Writer, Director & Producer
Writer/Director/Producer Nathan Catucci recently completed his debut feature film Impossible Monsters, a psychological thriller starring Tony Award nominee Santino Fontana (star of the highly anticipated Broadway production of Tootsie, Disney’s Frozen), Natalie Knepp, Devika Bhise, Donall O Healai, Geoffrey Owens (The Cosby Show), Dennis Boutsikaris (Better Call Saul), and Laila Robins (Homeland). Catucci was awarded the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for the project.
For previous work, he has premiered at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, was awarded a Certificate of Merit for Cinematic Excellence from the Rochester International Film Festival, was selected for the New York State Emerging Filmmakers Series, and has served on a script-writing panel at the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s ScriptBiz.
He’s currently in development on his next feature film The Bikeriders and holds a B.F.A. in film and TV from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he graduated with honors.
What is your film about?
“Impossible Monsters” is a psychological thriller about Dr. Rich Freeman (Santino Fontana), an ambitious and well-liked psychology professor, pursues a sleep study with a focus on nightmares, dreams, and sleep paralysis — the success of which would result in a lucrative grant. As the line between dreams and reality blur, a member of the study is murdered, and everything begins to unravel, leaving Rich fighting to make things right. We’re playing a lot with dreams vs. reality throughout the film. This is ultimately what makes it a fun, perplexing and sometimes intense experience for audience members.
Why did you make your film?
I was always fascinated by dreams and nightmares, our perception of reality, and how they relate to specific moments in our lives. The moment we wake up, however brief, requires us to define what was real and what was a dream. Often these moments are merely disorienting, but sometimes, they’re terrifying. In high school, there was a period of time where I suffered from sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis happens upon falling asleep and waking up while we are in REM sleep. Victims will sense a presence in the room, have trouble breathing, sometimes see and/or hear things. This can last moments or minutes, and when it’s over – there’s nothing there. What makes it terrifying, is because we are in REM sleep we’re conscious of what is happening, it’s as if the dream and nightmare worlds cross over into reality. As a teenager, I had no idea what sleep paralysis was. It was terrifying and at the time, because I didn’t understand what was happening, I thought that there was something really wrong with me. It wasn’t until college that I discovered what sleep paralysis was, and began exploring the science of dreams through art, mainly Henry Fuseli’s painting “The Nightmare” and Francisco de Goya’s etching “The Sleep of Reason.”
How did you choose to be a filmmaker?
I always enjoyed movies growing up, I watched everything, and although I didn’t own a camera, I often acted out what I watched in my backyard – full costume and all. But what I think I really love about movies, is the experience of going to the theater with friends and family – I can remember very specific experiences going all the way back to my childhood. I took a film study class my senior year of high school – it was a great class. It started out watching Thomas Edison’s films at the Black Maria Studio and went through the history of cinema up through the French and American New Wave. The class culminated in creating a short film – we wrote a story, created a storyboard, and then shot it and edited it. It was during this class that I realized that filmmaking could potentially be a career.
What advice to you have for anyone that is inspired by you?
Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from doing something you want.
What should anyone try at least once?
Take a risk and make yourself uncomfortable.