From ‘Jersey’ to Tribeca

Local actor and his Migraine are film-festival bound

When Joe Barbara’s short film Migraine makes its world premiere this month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, he hopes he’ll be in the audience. But with a packed schedule—he plays five roles in Jersey Boys and is a teacher at Bishop Gorman High School, in addition to being a husband and a father of three young boys—he’s not sure he’ll be able to make it. These days, he can hardly find time to do household chores.

“When am I gonna have time to clean the pool, huh—tell me that?” asks the actor, whose résumé includes roles in Broadway productions and television shows, such as Another World (as Joe Carlino), All My Children (as Paolo Caselli) and Law & Order.

It’s actually a wonder that he found time to make a movie. Migraine has been in the works for years, says Barbara, who produced the 15-minute film, which co-stars fellow Jersey Boys actor John Salvatore (who plays Bob Crewe in the stage production).

Barbara is close-lipped about the movie plot. “We agreed to not divulge too much, but it’s about a conservative Seattle shoe designer who travels to New York for the first time and experiences an unforgettable night,” he says, reading from some agreed-upon script.

He will, however, go into greater detail about his reaction to getting into Tribeca. “My jaw dropped,” he says. “It wasn’t even the movie we set out to make. It was just for fun, just for kicks.”

In fact, Migraine is a side project to another film that Barbara is producing next year, called Steve’s Pizza. He began writing that in 2002, when he and his wife moved to an apartment in New York City that sat directly across from the area that was once the World Trade Center. Moving there, Barbara says, was their way of doing something helpful after the attacks of 9/11—they were bringing life back into an area that had practically become a ghost town.

Through the lingering dust of the former skyscrapers, Barbara walked past a boarded-up pizzeria called Steve’s Pizza. “Who’s this guy Steve, and what the hell’s he doing now? What’s his story?” Barbara asked. It inspired him to write the screenplay.

Three years ago, when Barbara was cast in Jersey Boys, he and his family moved to Las Vegas. Here, he met others who were interested in making movies. Together, they made a short film before delving into the feature flick. That’s where Migraine comes in.

“Next thing we know, it’s invited to Tribeca,” Barbara says. In fact, it was one of 2,800 submissions. The short will screen as a part of the “Men-hattan” program, along with shorts by Neil LaBute and Ed Burns.

While there are no immediate plans to show Migraine in any Las Vegas film festivals, Barbara says he’d be open to the opportunity. In the meantime, his nose is to the grindstone as he continues performing in Jersey Boys by night and teaching a television production class at Bishop Gorman by day. The high school students produce a weekly live broadcast. In the future, however, he says he’d love to work with them on other genres, particularly producing shorts and filmmaking. “It’s just a matter of squeezing out a couple more hours in the day,” he says.

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