Former Chicagoan Niko Vitacco returns home for the filming of Guys Night

Former Chicagoan, actor/ writer/ producer, Niko Vitacco, will return home to begin filming in August on the feature film, Guys Night.

As if he followed the advice of Hemingway and Mark Twain, to write what you know, Vitacco has a heartfelt memory of his youth that is bursting to be told.

Drawing from his own personal experiences, Guys Night is the story of one summer from his childhood in Hometown, IL.

That’s correct, Vitacco’s hometown is in fact Hometown, IL, a charming little city on the southwest side of Chicago that covers a total area of 0.48 square miles, creating a little wedge between Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn. So if you blink, you might miss it. The population in the 2020 census is 4,343.

“I’ve been living in Los Angeles for 16 years,” says Vitacco. “Long enough to call it home, but not enough to forget where I grew up. Southside of Chicago!”

Vitacco’s childhood memories of Hometown haven’t changed all that much. It’s as if the school, the church, Home Town Plaza, Starlite Carwash and the Bluebird Lanes bowling alley are frozen in time, which makes filming this period piece a delight for the set designer.

Guys Night is a feature length comedy/drama, inspired by true events, based on the story of Vitacco’s family life.

It explores the lives of three young boys getting into some mischief while learning how to cope with the struggles of divorce, and a stoic father’s journey of love, loss, and acceptance. 

“Writing this script opened my up my eyes to the reality of divorce from my parents’ perspective — especially my dad’s. I feel the story will touch a large audience, and can help add perspective to those who are going through, or who have gone through, a similar experience but never had an outlet to express themselves,” he said.

“Like many kids, my parents were divorced when I was young,” said Vitacco. “That came with a lot of struggles, but we were blessed to live in a place that made the reality of it a little easier. It was a place where we could all grow up together, despite our dysfunctional family life. I guess you could say that Hometown helped raise me. I want to give back to Hometown, by telling my story.”

Vitacco has assembled his team of filmmakers: Director – Dave Eichhorn, Producer – Andrew Baird, and Cinematographer – Louis Powell. “The four of us traveled to Chicago this winter to capture b-roll and drone footage, establishing locations of Hometown in the winter season. We intend to start principal photography at the end of Summer,” he said. “We’ve secured the majority of our locations already with the help of the Mayor, Kevin M. Casey, and many other residents of Hometown, as we have the full support of the community behind us.”

Andrew Baird, Dave Eichhorn, Louis Powell, Niko Vitacco

Niko Vitacco always had an interest in filmmaking but it started in front of the camera. “As a kid, I had a big imagination. I always loved to tell stories and entertain,” said Vitacco.

He started early in life by auditioning and performing in every play in High School, and then went on to study liberal arts at Moraine Valley Community College. Columbia College tuition was out of his reach so he studied improvisation at Second City Chicago, completing their conservatory program, and eventually made his move to L.A. to pursue an acting career.

Once settled in L.A. he dove further into his education with improv classes, scene study and acting technique classes, private coaches, and he worked on sets learning filmmaking first hand from industry professionals. “I’ve had an overall ‘in the field’ learning experience,” said Vitacco.

He had a lead role in the feature film, The Elephant In The Room. When the film wrapped, he was asked to come on as a co-producer to see it through the entire post production process. “For those who, like myself, have never gone to film school, post production is the best place to learn about filmmaking. They say you can make or break a film in post. I not only established many great relationships in this process, but I felt like I had a masterclass in post production filmmaking.”

That experience motivated Vitacco to dust off his Guys Night screenplay, do some rewrites and polish it up to get it made. He said, “I’ve realized that whether you’re an actor, writer, or filmmaker, if you want to succeed in this industry, then you need to create your own success. That’s exactly what I plan to do with this film!”

You can find more info about Guys Night on their website at guysnightmovie.com and watch for further updates on the filming on Reel Chicago.


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Wielding decades of Film & TV production experience, Barbara Roche is the editor/publisher of Reel Chicago and Reel 360.

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