The Spotlight: John Henry Soto

For this edition of The Spotlight, I interviewed Bronx  filmmaker John Henry Soto. Keep reading to learn more about his new television show “Pitch” set in the Bronx!

 

Which neighborhood in the Bronx are you from? How has it inspired the setting for your new show “Pitch”?

I grew up in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx. On Southern Blvd, Bryant Ave, Westchester

Ave and Aldus St. I was raised by my grandparents and my grandma liked moving. 🙂 The corner

bodega to me was always a place of comfort because everyone knew who you so no matter what might

be happening outside, in there you were cool. If you needed to find someone you would walk in and

yell, “Hey! Have you seen Tito!?” It was effective. The idea for Pitch came to me because I love

detective shows. From Columbo, Baretta, Magnum PI to Monk, SVU and everything in between. I got

good at figuring out who committed the crime and really enjoyed that element. But, I always noticed

that very few shows would ever venture up into the Bronx. I decided to not only venture up there but

have the character live and work there too. Having him work in a bodega in the Bronx seemed

perfect.

How has the neighborhood responded to the filming of “Pitch?”

“Well a few interesting things happened which I thought were great. During our initial scouting for

bodegas to shoot in, we were having trouble looking for a place that had character and didn’t look

gentrified. When we finally found a place I walked in and it was the same owner and he recognized

me! It’s was great and we knew we had our spot. Then came the day of shooting a test scene and word

got around the neighborhood that they were “Shooting” in the bodega! So people gathered to find out

we were shooting a film and there was no violence in the store. I guess that’s one of the unfortunate

realities that someday I would like to eradicate about the Bronx. But on the positive side, the

neighborhood did gather to support the store so that was good.”

Tell us a bit about the main character Pitch. As a writer, I put a bit of myself into all of my characters. Does Pitch have any of your characteristics?

Sure. As you mentioned, I think anytime you’re writing it’s inevitable that part of you gets infused

within your characters but also for me it’s more fun to try to add characteristics that are a little more out

there. For example, Pitch isn’t shy about approaching anyone or asking anything from anyone and I’m

like that but writing for an evil politician can be even more fun. Pitch grew up in the South Bronx with

the hopes of becoming a police officer. Unfortunately for him his short stature made it difficult for him

to pass the physical exam needed to get through the academy so he failed. He then began working for

his father’s bodega and solving crime on the side. He got so good at it that his best friend, who did

become a cop, comes to him for help time to time. The police chief and other officers do not like Pitch

because he’s rather arrogant about how good he is and they are threatened. It’s a fun character with

many layers that we hope to explore for at least 6 seasons. 🙂

What are your top three favorite places in the Bronx?

I love the building I grew up in. 1058 Southern Blvd. I hope to get permission to shoot there someday.

It’s a big classic pre-war building with great character.

Botanical Garden is amazing. I grew up going there and it was always shocking to me that we were in

the Bronx.

There’s a bakery on Southern Blvd that I use to go to when I was a kid and it’s still there. I just went

there a few weeks ago and had an amazing cup of coffee with a Cuban sandwich. Love it. But as I

walk around my old neighborhood I find so many places that I really love and the memories are what

keeps me motivated to bring this show to life in a big way.

Now that the show has gone into pre-production, what are the next steps? Are you working on any

other projects?

Right now I just completed a new script and turned in to the production company No Name Brand

Films. We’ve already shot part of another script which we have used for marketing purposes. The new

script will be shot in its entirety and we will be casting for that soon. We really want to generate

excitement behind the show and tell as many people as possible. I’ve spoken to Councilman Fernando

Cabrera, got a Twitter reply from Senator Espaillat and News 12 the Bronx will be doing a story once

we go into production. That’s just a few of many more. The excitement is building and we hope to get

rolling soon.

As far as projects, I’m always working on something. I have a new web series titled Write in Bayonne

about a writer in the small town of Bayonne, NJ and all the characters he runs into. I’m always writing

for a few internet sites and auditioning. Keeping busy with the things you love is a key to success in

my opinion. I always love helping other artists so I teach guitar and help actors anyway I can. I’m

always available for that.

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