When a young woman disrupted a coffee shop with a telekinetic rampage, causing another patron to sail up a wall and tables to scatter, the New Yorkers who jumped back and gasped had Sam Pezzullo to thank for the jolt. The New Rochelle resident, working for the viral video marketing company Thinkmodo, produced the prank and the video that came from it to promote the 2013 horror flick Carrie. The only permanent Thinkmodo staffer other than its two founders, Pezzullo’s videos have been viewed more than 200 million times on YouTube and have reached hundreds of millions of television viewers with worldwide news coverage. He also runs his own video content firm in New Rochlle, 28twelve Productions. Eventually, he wants to move into traditional moviemaking, but for now he’s happy to ride the crest of the current wave in marketing, even if that sometimes means scaring the wits out of bystanders. The “victims” generally love a good joke once they’re let in on it, he says. “Everybody is always enthusiastic afterward,” Pezzullo explains. “It is ultimately a fun experience for them, as well.”
• Pezzullo began making movies at age 12, with a Sony digital camera his mother received for her birthday. He and his friends made horror movies, emulating flicks such as Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer
• He now prefers documentaries. “If I can find any opportunity to tell a story that’s based in reality, that’s where my interest is,” he notes.
• He worked for three years on the Tribeca Film Festival and in 2010 was part of a team that helped develop programs for the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar, which was in its second year. He also consults on the membership services and recruitment team for the British Academy of Film and Television in New York.
• Along with the team at Thinkmodo, he has won various high-level industry awards for videos he has produced, including a Webby Award, a Clio Award, a Key Art Award, a Shorty Award, and an Epica Award. They have been shortlisted for several Cannes Lion awards, as well.