East Deer boy, 12, to make acting debut in film about 1980s Youngstown
Benjamin Manchini and his East Deer buddies play basketball, video games and make their own action videos.
Today, Benjamin gets a real screen call when he films scenes for a new movie.
An independent producer cast Benjamin in the role of a younger version of the movie's main character.
The 12-year-old son of John and Angela Manchini, Benjamin has the looks wanted for the feature movie “On the Arm.”
It's about a turbluent 1980s when Youngstown, Ohio, still was “Crimetown USA,” complete with warring mobsters from Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the FBI, and informants.
Benjamin will play crime boss Louis Sareno's associate Jeffrey Torin as a boy.
Talent agent Terry Berceli of Emsworth said Benjamin has “big eyes and is a heartfelt actor. He also looks like a young Elvis.”
Producer-director-writer Seth Bolyard said Benjamin was selected from taped interviews from about 20 kids.
“He really stood out. He is a polished actor and he looks like actor Chris Lazzaro,” said Bolyard, who was on his way from Tampa on Friday to begin shooting the movie Sunday.
Benjamin's scene comes early in the movie.
It's quite a step for Benjamin, who will enter the seventh grade at Deer Lakes Middle School this fall.
“I've thought about being a doctor, but the more I think about it, acting is interesting me,” he said.
“I'm excited for him and he is excited to do it,” said John Manchini, East Deer's police chief.
The actor's cheering section of mom, sisters Gigi and Noelle and cousin Addie Evans of Harrison helped him rehearse for the tryout video sent through YouTube.
“This is so super for Benny,” Noelle Manchini said.
Bolyard said the youngster is a good fit and he is ready to get going with the major project.
“It's an independent film version of the ‘Goodfellas' movie, the mob in Youngstown, the FBI, people going to prison and a guy trying to get out of the mob,” Bolyard said.
“We are putting everything into it. My wife and I cashed in our retirement. We really believe in it,” said Bolyard, who once attended the school where Benjamin will act Monday.
The mob movie focuses on Sareno and Torin, who will be portrayed by Lazzaro.
Viewers may remember Lazzaro from guest roles on “The Perfect Murder” series on Investigation Discovery, “Blue Bloods” on CBS and the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
Bolyard said Lazzaro has recently completed three feature films that are in post-production.
“On the Arm” is due to be released in the spring of 2018.