Film and media arts alumni swoop industry

Joe Gariffo and Shaun Paul Costello are actors and filmmakers who are making Temple proud.

Joe Gariffo and Shaun Paul Costello are actors and filmmakers who are making Temple proud.

Joe Gariffo and Shaun Paul Costello are Temple alumni who are on the road to fame.

About two years ago, Gariffo and Costello were majoring in film and media arts. The moment they met, they fell onto the track of success.

Swooped got the film rolling for Joe Gariffo and Shaun Paul Costello, who are working on Are You Kidding Me?

“We both have done countless short films, but when I met Joe, it was like we wanted something bigger than anything we have done before,” Costello said. And with everything we learned from Temple was what gave us the confidence to do that.”

“You go to film school to meet the people you want to work with,” Gariffo said. “And you make connections that way.”

After less than a year of friendship, Gariffo and Costello wrote, produced, directed and starred in the film Swooped: Based on a Real Life Occurrence. Swooped is a “bromantic” comedy about chasing the girls of their dreams.

Gariffo and Costello have been praised for their abilities as filmmakers, but they said they do not think of themselves as such. They are actors, they said. When they started their journeys toward stardom, they dreamt of being in front of the camera, not behind it.

“People are considering us serious filmmakers now,” Costello said. “It’s one thing we’ve never considered ourselves. We always tell people, even today, we’re actors.”
Being actors first and foremost may contribute to the quality of Gariffo and Costello’s filmmaking.

“We just got tired of waiting for roles,” Gariffo said. “We wanted to break out there. We wanted to stop doing shorts. We wanted to do features, ‘cause we didn’t really think there was a market for shorts, really. And we had an idea, and we did it. At the time, Swooped was supposed to be a $2,000 movie, and then we raised $20,000. We didn’t set out to do it, but when it started to happen, we rolled with it.”

After Gariffo and Costello made Swooped, they signed on to Booted, a romantic comedy about a man who gets a boot on his car tire. A combination of love, homelessness, mobsters, hot dogs and an angry meter maid make Booted a good laugh.

Gariffo and Costello became involved with Booted from a night at Denny’s when they overheard producers Derek Lindeman, John Guarnere and Frank Vain discussing the script. Gariffo and Costello introduced themselves, and several months later they were on set.

“You don’t know where your career is going to take you,” Costello said.

Among others, Gariffo and Costello have worked with Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Spin City and Speed), Brian Anthony Wilson, (Law & Order: SUV) and Ryan Dunn (Haggard, Jackass and Viva La Bam).

Currently, Gariffo is focused on acting, with several projects in the works.

Costello is the producer and lead actor in Close-Up, a film written and directed by fellow Temple alumni José Cruz Jr. Gariffo, Costello and Cruz are in Los Angeles shooting a portion of the film. In July, Costello is directing his third feature, Are You Kidding Me? In August, Gariffo and Costello will be starring in Have Guns, Will Travel, also directed by Cruz.

“I just want to do this for the rest of my life,” Gariffo said.

Bob Kaplan can be reached at

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