"Ultimately, audiences will see how saving dogs actually saved me!"
Los Angeles filmmaker Jon Mancinetti of Mancinetti Pictures found himself in that exact situation last year. In the process of ending their relationship, his then girlfriend violently attacked him and destroyed his apartment. Then, just two days later, he lost his beloved pit bull and best friend, Russell Stover to cancer.
Rather than let these events define him, Jon took the lemons he was given and made them into lemonade. He decided to foster another shelter dog who was hours from being killed – an experience that opened up a whole new world for him.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Jon has been making movies for as long as he can remember. After making his first successful feature film, Never Escape, the promise of new opportunities and the lure of warmer weather brought him to sunny California.
Jon has also had a lifelong love for animals. Back in Ohio he began rescuing dogs in a rather unorthodox manner but the knowledge and experience he gained carried forward when he moved west. In just this past year, through his time and effort, eight pit bulls have found wonderful forever homes.
Now Jon is taking his lifelong passions for rescue and film making to the next level by creating a film called Loss and Found. With this project he hopes to tell his own story in an entertaining fashion and, at the same time, create a meaningful film to raise awareness regarding the topics of shelter overcrowding and breed discrimination and to applaud the lifesaving efforts of animal rescue workers.
As many of us already know, when we rescue, we too are rescued and Jon is living proof. As you will see, Jon’s love and compassion for some of the most downtrodden dogs he has encountered have taken him on an incredible journey and his mission is just beginning.
With his new project Loss and Found, Jon also has great news for dogs and owners everywhere. By making just a small contribution to Jon’s Kickstarter campaign you will not only be backing the project, but you and your dog can also be showcased at the premiere! Be sure to check out all the details here.
We are very pleased to have Jon with us today to tell us all about himself, his dogs and his exciting upcoming film, Loss and Found.
Q. It sounds like your new film was inspired largely by the bond you shared with your rescued pit bull Russell Stover. Tell us a little about him.
A. Russell came into my life almost three years ago. It was right after I lost Balou, the first dog I adopted as an adult and my constant companion for ten years. A friend of mine was fostering Russ through Karma Rescue. He had been pulled from the Carson Animal Shelter, a high kill shelter and well known for killing pit bulls. Russell had been used as a bait dog. He had scars all over his body and bite marks all around his neck. His teeth had even been filed down. My friend asked if I would baby sit him for a weekend while she went out of town. Once I brought him into my apartment there was no denying he was my dog.
Q. How did you first become involved in rescue?
A. It’s kind of a funny story actually. Back in Cleveland years ago, I used to walk Balou in my neighborhood and one of my neighbors always had different pit bulls in the yard. I was suspicious that the dogs were being bred to fight. Eventually this neighbor got a puppy. I would see people kicking and beating her. She lived in a tire literally tied to a post but she was always friendly to me and Balou. One day the owner yelled at me and told me not to pet her because they wanted her to be mean. Eventually I could take no more and on Memorial Day I jumped the fence and stole the dog!! At the time I had no idea about rescues or how to properly save a dog but I felt I had made the right decision at the time. My girlfriend and I kept the puppy and named her Beauty.
Q. Tell us about some of your film projects.
A. I made hundreds of movies with my brothers over the years and lots of student films that really helped me learn editing the technical aspects. My first full film, Brice Stevens: The Movie was a 45 minute improv based comedy. In 2010. I wrote, directed, shot and edited my first big feature, a 1 hour 15 minute action thriller Never Escape. It premiered to a sold-out crowd of over 400 people, went on to be accepted into numerous film festivals and got a video on demand deal! This film really helped put me on the map in Cleveland. Next the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers offered me a job to shoot videos for them. This was a dream job. I wrote, directed and shot in game videos and commercials that were seen worldwide. Eventually I saved up enough money to move to LA and hit the ground running. My first project was a music video. It was featured on Spin.com and received an overwhelmingly positive response. I have continued to do music videos, commercials and visuals for DJs that have played at some of the world’s biggest music festivals. I also worked last year for Actors For Autism, teaching young adults with autism how to do post effects for movies. Now my goal is to raise a solid budget so I can focus on telling my own story. So much of my time is spent giving my creative talents to clients for their projects and their ideas. This film will give me a chance to really showcase my abilities in a story that is very important to me.
Q. Tell us about your rescue efforts (shelters you work with, dogs you have saved, happy tales, etc.)
A. Over the past year I have fostered a number of dogs, all of them pit bulls. I fostered both independently and through traditional rescues JMM Rescue, Karma Rescue and Paw Prints in the Sand. The dogs were saved from shelters in Riverside, Downey and Carson. They all came with challenges but seeing them thrive and become happy, healthy dogs was a joy. Knowing they found wonderful, loving homes was the greatest reward of all. I have kept in touch with their new families and they are all doing great. Two months ago I went to Carson Animal Shelter and adopted my new dog Smokey! I really lucked out with this guy. He is so well trained that I decided to use him for my film Loss and Found! Smokey will play my first foster dog. I’m excited to make him a movie star!
Q. When did the idea for Loss and Found hit you and how is the project coming along? Where are you now with regards to the film?
