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Philly Films: Talks to makers of Indie Film Ice Grill, USA


Limbo. A place so many of us are caught in but something that is rarely discussed. People, thoughts, feelings and sometimes, even whole communities can be caught in limbo. Ice Grill, USA is the story about suchIce Grill USA a place and much like the lost souls it depicts, this standout indie film is caught in the middle, figuring out how to find its way, or at the very least its way to its audience.

Brigantine, New Jersey lays next to the infamous city of Atlantic City, and this film is written by two young men who grew up in there.  The beach resort however, is really not the town it appears to be to the naked eye. Ice Grill USA discusses the struggles that face the youth of Atlantic City and people in the Philadelphia area. The boundaries between what is right and wrong is never a question of black and white. Instead, it is rather a bizarre shade of gray that changes on a daily basis.

When Greg Santarsiero and Mark Bernardi tell their touching coming of age portrayal of life on the streets of Atlantic City, they take you on a tour between the battle of good and evil and unlike the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood screen, sometimes evil wins and sometimes good is overlooked.

Ice Grill USA is more than a story written by two youths who grew up in Brigantine, New Jersey, it’s a story of so many who did not make it out. From an outsiders point of view, South Jersey, especially Atlantic City, presents a world of fame and fortune. For others, particularly the “insiders” who live there, Atlantic City and Brigantine present a struggle of the “haves” and the “have nots” along with the casino industry- which, as Greg Santarsiero puts it, is South Jersey’s version of working in the coal mines.

The young writers describe Brigantine as “The Rock.” The term likens the island to Alcatraz, symbolizing the eternal and often futile struggle of youth trying to make it out of the town. And in a sad and powerful way, it describes the many that have lost talent…and their lives to the temptations and struggles of the city.

We were fortunate enough to sit down and talk to Greg and Mark about their project and here’s what they had to say:

P2P: What made you guys write this story?

Mark: We wanted to tell the story of the struggle of getting off of your block and the pressures that surround you in your journey to becoming a Ice Grill USAman. Pressures such as crime and drugs which are everywhere.

Greg: This story is about trying to be true to yourself while trying to make it out of Atlantic City. About doing the right thing while still doing what needs to be done to get by and get ahead.

P2P: The main character is Auggie Logan. Tell us about Auggie.

Mark: Auggie is a conflicted character surrounded by predators at every turn. Atlantic City is a moral maze that demands cunning and wit to navigate and Auggie’s challenge throughout IGU is to make it out the other end still intact.

P2P: Was this the first film you collaborated on together?

Greg: “Rise By Sin” was our first independent film which we completed in 2004. It was essentially a substitute for film school and though a no budget film, it opened many of the doors that allowed us to make IGU.

P2P: The trailers presented on your website seem pretty powerful but definitely gives two outlooks on your hometown. What do you feel the people back “Home” will feel about this movie?

Mark: People who know us are going to know the intent with which we created the film and understand the “Game” in AC is rigged. Any locals will be able to feel the words and slang we use.

Greg: My goal was to show the kids back home, the 15 year-old versions of myself that with hard work and tenacity, people from our hometown can make it out despite all of the obstacles that stand in their way. This is a tribute to all of the good folks we grew up with whether they are still here physically or not. We’ve lost friends and family along the way and this film is dedicated to their spirit.

At the end of the day, Ice Grill USA is the best movie you’ve never heard of. Anyone who has ties to South Jersey will heed the powerful message. For people from the outside world, they are in for an entertaining and educational experience into the lure of Atlantic City and Brigantine.

For more information on the film and to see free trailers, visit the website: www.IceGrillUSA.com  and you’ll see this film has an unlimited amount of potential and tells a story which has been overlooked by Hollywood for far too long.