Rocco Simonelli - Screenwriter

Screenwriter/Director/Author Rocco Simonelli's home on the web.

            Welcome to Rocco Simonelli's web site

ROCCO SIMONELLI is a screenwriter with a half dozen produced screen credits in a variety of genres.  He is co- creator (with Roy Frumkes)  of THE SUBSTITUTE movie franchise, the writer-director of the independent romantic comedy THE SWEET LIFE, and co-author   (also with Roy Frumkes) of the book SHOOT ME: INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING FROM CREATIVE CONCEPT TO ROUSING RELEASE.  He has taught writing and storytelling courses at the School of Visual Arts and Marymount College in New York.  To peruse Rocco's professional bio, click on ABOUT  ME.  Log lines for spec screenplays Rocco has authored or co-authored can be found in the BLOG area.  Examples of Rocco's written work are available in DOCUMENTS.  In the GALLERY section, you can check out photos, posters and DVD covers for films he has authored.  Go to LINKS to purchase Rocco's movies and books, and to see other recommended sites.

"This is powerful stuff.  It’s Berenger’s best work since PLATOON.  And (his character) Shale, as written by Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli, brings real intelligence to his chaotic classroom."

THE SWEET LIFE on DVD from Synapse Films is now available for pre-order at!

"THE SWEET LIFE is hilarious, keenly observed, and chock full of refreshing details and insights."  

“Self-aware, inconspicuously funny, and corny without the cheese, THE SWEET LIFE is the anti-romantic comedy, a love story that guys can like. 3 stars!"    STINA CHYN, FILMTHREAT.COM  

Watch the trailer for THE SWEET LIFE (coming soon from Synapse Films) starring James Lorinz (FRANKENHOOKER, THE JERKY BOYS), Barbara Sicuranza (MARGARITA HAPPY HOUR) and rock music icon Joan Jett.       


You can read about Rocco's and producer/collaborator Roy Frumkes' often harrowing but always illuminating experiences making THE SWEET LIFE in their book SHOOT ME: INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING FROM CREATIVE CONCEPT TO ROUSING RELEASE, published by Allworth Press and available anywhere on the web where books are sold.  There's Rocco on the cover reaching past a chagrined Joan Jett for the last whole wheat bagel.  Big mistake.

"SHOOT ME is the best book I've ever read on the topic of independent filmmaking."      GEORGE ROMERO


And while we're on the subject of books, check out Rocco's novel HITCHCOCKED (written with Hal Spear), a fast-paced collision of romance, comedy and adventure.

"HITCHCOCKED is the verbal equivalent of a box of Cracker Jacks, and the prize is that it is every bit as tightly constructed as  a good movie.  If you want to learn the bones of commercial screen writing in your undershirt while eating Haagen Dazs and laughing your head off, go to Amazon right now and order HITCHCOCKED!"                              MARY LEE GRISANTI,            FILMSINREVIEW.COM     



"The Substitute, from a screenplay by Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli, has a tough, world-weary performance by Mr. Berenger along with a menacing classroom ambiance that makes The Blackboard Jungle look like Sunnybrook Farm.”

              Stephen Holden,  The New York Times 



“I had a good time with this sequel.  Credit for this can be given to writers Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli.   As in the original there is plenty of violence along with some well placed humor.” 
                                   Eric Reifschneider,         



The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All is the best Substitute sequel.  The action scenes are plentiful and Treat Williams handles himself well during the hand-to-hand combat.”           

The Substitute 3 pulls no punches in delivering a hefty dose of the old ultra-violence. The interplay between the characters, the amusing dialogue, the fun set-pieces, and a great mobster takedown finale is so wonderfully violent (and utterly merciless) that viewer satisfaction is ultimately delivered.

                                                                     David Brock,


The following is posted at Mondo Digital  (

Starring Monique Van De Ven, Esmee de la Bretoniere, Kenneth Herdigein / Written by Leon de Winter, based on an original script by Rocco Simonelli from a story by Roy Frumkes  Produced by Chris Brouwer & Haig Balian / Cinematography by Theo Bierkens
Directed by Rudolf Van Den Berg

The Johnsons, a Dutch horror film obviously targeted for an English language release, strangely failed to receive an American release in any format until its long overdue presentation on video by Anchor Bay. Fortunately, the wait has not been in vain as the film looks and sounds far better than the bootlegs and import prints floating around for years; also, the running commentary by Van Den Berg, Rocco Simonelli and Roy Frumkes provides even more of an appreciation for this odd, strangely effective tale of cultural displacement and familial horror.
   While The Johnsons contains its fair share of gory thrills, particularly in the rousing final half hour, the overall mood is one of subliminal menace lurking beneath the delicate sheen of reality, in the best tradition of Val Lewton. The most powerful images are driven home more by suggestion than explicit gore, and Monique Van De Ven, best known for her sexy appearances in Paul Verhoeven's dramas and the thriller Amsterdamned, makes a compelling maternal heroine, a welcome change from the usual teens in peril.  Director Van Den Berg's sociological film background serves him well as he uses environment to mirror the characters' evolving, disintegrating personas and reflect the bizarre cultural clashes occurring within Europe.  A spooky little gem that makes one long for the golden days of European horror. 

ME AND THE MOB (aka Who Do I Gotta Kill?)

"A master of offbeat comic timing, James Lorinz is in top form here, delivering his distracted asides and side-of-the-mouth remarks as fate and the mob bounce him from one sticky situation to the next." 
     Phantom of the Movies, NY Daily News

"Dumbfellas meet writer's block (with) rapid-fire dialog and black humor.   A colorized Danny Rose with bits of Play It Again, Sam stirred in.  Sandra Bullock scores a raunchy cameo."                             Derek Elley, Variety


Read SWIRLEE, one of the greatest movies never made

Click on DOCUMENTS in the content bar at the top of the page to read the feature length SWIRLEE screenplay. 

The following was posted on “The Lost Movies” blog:

"James Lorinz was an actor known for his performances in cult films like Frankenhooker and Street Trash, who had an idea for an exploitation movie in the gangster genre where the main protagonist wasn't quite human.  Thus Swirlee  (a gangster story about a man made out of ice cream) was born. Lorinz took some money and (with producer Roy Frumkes) shot  a fifteen minute promotional short featuring a young David Caruso. Surprisingly this is played completely straight with touching performances including a scene where Swirlee tries to kill himself by taking a hot bath. The feature length screenplay written by Rocco Simonelli (which he also adapted for the short version) references the thalidomide scandal of the 60's  and grounds itself in reality by explaining that Swirlee's condition was caused by an anti-miscarriage drug taken by his mother during pregnancy. Whatever food expectant mothers craved and ate in  excess while expecting would then be manifested in the newborn  child, leading to a scene in an eerie hospital ward where you see a pizza baby and a pickle baby.

When the project would be pitched at meetings, Lorinz would describe it as Dick Tracy and Edward Scissorhands meets Mean Streets. Sadly, unimaginative studio heads couldn't grasp the concept and wanted to make Swirlee as more of a children's movie. They had trouble with the dark and downbeat nature of the script. The test footage has only been seen by a few people and was televised when David Caruso became famous through NYPD Blue. This could have been one of those great films you discover on late night TV and never quite forget."

You can watch the Swirlee trailer on You Tube.   

Click here:  Swirlee Trailer