Interview with a Hip Priest

“‘Hip Priest’ is a visceral and thought-provoking journey through a day in the life of a free-spirited priest. Known to his flock as ‘Priest’, he is a simple man on the surface. He drinks, he smokes, he’s puts one foot in front of the other, day in and day out. But behind the white collar is a human being who hurts, and who loves. A purveyor of empathy and a pillar of conviction, he adheres to a personal code of living with all that he is and knows. A warm glowing light in an often dark and cruel world. The film weaves in and out of poignant moments during his day, finding rhythm and purpose behind his actions and their effects on the neighborhood he inhabits. At the center of this world is Priest’s ‘bible’, a self-made collection of words and images that have molded the energy inside him, which he dreams of sharing with the world. Ideas and anthems that have moved him and helped guide him through the hard edged days of life.” –Hip Priest

The full film, written and directed by Gregg De Domenico, runs 28min taking you through a couple of days within the life of the ‘Hip Priest’.  Its shot in black and white, and I love the character and depth it adds to the film. Its definitely a must see and has already been shown at the Montclair Film FestivalHoboken International Film FestivalBlack Maria Film Festival, The Brooklyn Film Festival, and was most recently shown to a a sold out crowd at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles. Check out a sneak peak below :)

The man behind ‘Hip Priest’ and the inspiration for which the charater was written, Gerard McNamee, is an actor, artist, businessman, and entrepreneur. Born and raised in the Bronx to Irish immigrant parents and a graduate of Fordham University, he is currently the director of operations at Webster Hall (NYC’s longest running night club – open since 1886) and the owner of the newly opened bar, East Village Social.

I recently had the opportunity to steal 20min out of his busy schedule for a phone interview to find out more about the film and it’s lead actor.

So, you’re the director of operations at Webster Hall, you just recently opened a bar, you have an upcoming performance at the Lincoln Center, and you’re in a film that has been selected for the HollyShorts Festival in LA – How do you have time for it all?

I just make it happen. When you want something you go after it and I love my job because it doesn’t feel like work, so that makes it easy to function from day to day on only a few hours of sleep.

What is a typical day like for you?

I usually go to bed between 5am and 8am, then get up around noon and start my day with the first of many cups of black coffee and a cigarette. I do a lot of my work from my iPhone, take meetings during the day, and book DJs and bands for Webster Hall which is where my night begins and ends.

Have you always wanted to be an actor?

I’ve always had illusions of wanting to be an actor, and one day while working at  Webster Hall with a team of hired videographers to archive Webster Hall’s history. I met Gregg De Domenico and Jerry Zecker. Gregg assured me that one day I would be his muse.

How did the opportunity for ‘Hip Priest’ come about?

A few years after working with Gregg De Domenico he reached out to me after he had an epiphany based on a photograph he saw while on a 5 month sabbatical to Spain. It was on this day that ‘Hip Priest’ was born. Gregg wrote the character specifically with me in mind.

What do you like most about your profession? The least?

I get to entertain people for a living and I enjoy that. Life is hard and we need a release, and most people choose to eat, drink, and socialize.

The thing I like the least is that there isn’t enough time in the day.

What made you decide to open a bar when you have such a busy schedule?

I’m an entrepreneur and I was looking for another project, and I’ve owned and operated several bars in the past. One up by Hunter Mountain, one in East Hampton, and one in City Island.

What advice would you give someone trying to get into the entertainment business?

You have to be dedicated and devoted to yourself and whatever you want to accomplish, and you have to be  in it to win it; actively trying to get to where you want to be in life.

Thank you for making time for our interview Gerard! Check out what the ‘Hip Priest’ is doing on Facebook.

Love AGT :)

Sources: Personal Interview and Hip Priest Fb Page

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