Name: Thomas Marchese – The Fallen Project
On 3-19-17, Detective L.O. interviewed subject Thomas Marchese of The Fallen Project in regards to the upcoming film, Fallen. The following are the results of this Detectives investigation:
Q: What department do/did you work for and for how long? Name others involved in the film and their work in law enforcement.
A: I began my career with the Pacific Grove Police Department in 2001, but worked the bulk of my career (12 years) for the Soledad Police Department in Central California. I was promoted to Sergeant in 2007, served as a tactical team leader, a narcotics expert, and worked as a homicide detective for 5 years. I was Officer of the Year for my department in both 2005 & 2006, and was named Officer of the Year for all of Monterey County in 2013. I was awarded two Award of Merit medals for service above and beyond, one Distinguished Service medal for saving a life, as well as a Purple Heart for having nearly lost my life in the field. 3 years into making the film, I was stabbed multiple times while responding to an in-progress double homicide. As a result of my injuries, I was forced to medically retire in 2016.
Wuthipong “Tank” Tantaksinanukij is a Corporal with the Austin Police Department and has been a sworn officer for over 22 years. He is a certified police instructor and is currently assigned to Special Operations Command – Air Support Unit. He is a graduate of the prestigious leadership program of the LAPD West Point Leadership Academy.
Brenda Strong is an accomplished & talented actor/producer with an extensive list of credits, including DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, DALLAS, STARSHIP TROOPERS, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, SUPERGIRL, and the list goes on…
Q: What made you choose police work?
A: Since I was a kid, I just always had that desire to be a super hero, help people and fight bad guys. I think it was that simple. It’s the only real-world way to wear an emblem on your chest, strap on a utility belt, and go save the world.
Q: Any family or close friends in law enforcement that inspired you?
A: I always had a great relationship with local law enforcement in my small town, but didn’t have any family or close friends in law enforcement.
Q: Why did you choose film?
A: I had been a still photographer for a long time, and have always loved cinematic imagery. I slowly started learning cinematography, and, later, the language of film making, which is much different than telling a story with a single frame. I was fortunate enough to make some amazing contacts in the industry and before I knew it, I kind of had a parallel career. I made a 17 minute short film several years ago that played in quite a few film festivals and was really well received. Then, my first real “industry” gig was in 2014. I was fortunate enough to be asked to produce and edit an amazing short film called “I Did Not Forget You.” That film has gone on to be extremely successful, playing across the country and racking up multiple awards. I was 3 years into shooting Fallen and had taken a few weeks of vacation to go to Texas to shoot that short.
Q: Without spoilers, can you describe the film’s premise?
A: FALLEN basically pulls back the curtain in a way the public has never really seen, to show the humanity of the job. It not only tells the stories of fallen officers, but it touches on public perception as contrasted with the reality of the job. And being that it was made by cops, we were able to get access not normally granted to either the press or filmmakers. That being said, with everything that’s happened over the past few years politically, the film’s only real message is that the men and women who put on that badge every day are just people. People that operate daily under immeasurable pressure and impossible expectation.
Q: How has the law enforcement response been to your venture?
A: The law enforcement response to the project has been amazing. We have incredible partners from coast to coast who have helped make this movie possible. The biggest challenge from day one has been getting the word out about what we are doing. Once people find out about it, they are on board. It’s actually reaching everyone that is difficult.
The response to Michael Chiklis coming on board to narrate the film has been overwhelmingly positive. Most cops, myself included, were huge fans of The Shield, and we were ridiculously lucky to get him to come on board. He really elevated the project, and he has been amazing. And politics aside, he just really believes the message of the film is important.
Q: What are your hopes going forward?
A: I have a lot of hopes for the film, but honestly, I just have to look at each tiny goal that’s in front of me. The first goal was to say something, and hopefully educate and open some eyes. Secondly, and really the ultimate goal, was to make a Hollywood caliber feature documentary film on 5% of a Hollywood budget. Employing baby steps, and 5 years later, I think we have done that. Now my goal is to get in front of people, so I will be spending every waking minute trying to keep the train moving financially and get people into the theater to see it. The more people come out to see it, the more people will keep getting to see it.
We are having the world premiere on April 7th at the Phoenix Film Festival. Then we are having a big premiere event screening on May 15th in DC, on Police Memorial Day. Tickets to both screenings can be purchased on the website www.FallenProject.com.
Q: Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Answer very carefully!
A: I gotta to go with Brady. He and Chiklis are good friends, so I have to show some loyalty.
Evidence photos on file….