Greg Fusco and Eli Servance III on latest projects

Eli Servance III

Greg Fusco is a Brooklyn based screenwriter. Greg graduated with a BFA in Theatre from Marymount Manhattan College and has since pursued a career in screenwriting. Writing in many various genres and styles, Greg has found most of his success in absurdist comedy pilots. Still on the hunt for representation, Greg has amassed an impressive collection of awards and accolades for his work. Some of which include, Finalist in the Nantucket Film Festival, Winner in the Twister Alley Film Festival, Semi-Finalist in Inroads Writing Fellowship, Winner in the Great American Script Contest, Winner in the Burning Love Screenplay Contest, and is currently a Semi-Finalist in the Hayden Films 1.0 Screenwriting Competition and Finalist in the ISC Festival here in New York.

Since 2005, Eli Servance III has been bartending in New York City.  His first gig was in a neighborhood soul food restaurant.  From that entry point he’s worked with Michelin starred chefs, Tales of The Cocktail Bartender of The Year recipients, three-star New York Times restaurants, and companies like Bon Appetit, Soho HouseCampari and Food Network NYCWFF.

Once the pandemic hit my industry was completely crushed! Out of options I was driven to push myself to explore the more creative side that laid dormant in me. For years I would create outlines for screenplays for pilots, full length features, animated stories, and food related content. I would always brush it off under the guise of “not having enough time”.  When I had time to partner with Greg Fusco he was able to help me foster that creative drive and now my goal is to live a more creatively immersive life. Which has always been my dream.

Greg Fusco

NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?

Greg Fusco: Our pilot and entire series is set in Brooklyn and the surrounding boroughs of NYC. Being selected for such a prestigious festival also based in NYC is extra special and lends more credibility to our work. Our hope throughout writing this project has been to truthfully represent people of color in New York and their specific struggles and stories. It’s a huge honor to be accepted as a finalist in ANY festival, but ISC in NY is particularly special.

Eli Servance III: Firstly, thank you for selecting me/us. This opportunity signifies that I am on the right trajectory creatively. That I am capable of creating art people very entrenched in this art form connect with and see our dark comedic world in some way. During the pandemic is when I really pushed myself to pursue every left-brained idea I’ve ever had so it’s an amazing feeling to have something I’ve sat with for years get any kind of recognition. I am blessed to have an amazing creative partner.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?

Greg Fusco: Racism Is Funny is a half-hour absurdist comedy based on the true stories of Eli, a Brooklyn bartender, and his fellow people of color as they struggle to live normal lives in a laughably confused society that is actively trying to stop them. As often as we will follow Eli, we intend for every other episode to feature a different person of color and their own unique perspectives and neighborhoods. This show is all about community and giving voice to those whom racism and ignorance are constantly attempting to silence. We have generated so many powerful conversations as well as cathartic laughter in sharing this work and we cannot wait for the whole world to get a chance to join in those conversations. ISC’s support and encouragement stands as yet another sign that we are taking our work in the right direction.  

Eli Servance III: Racism is Funny is an episodic dark comedy. The story is about the travels of a Brooklyn-based African American bartender as he navigates a world of micro aggressions and overtly racist behavior. We take dark moments that happen too frequently in society and turn them on their head. In the pilot for example we take a horrible phrase like “didn’t know he was one of the good ones” and flip it into a comedic moments. The story will be rife with awkward and teachable moments.

NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?

Greg Fusco: After attending Marymount Manhattan College for theatre, my creative interests shifted to screenwriting. I have been writing and telling stories for most of my adult life and I am always discovering new techniques and new perspectives. It has been a journey so far, and I’m just getting started.

Eli Servance III: I’m a native New Yorker. I’ve bartended for almost two decades in New York, I actually met my wife and creative partner at one of my old jobs. I love cinema. I’ve always felt I’ve had an overly active imagination and I’m blessed to work with people who help me further advance those skills; screenplay writing or producing music.

NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?

