By Max Frazier
East Greenwich, R.I. – The story of one of the biggest heists in American history comes out in theaters throughout Rhode Island Friday, June 7. Vault depicts the famous 1975 robbery of the Bonded Vault Company, which was located inside of the Hudson Fur Storage right in Providence. Because the heist took place in Rhode Island, that is where Chad Verdi, producer, and Tom DeNucci, director, filmed the picture. The film will play in Rhode Island for a week before opening to a wider release and on demand June 14.
“We felt it would be nice to have the people of Rhode Island see the movie a week before anyone else does,” said DeNucci. He and Verdi are R.I. natives.
Of course, Rhode Island has gotten a little used to having a little Hollywood glitter since Verdi opened his film production company in East Greenwich in 2009. While learning the trade with some low-budget films, Verdi got big names to participate in his adaptation of the Vinny Pazienza story, Bleed for This, in 2016, including Miles Teller in the starring role, Aaron Eckhart and Katey Segal.
It became possible after a lucky friendship with film icon Martin Scorsese. Before he got into the movie-making business, Verdi owned Coastal Food Service, a large New England distributorship. Then he changed course.
“I got very lucky in life and made some money,” said Verdi. “By luck or stupidity, I got involved in the film industry.” Now his hobby has turned into a business, he said.
The Bonded Vault heist, as it is known, took place in 1975, when a few low-level criminals decided to steal from the infamous mafia crime lord Raymond Patriarca Sr. According to DeNucci, Verdi had long wanted to make a film about Patriarca. The heist angle seemed to be the best way in. DeNucci started writing and now, years later, he said, it’s “by far the biggest film I’ve ever had the chance to work on.”
“Vault,” starring actor Theo Rossi (of “Sons of Anarchy” and “Luke Cage” fame) was shot in a total of four weeks, pretty fast for a major movie.
“At the end of the day, you had to move quick,” said Verdi. “It was laid back, but you had to move quick. Because if we took any longer, I think the actors wouldn’t be able to keep up with what we were looking for, and that’s energy. If you film for six months, it’s very difficult to keep them going.”
The vast majority of the film was shot in Providence. DeNucci said he was looking for authenticity. “Rhode Island was so important to this movie. If we didn’t have the state of Rhode Island, you know if we shot this on a sound stage in L.A. or shot it in New York somewhere, it just wouldn’t have been the same,” he said.
There were challenges. DeNucci said the biggest one was shooting a period piece.
“Period movies cause all sorts of challenges. Every single article of clothing, every single vehicle on the road, the toaster on the counter in the kitchen, has to be from 1975 or prior to that,” he said.
But most intriguing of all is what Verdi called “the million-dollar question”: Why has this story never been told on the screen before? There have been three books written on the heist, one of them a bestseller, but no film.
“I have no idea why people missed this,” said Verdi. “This should have been done 20 years ago.”