Mr. Hollywood Florida

With a little smoke, a few mirrors, and an ego big enough to reach California, Craig Marquardo wants to build his own movie-making empire in South Florida

Alosio owns the script to Wild Game, which he plans to produce and direct with Marquardo's financial help when he finishes his current project, a film called Dragonfly Jones. That film is billed to star In Living Color television actor Tommy Davidson.

It was Alosio who first sought out Seagal for the lead role in Wild Game. "I took Wild Game to private investors who knew [Craig] and recommended him. I met with Seagal. He said he was interested in doing the film. We now had some funding for the project, but we needed distribution -- that's a key in this business."

No matter how good the film may be, if it doesn't reach a lot of screens, it will disappear, he explains. So Alosio invited Marquardo to get in on the deal and to consider Seagal.

Dealmaker Craig Marquardo runs Fathom Motion Pictures from unpretentious offices in Hollywood, Florida
Joshua Prezant
Dealmaker Craig Marquardo runs Fathom Motion Pictures from unpretentious offices in Hollywood, Florida

"Craig has told me he can secure distribution, he can help put money in place, and he can guarantee top-named talent their fee," Alosio says.

Marquardo's knowledgeable pitch led Alosio to conclude that "he's really, really good on the telephone, one of the best. He always seems to know what he's talking about."

The opinion is echoed by Eric Baquero, Marquardo's financing partner and office mate at Parasol Films. "He's always on the phone with these top people in Hollywood [California]," he says, "people you can almost never get. He knows what he's doing."

At this point in the game, Marquardo says he works with producers who have proven themselves and, like Alosio, who already own the scripts or have selected them. "I don't have time to read 500 scripts and pick one," he says, "and their judgment might be better than mine anyway, since they get 'em through the studios, which have filtered out all the crap."

In the case of Wild Game, Alosio also did the filtering. He says he read about 200 scripts before deciding to buy this one, by a relatively unknown screenwriter named Peter Rocca.

The dealmaking in Hollywood, Florida, has captured the attention of two prominent trade publications in Hollywood, California, Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Producers and directors say that's a promising sign for Marquardo. In each, several Fathom projects are listed by name and producer. Daily Variety also reported that Marquardo's up-and-coming company is the title sponsor of the 15th annual Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, set to run from October 16 through November 2. According to a festival spokesman, Marquardo has already put up $20,000 of the $100,000 he promised.

Such notoriety has elicited hordes of applications from actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, and even music composers in Florida, New York, L.A., and elsewhere, all looking to break into the big time.

Two large file cabinets at Fathom contain nothing but introductory solicitations from people eager to make it in the business, especially actors. Marquardo can leaf through countless still photos of men and women posed glamorously. The photos come attached to résumés that often cite wide experience in local theater or school productions or bit work in movies and television.

"I can't do anything with these," Marquardo says. But that isn't entirely true. Every so often he'll set aside somebody's résumé, then slip it later to a director or producer. A stunt man, for example, has captured his attention, and so has a Los Angeles­based composer who submitted a CD of symphonic music.

Marquardo slaps the recording into his computer and begins to play it, apologizing for the poor quality of the speakers. "Isn't this great?" he asks. "This is just great." The music, full of horns and strings, ebbs and flows like a John Williams imitation. It probably won't do for Wild Game.

None of this appears to have gone to Marquardo's head -- or at least to his lifestyle, which is studded with few of the club-hopping, drug-taking, hipster qualities for which movie people are famous.

Unlike many a hero of the silver screen or movie-industry executive, Marquardo maintains the ingestion habits of a Puritan: He never smokes, he never drinks, he consumes no coffee or tea, he's never tried any drug, and he's proud of it. "Why can't you go into a bar and have a good time and NOT drink?" is a question he asks periodically, especially when he glances out the bay window of his second-floor suite of offices in a pink building on Harrison Street. Directly across the street he can see the Village Bar. Next to it is a health club with 100 feet of plate glass windows, which Marquardo studies fondly from time to time, especially if nubile young women in body-hugging outfits appear on the exercise machines facing the street.

In movie-mogul tradition, Marquardo likes women. Some dance in the local strip clubs, he says of those he can see entering the health club in early afternoon. He points out one through the plate glass. "She was [Playboy's] Playmate of the Month once," he says, "and we dated a few times, but she's too short for me and too interested in herself. But we get along."

Getting along is something that didn't happen with his parents. They divorced when Marquardo was young, by his account, and his mother took him to Florida, before sending him back to Boston as a 13-year-old who lived in the care of social service agencies. As with other Marquardo stories, this one is difficult to substantiate: Records of such juveniles were not computerized in the 1980s, and some are lost, according to a Department of Social Services administrator in Boston.

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