Greg Fusco: I generally seem to thrive in half-hour comedies. I have another series focused on a bumbling cast and crew of a major TV show that are left to write the series finale after the creator dies unexpectedly, that show is called FINALE.  I also have an award-winning short script called TO THE END that I just recently shot here in Brooklyn. It’s pretty exciting since this is the first film I’ve ever produced. To The End is set at a bar and is about an estranged couple hashing out the bitter end of their relationship while watching their house burn to the ground across the street…It’s a comedy.

Eli Servance III: This is my first.

Photo by Dominica Mini Montoya

NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?

Greg Fusco: Racism Is Funny gets more and more exciting by the day. We are currently working on a series of shorts to highlight our characters, comedy, and overall message. Hopefully, we’ll be shooting those sometime this year and plan to use them as a way of generating attention (and financing) for eventually producing the pilot. TO THE END was extremely exciting, as well, since I wore a ton of hats during the production. Shooting that was a dream come true, especially since I wrote the original script 9 years ago. My third project has to be this feature that I’m working on with my friend who is a hugely successful clown in the modern circus. Our screenplay, which centers on the circus, has led to some pretty cool research opportunities, including going backstage for a Cirque Du Soleil show and a trip to Dubai where I drank margaritas with various performers in a pool by the Arabian Gulf.

Eli Servance III: Just this current project so far.

NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?

Greg Fusco: If I had one project I could take on for the rest of my career, it would be a proper reboot of the Twilight Zone. I know this was recently done but, well, I could do better. I love the social commentary of that show and how many of its messages still ring true today. I seem to be doing my best work in the comedy realm so I plan on expanding on that. I hope to always write work that inspires people to think outside the box, see the world from a new set of eyes, and hopefully have something valuable to say. RIF has been a wonderful learning experience for me. We get so many people coming to us, after reading the script, with their own stories of dumb, racist, crap that has happened to them in their own lives and communities. I love writing work that starts conversations and the more uncomfortable, the better. 

Eli Servance III: I want to write dark comedies that stand the test of time, feature films that create hyper realistic images on paper that easily translate into powerful and moving cinema, cartoons, lastly, an episodic drama that becomes top five amongst powerhouses like “The Wire”, “The Sopranos”, etc.

NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

Greg Fusco: Making them relatable, unique, and humble. You need to know that you are walking in their shoes and writing from their point of view. You need to immerse yourself in your characters, the more you do, the stronger they become. I’ve been working hard to avoid writing from the straight, white male perspective (my own perspective). Writing yourself over and over again in different scenarios is boring and selfish. Explore the lives you know the least about.

Eli Servance III: Creating someone people can genuinely relate to and want to invest in.

NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?

Greg Fusco: RIF is definitely at the forefront of my work right now. We’ve already written 5 accompanying shorts and have plans for a few more. We are actively seeking a production company/team to pair up with in order to shoot at the level we hope to achieve. Beyond that, I’m about to circle back on this Air BNB/Stand Up Comedy pilot that I worked on a while back.  I also have a wild series I’m working on with a friend that involves a sentient town, magic, ghosts, and reincarnation. The goal is to make a show that sits somewhere between Pushing Daisies and Fleabag. Definitely an ambitious project, but one that’s so weird it just might work. 

Eli Servance III: A feature film about the owner/creator of an iconic American restaurant chain.

NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?

Greg Fusco: I mostly stick to writing. I am a bartender at a place called Chilo’s, so I do enjoy playing around with new cocktail concepts. I also have two young nieces and a baby nephew in Queens, and kids are always pushing you to be creative. They’re super imaginative kids and a constant source of inspiration.

Eli Servance III: I am currently working towards getting back into music, making hip-hop and pop music with one of my childhood friends. Otherwise, creating cocktail content has always pushed my creative and engineering side.

NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?

Greg Fusco: Get writing. Start with a setting and sentence, see where it takes you. I’ve known plenty of talented writers who never got anything done because they were obsessed with knowing every aspect of their plot and characters before they did any actual writing. I don’t subscribe to that concept. Do a little work each day. If you’re dedicated to your goals, you’ll get there. Don’t worry about “saving the cat.” You can do that later. Just write!

Eli Servance III: Always create. Even if it’s one line or one hundred pages a day. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share your art. Never stop believing.

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