Celebrated Showrunner Ciro Apicella dives into his own life experiences in new series ‘St. Augustine’
At 28 years of age, Writer Ciro Apicella has already had a career many only dream of. In 2015, he was commissioned to write and direct a film for the Peter Pan Museum in London, shot in the house where J.M. Barrie wrote his masterpiece Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. It was the first and only time somebody was allowed to film inside this London Landmark. In 2019, his film Luce saw international acclaim at many prestigious film festivals, including Firenze Filmcorti International Festival, Wellington Independent Film Festival, Social World Film Festival, and later this year it will screen at the Academy Award qualifying LA Shorts and AFIfest2020. He is currently the Co-Founder of the LA-based screenplay development company Plenty Good and Creator, Head Writer of the heist series Crooked, in development with a renowned Hollywood Studio.
“The stories I write about are strongly tied to my Italian culture, the relationship with religion and faith, the pursuit of identity and what it means to leave the old way for the new. The feature I am developing now, Arteteca, and the tv-show St. Augustine that I am showrunning, are based on this feeling,” says Apicella.
St. Augustine is a mystery/horror tv-series in development at Paijait Inc. Created by Apicella, it follows three best-friends set to uncover the mystery behind the death of a fellow student at a boarding school in the Alps. It has some dark twists and turns appropriate for the genre, inspired by the stories of Agatha Christie and the dark atmospheres of David Lynch, but ultimately, it’s a story about friendship. Apicella worked hard to create a believable and touching relationship between the main characters, as well as create a unique tone and subject matter.
“In this show, I want to explore those once in a lifetime experiences that we all shared with someone special when we were growing up. In particular, I want to focus on the last teenage years that are so important to our upbringing,” says Apicella. “St. Augustine is not only a friendship story, but it also explores a world of corruption where the corrupt come from every social class and financial status, a tremendously relevant topic if we look at the ruling elite today. Everything is connected.”
The show is based on Apicella’s own personal experiences growing up in Italy, but it is also influenced by other works of art he has taken in. As a writer, he is able to seamlessly convey horror and humor in the same scene, a vital trait for a television series in the mystery genre.
In order to tell a mystery tale about friendship, Apicella decided to set the series in the fictitious boarding school of St. Augustine. He personally has visited the Alps many times and knew it would be the ideal location for the story. Once he knew where it was taking place, it was easy for Apicella to dive into the world he was creating and develop a timeline for the entire first season to really explore the characters’ first-time experiences of love, betrayal and loss.
“I like the world where the series is set, the Swiss Alps, a world that allows me to explore and subvert all the great tropes of the mystery genre. This genre has been one of my favorites since I was kid. I was always reading and watching Agatha Christie's stories and reading Italian socio-political mysteries written by Leonardo Sciascia,” Apicella describes.
Creating this fictitious world, rather than basing the story of an actual location, gives Apicella the freedom to do what he wants and the opportunity to escape reality. In turn, these are the exact feelings he hopes audiences get out of his show.
St. Augustine is in development at Paijait, Inc. Keep an eye out for it when it hits your television screen.