Sam Friedlander’s hilarious film, Internet Gangsters will be one of the many films featured during November’s Strasburg Film Festival. Internet Gangster tells the story of two New York hitmen sent to whack an informant hiding out in Los Angeles discover technology is The Mob’s real enemy.
A New York native, Sam graduated from Vanderbilt University and then attended USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he studied writing and directing. While at USC, Sam created several award-winning short films before receiving his MFA in 2006. His thesis film “LUCID” screened at over 25 film festivals worldwide, winning awards for Best Short Film and Best Screenplay.
In early 2006, Sam directed “Lazy Monday,” a music video response to the popular “Lazy Sunday” rap video seen on SNL. “Lazy Monday” was a huge internet success – one of the original “viral videos” – racking up millions of views and being featured on CNN, VH1, and Bravo, as well as in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Following this, Sam was signed by UTA’s online division, and worked in web content and viral videos, creating projects for Endemol USA, E! Network, LMNO, and others, including Sony, where he co-wrote, directed, and produced 11 episodes of “The Hustler”, a series for Sony Television’s Crackle channel.
In 2007, Sam was one of 50 directors selected out of over 12,000 for the Steven Spielberg competition “ON THE LOT”, which aired on FOX primetime. Sam made it to place 4th on the show, where he was given a first look development deal with Dreamworks.
From 2009-2012, Sam worked on the hit USA show “ROYAL PAINS”, serving as an Associate Producer as well as 2nd unit directing during the fourth season of the show. During hiatus, Sam produced the independent feature film “THANKS” in 2011, which aired on Showtime.
From 2013-2015, Sam directed and produced the independent comedy feature “Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant” – starring Mark Feuerstein, Danny Pudi, Jayma Mays, Stanley Tucci, Marcia Gay Harden, Patrick Warburton, Rebecca Romijn, Henry Winkler, Molly Shannon, Taye Diggs, and Jason Alexander. The film was released by MGM/Orion in the summer of 2015, with a 10 city theatrical release.
Sam has also worked in television as a post producer, on the TV series “Allegiance”, “Transylvania”, “State of Affairs”, “Shades of Blue”, and is currently on an NBC pilot shooting in April of 2017.
One of the constant frustrations of working in the feature film world is the glacial pace that things move. Development, financing, casting, back to development, repeat.
Having been in and out of this process for years, it is always refreshing and empowering to work in short form, where things can happen immediately. One of the things I’ve always admired about Eddie is that he’s constantly writing and making stuff. So when he asked if I wanted to direct him in a short film he wrote, it was instantly appealing. Once I read the script, I was even more excited, as I found the concept very funny, and really loved the balance of tone he was aiming for.
My vision was that executing the project in a cinematic way — as opposed to something that resembled sketch comedy — was the best way to draw a viewer in before making an unexpected turn to the comedic beats of the story. Eddie wrote the part of Vinny for himself and through a casting session, we found Rich Grosso, who I knew instantly was the perfect actor for the role of Jimmy.
This project also marked my first collaboration with Alicia Robbins, who was an undergraduate classmate of mine at Vanderbilt University. We’ve both lived in L.A. since then and have been looking for a project to collaborate on, and this was a great way to work together (and learn that we were very compatible).
Overall, working on “Internet Gangsters” was a pleasure. We had extremely limited time and resources, but I’m very proud of the quality we were able to achieve in our final product.