A. Last year, after an awful fight with my ex, I was covered in cuts from broken glass and she destroyed my apartment. Then two days later, I had to put Russell to sleep because he had a tumor causing blood to fill his lungs. It was literally the worst weekend of my life. I kept thinking there had to be some kind of reason behind it all. But I stayed positive and channeled my energy into saving dogs. I was amazed at how many people were unaware that you could foster a dog or adopt from a shelter, let alone the staggering number of healthy adoptable pit bulls that are put to sleep every day. I remember thinking when my first foster dog Munson got adopted, “This seems like something out of a movie”.
I had already completed work on a full-length film called Epic Fail and wanted to come up with an idea for a short film next. I knew it had to be something compelling that would get into film festivals and get my name noticed. I couldn’t stop thinking about my story of overcoming loss and saving other dogs last year, so one weekend I sat down and started writing. I think I cried a million times while writing it. Once the script was complete it was an amazing feeling and very cathartic. I have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response on the script and can’t wait to put it into production! As of now literally all I need is money to start pre-production. I want to start casting and locking down locations as well as dates for shooting. I hope to start production in late March early April.
Q. I see your campaign has reached its initial goal. Does this mean the film is definitely a go?
A. Oh this film is happening! There has never been any doubt in my mind! Now that the initial goal has been reached, my hope is we can far exceed it. I am hoping to raise around 10-15 thousand dollars for the full budget of the film. In addition to Kickstarter I have applied to several grants and so far we have received the “Fiscal Sponsorship” grant from IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) in New York. Their sponsors can make a large tax deductible donation to the film through IFP once Kickstarter is over, however I am hoping that we can raise the full budget just on Kickstarter. This is a very modest number for a short film. Donating to this film will also help me continue my work with rescue dogs.
Q. Without giving too much away, how do you envision the final film?
A. I think this film is unique because it has honestly never been done before. This is a short film about how I saved my first foster dog. I have never seen a film about dog fostering, let alone a comedy. We have all seen the commercials on TV to save dogs with the depressing Sarah McLachlan music and this is something I definitely wanted to avoid. Although these commercials are effective, I think they actually turn a lot of people off to the conversation. My goal is to make this film fun and entertaining so audiences both young and old can enjoy it.
It’s also not just a dog movie like Homeward Bound or A Dogs Purpose. It starts right after I lost Russell and will show how devastated I was. Audiences won’t know that it was my dog until halfway through the movie. That’s when the real plot unfolds and I decide to save another dog who is about to be put to sleep at the shelter. At first things don’t go so well and my foster dog just makes me miss Russell more, but eventually we start to bond and audiences will see the positive impact that my foster dog had on my life. It ends with an inspirational message when my foster dog gets adopted by that loving family in their dream home on the beach.
I truly think that this uplifting and inspiring story is so perfect to tell right now with all the negative news that has been happening in our world. I believe that through the comedy in the film we can create something that will both entertain and inform audiences.
Q. What do you see in the future for both your film company and your rescue efforts?
A. I plan to continue to make my own films. This film will help showcase my writing and directing skills and help me go on to work on larger projects. I think it will also be a great tool to help me get a budget to get my completed feature Epic Fail in front of audiences too. As it turns out, I wrote my last dog Russell into Epic Fail so that film will also have a positive rescue pit bull message.
As far as my rescue efforts, this film is meant to educate people in a fun way. Anytime I attend a community event I can talk to students about the message behind the film. Also I hope to use the success of the film to promote more dogs at the shelters who are in need of homes. I feel it is my duty to continue fostering dogs and help dogs get adopted. Eventually I might even be able to make Mancinetti Pictures into a rescue and really step up my game!
A. I am extremely passionate about this film because it is based on my own life experience. My dogs have shown me so much love and have really helped me get through life. As someone who does suffer from depression every once in a while, I am a firm believer that owning a dog can help. The dogs bring me so much joy. All I want is the opportunity to bring that same joy to more people while also saving more dogs.
In LA alone, over 200 pit bulls are put to sleep in the shelters every single day. Out of 600 brought to the shelter system only one actually makes it to a forever home. I now have a strong voice and these poor animals really need that. I know saving eight dogs is small compared to the numbers that are being put down, but just think how many I will be able to save by continuing my work. I know that this film is the story I am meant to tell right now in my life. The main thing I want people to know is that yes, I will be promoting my talents and furthering my career, but most of all I am making this film because I believe that it will help raise awareness and save lives.
So there you have it and remember the name folks, Jon Mancinetti of Mancinetti Pictures.
You can follow Jon and his pups on Instagram @mancinettipics and please don’t forget to check out the campaign page for important updates. Again, all the information can be found at :
We here at www.loyalpitbulllove.com hope all of our followers will promote and support Loss and Found. In doing so you will help raise awareness for issues surrounding shelter dogs which ultimately will help to save lives.
Jon, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time to visit with us today. Most of all, thank you for being a positive voice for those who need it most. We wish you the best and look forward to Loss and Found as well as other future projects. We are confident that both personally and through Mancinetti Picutres you will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of shelter dogs.