2015 Empire STate Filmmaker Award

Joseph Castelo, writer-Director, "The Preppie Connection"

Castelo's third feature film follows a New York private school student who ran a drug trafficking ring to make friends with the popular kids in the early 80s. Toby (Thomas Mann), a lower-class scholarship student, find himself in over his head as he delves into the dangerous world of Colombian drug cartels. St. Lawrence International Film Festival awarded this film and its director the inaugural Empire State Award for Excellence in Filmmaking for either a New York Story or a New York Filmmaker.  

The film premiered at the 2015 Hamptons Int’l Film Festival and was released by IFC Films in the spring of 2016.

Castelo co-wrote and directed THE WAR WITHIN, which premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. THE WAR WITHIN was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards (Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor) and an International Press Academy Satellite Award for Best Picture. It was distributed by Magnolia Pictures.

Previously, Castelo wrote a screenplay for Columbia Pictures called THE PAWN, and another screenplay called IN THE POCKET.

Castelo was an executive producer alongside Mark Burnett on CliffsNotes Films, a series of interactive animated short films based on the CliffsNotes study guides, which are being released by AOL. CliffsNotes was nominated at the IAWTV awards for Best Animated Web Series and Best Interactive Experience.

Castelo has an MFA in Film from Columbia University. While in film school, he wrote and directed AMERICAN SAINT, starring Kevin Corrigan and Vincent Schiavelli. AMERICAN SAINT screened at the San Francisco and Florida International Film Festivals, before winning awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 2001 Hamptons International Film Festival.

Castelo Q&A with Festival Creative Director Bears Fonte

Castelo Q&A with Festival Creative Director Bears Fonte

Castelo with Festival Director Adam Paul

Castelo with Festival Director Adam Paul