, Vito “Two Fingers” Fontaine, is a regular guy extraordinaire. Family man, rocker, pro wrestler, stunt man, Sausage King of Chicago—George is a force to be reckoned with. This film follows George as he tells his inspirational story of an Everyman for our day. It also gives an inside look at the world of pro wrestling, where the more you like someone the harder you hit ‘em.
Produced by: Scott Baehrend
Cast: George Nottoli, Windy City Proffesional Wrestling
10 questions with Two Fingers, The Windy City Wonder director, Scott Baehrend at the half-way mark.
Monday, April 25th, 2016
1Hi Scott! Thanks for being a part of our spring festival. First, can you tell me how you met George Nottoli, aka, “Two Fingers” and what was it about him that made you want to make a doc ? I had heard the story of the "Sausage King" from a friend of mine. He told me how George , after taking over the sausage business, walked around town wearing a cape and a crown, carrying a pigs head on a staff. He walked over to the local bank in his get-up to get his picture taken for "picture day". He was also a professional wrestler who beats people with a rubber chicken. All very intriguing and, frankly, hilarious to me. At first, I started making a short piece that I planned to name, "The Adventures of the Sausage King". When I started filming, I had so much fun just hanging with George learning about the world of wrestling. As I continued filming, I realized that the short, comedic story that I originally intended was just not enough to capture the story that I eventually ended up wanted to tell, so that is why we ended up with a longer documentary-style film. It really helped that George was a natural actor. In fact, George and I had actually met 10 years prior when George was wrestling for a commercial spot that I was crewing, I just did not know at that time that he was the "Sausage King".
2How big of a wrestling fan are you? What is it that you like about it or find fascinating and do you consider it a "real" sport? I had seen wrestling through the years and while I enjoyed it, I never really followed it. I was mesmerized by George watching his first match - he had an amazing talent. His story-telling is reminiscent of the old school wrestlers and he could really work the crowd. That's something you can't teach. He has a charisma that draws people to him. George exudes charisma not only in the ring, but in every aspect of his life. He is a guy that you want to grab a beer with and wait for whatever craziness might happen as it usually does.
If you question whether wrestling is a "real" sport, try going up against Vito, the Ripper Manson, or the Polish Crippler, get slammed through table, and then thrown out of the ring - then let me know if you think it is real.
3This is your first feature film. How did you know you were ready to make one and had you made short films before this? I made a few films prior to this. One of these films, "The Restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Heurtley House", is currently available on amazon.com. I shot over 5 years of footage to document the restoration of one of Wright's masterpieces. Another film that I made, "Belly of Desire", is a comedy about a small, underground, sumo wrestler. The character was inspired by a real life sumo wrestler who was too short to reach the upper levels of sumo wrestling. He attempts to reach the height requirement by sewing a silicon implant to the top of his head. Tragically, his head never healed correctly and he would bleed all over and get migraine headaches. In my movie, the character has the same same drive to be a sumo, but the story is bit more uplifting and focuses on overcoming adversity. Lastly, Motorcycle Mama 1 and 2 were shorts that gave me somewhat of a cult following.
4George Nottoli seems like such a funny guy to be around. Can you share some memorable moments from the shoot? The most memorable moment from filming had to be for George's final match - talk about going into battle. After the match, we followed George to the dressing room - the raw emotion was palatable. Filming George's mother, Loretta, at the sausage shop was also quite memorable. Like most people not used to being on film, she was very nervous about doing an interview. So, before the "official" interview, we caught her and George talking on film without her knowing it, When she said she was ready to do the interview , we knew we had what we needed. It ended up being a very candid discussion between the two and it was one of the best parts of the movie. As always, the after- parties also make for great memories. The film screening at The Wire in Berwyn was a blow-out. More than 400 people watched the film, ate Nottoli sausage and rocked out to T-Bos. Oh, I forgot to tell you, George is in a band too .
5At the heart of this film is an inspiring story about a guy who completely reinvents himself at 35. It really shows that you're never too old to try something new. Was that the message you wanted to put in there or did it just happen by telling this story? The messsage was always there, I just had to find it. The film evolved from being a comedic short to a full-blown documentary on George. When I got my rough cut, I struggled with how to end the film. I wanted a rock and roll performance with George diving off the stage in slow motion, then a giant brawl or George riding on a big giant sausage float in a parade as he throws raw sausage to the crowd. To be true to the story though, I ended with George and his family, because no matter how much he re-invented himself, George was always a family man first.
6How long did it take you to make this film and how big was your crew? The film took about 8 years to finish - paid work got in the way. As for the crew, I had an assortment of people. I've worked in the film industry for 30 years and am still amazed at all my coworkers who are willing to lend a hand for a labor of love. Odd Machine Studios, a collective of film makers who support each other's projects, were a tremendous help with editing, shooting, and provided any other help they could offer. Ryan Freerksen also helped with editing and was truly instrumental in putting the film together by sifting through hours of footage with me to pull the story together.
7What would your wrestling name be? The "Bald Barron" - still working on my signature move.
8What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? Several films inspired me and include a wide spectrum ranging from Raging Bull to Rocky to Spinal Tap - I could go on and on. The digital revolution, however, was what really allowed me to realize my dream . When I started in the film business , shooting film was the only option, which was cost prohibitive for most independent film makers. Then the Sony VX1000 arrived on the scene. It democratized the film world . Now that everyone has access to the tools required to make films, you really had to be better at the craft and refine your skills as there are a lot more independent film makers.
9If you had to reinvent yourself tomorrow, what do you think you would do? I would have a fishing , motorcycle, food and travel adventure show. Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego. Life doesn't get any better than that.
10What's next? Shorts for now... Maybe another longer project...I have to scout some fishing locations and buy a new motorcycle first.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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