Aaron Scotti, executive producer of the summer sleeper Peanut Butter Falcon, is a native of Conshohocken, which you can tell by the way he always shortens it to “Conshy.”
He’s staying with his mom in Conshy while he hits Philly to promote the independent movie, a road picture about a fugitive (Shia LaBeouf) who bonds with a runaway with Down syndrome (Zack Gottsagen). While here, Scotti is hosting screenings and Q&As, and infiltrating Eagles practice to get Carson Wentz to sign his brother’s Wentz jersey, which Scotti has been wearing around town as he hypes the movie.
Multitasking comes with Scotti’s gig as a producer — a role Scotti didn’t envision for himself when, after graduating from Plymouth Whitemarsh and doing a semester at Montgomery County Community College, he first decided he wanted to become an actor.
“I was a big fan of the show Friends," he said. "And when they did their last episode, and the camera pulled back to show all the people involved in the show, and I saw it was a business, and a job, and the reality of it just kind of hit home, and I decided it was something I could do.”
That eventually led Scotti to acting school in New York, then on to Los Angeles, where he found regular but non-starring work – check his CV, and you see a lot of roles for “bartender” and “guy.”
While pursuing auditions, he started hanging out with Philly native Christopher Lemole, who’d been producing at a company called Armory. He’d send Scotti scripts and ask his advice on casting, and Scotti found himself recommending bigger-name actors for roles that he would like to have. That’s when he started to rethink his role in the industry, and jumped at the chance to help Lemole produce another movie.
Producer – what does that mean, anyway?
Scotti found out on his first real job – the Nic Cage/Selma Blair movie Mom and Dad. A scene called for Cage to smash the auto glass of a vintage TransAm with a hammer, and the stunt team suggested that Cage first practice the move to make sure it would work on camera, which meant Scotti had to find the exact same vintage auto glass for the real shot.
“I called around junkyards all over Kentucky, and they all laughed at me," Scotti said. "They said you’ll never find that car, But I did find it, about three hours away, and I stopped at a Home Depot for a pickax, and we got it done. That’s what a producer does, whatever needs to be done. As an actor, you’re always taught to stay in your lane. But as a producer you do everything, and I found that I liked that.”
His next big job was Peanut Butter Falcon, which has become a little-movie-that-could legend in Hollywood that began after a five-minute short featuring Gottsagen articulating his dream of starring in a film caught the attention of Josh Brolin and other stars (the eventual cast would include Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, and John Hawkes).
Armory got involved, financing fell in place, and Scotti found himself spending the summer in coastal Georgia and North Carolina, making sure production went smoothly.
It did, in a way that was life-changing for Scotti.
“Spending a summer working with Zack, I have to say it changed my heart in a way that I never would have imagined," he said. "The set was different. We really did build a family. I think you feel that when you are watching the film.”
Scotti’s life will change in other ways in January, when he’s expecting his first child.
The child is due on Scotti’s birthday, Jan. 2. I asked Scotti how old he’ll be then, and he said, “Let’s say mid-30s.”