Could it be that the next “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” will be made in Delaware? Who’s to say? The fact is that the premiere of “The Wilmingtonians” at the Delaware Art Museum in April was a sellout.
Directed by Gordon DelGiorno of Film Brothers in Wilmington, the quirky 30-minute film, shot in Trinity Vicinity, was scripted by Michaelangelo Rodriguez of New Castle, a lifelong writer who, at 68, is chasing a dream.
“I’m just a writer. I meet all kinds of people,” says Rodriguez. “There are lots of great stories in Delaware. I had to put them together.”
“The Wilmingtonians” tells the story of Roy the dreamer (local actor Michael J. DiFlorio); his wife, Rosita, the screamer (Cindy Carillo); and her two adopted children, tween Tinkerbell and teen Napoleon. The family moves from Texas to Wilmington to find work. (“I want to be somebody,” Roy repeats often, playing off the city’s real-life slogan, A Place to Be Somebody.) What they find is Rosita’s estranged mother in a one-bedroom apartment and her ex-boyfriend, the mayor, who puts them through a series of filthy tests—scrubbing toilets, picking up dog dirt—to prove they love Wilmington so much they’re worthy of help in finding a home. The only problem(s): The mother is a lush and the mayor is a fraud, which leaves the family out in the cold—for now.
“I was inspired by ‘Downton Abbey,’ Winterthur, the Riverfront. I wanted to put it together,” Rodriguez says. “There’s a lot of romance here, a lot of history. I was inspired by all that.”
A former reporter for Scripps Howard News Service, Rodriguez studied fiction writing under the acclaimed novelist Joyce Carol Oates before writing two self-published books, “The Story of Coqui Clause” and, two years ago, “Waiting for the Garden of Eden.”
His plan is to make two or three films a year, then show them at festivals. A sequel is already in the works. “We’re just trying to create something really good,” Rodriguez says. “My idea is to create a series and get it on TV. That would be fun.”
“‘The Wilmingtonians II’ is definitely notches above the first one,” says DelGiorno. Look for its premiere at the Film Brothers Festival of Shorts in October.