It’s early afternoon, and producer and director Julius Nasso (see more here) is in his Staten Island studio reviewing footage from his most recent project. Drawing on a wide range of inspiration, Julius brings his varied experience both as an entrepreneur and as a creative to the table as he approaches each project.
As a young man, Julius had a dream of becoming a pharmacist – he even worked as a delivery boy for his neighborhood pharmacy. While attending St. John’s University in 1974, Julius studied pharmacology, eventually buying the drug store where he had once worked. This began his tenure as the founder of BuyWise Pharmacy, a chain of stores that he eventually sold in 1988.
Parallel to this, Julius began Universal Marine Medical Supply, a company dedicated to providing cruise and commercial shipping vessels with the medications they are required to have on board by the World Health Organization. This provided Julius with an opportunity to travel, seeing the world by visiting various company headquarters and vessels. Singularly focused on expansion, Julius doggedly pursued leads, opening offices in Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, decades later, the company is one of the largest maritime medical supplies servicing over 300 cruise ships and 16,000 commercial vessels including off-shore rigs, cargo, tankers, and freighters, and has a global presence in the UK, Greece, India, UAE, Australia, China and Singapore.
Simultaneously, Julius’s path crossed with legendary toymaker, Xavier Roberts, best known for his dolls, the Cabbage Patch Kids. During this time, in 1978, Julius partnered Roberts to create the Cabbage Patch Babyland General Hospital Store with a location in New York City.
With three thriving enterprises under his belt, Julius’s path took a turn after being introduced to legendary director Sergio Leone. Initially brought on as a translator, Julius’s role evolved into becoming a personal assistant for the legend. At the same time, Julius enrolled in courses and seminars at Cincecitta studios in Rome. This would be a jumping-off point for an auspicious career in film.
In 1981, while still working with Leone, Julius produced his first television pilot for FOX: Behind the 8 Ball, starring Jerry Orbach, John Amos, and Jimmy Baio. In 1986, he became the head of International Promotions for the action film Above the Law, which led to a 17-year producing partnership with Warner Brothers Studios. Here, Julius honed his craft in the action genre, producing titles including Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice, Under Siege, On Deadly Ground, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Glimmer Man, Fire Down Below and The Patriot.
Ever the entrepreneur, Julius wanted to return to his own ventures following this partnership with Warner Brothers and returned to New York to co-found Manhattan Pictures. Through this venture, he produced and distributed Enigma with Kate Winslet, Secret Lives of Dentists and In Praise of Love with Jean-Luc Godard. Simultaneously, Julius created Julius R. Nasso Productions, producing award-winning films including Prince of Central Park (on which he was able to work with his son, Frankie Nasso) and One-Eyed King.
It was during this time that Julius also produced one of his most highly acclaimed films, Narc, which starred Jason Patric, Ray Liotta and Busta Rhymes. The film went on to be nominated for the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Award and won the Special Price Policier Award at the Cognac Film Festival. In Enemy Hands and The Poet were produced in the years that followed.
Following these hits, Julius’s work was noticed by iconic singer, songwriter, activist and actor, Harry Belafonte. The artist was working on a documentary that recounted not only his life, but his work as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Signing on for the project, Julius again tapped his son Frankie to act as 2nd Unit Director. The film was released with critical acclaim and was immediately shortlisted for an Academy Award. Julius later went out to receive the 2012 NCAAP Image Award for his work on the project.
His first foray working with musicians such a success, that Nasso was tapped later by another legend, Andrea Bocelli to produce a once-in-a-lifetime concert event at the Beijing National Stadium.
Familiar with the singer through his work with the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, Julius and Frankie again partnered to take on the task of creating the headline performance for the Maestro during the Asian Culture Carnival. World leaders from all 48 countries in Asia as well as Australia and Israel were present and more than 78,000 attended the event, which was live broadcast in over 180 countries, reaching more than 1.7 billion viewers via live TV and streaming services.
The show, the largest government-sponsored entertainment event ever hosted in China, featured over 10,000 performers throughout the evening—including Jackie Chan, Lang Lang, Wang Leehom and Dimash Kudaibergen—who were dressed in costumes worth more than $60 million. The incredible LED light curtain at the show won the Guinness World Record for the largest LED Light Curtain. The event received more than 1 million social likes, and empowered each nation to showcase its traditional dances, songs, and costumes.
Later that same year, Julius was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Ischia Global Fest award for his decades of innovation, creativity and service to the film and music industries. Julius has presented the award by legendary composer, songwriter, producer and film actor, Tony Renis and Alessandro Salem of Mediaset.