Hells Gate

Click to listen to the Pilot Episode

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Astoria Filmmakers Club Original


Logline: This is a story of the culture in the FDNY during the previous decade of 9/11. 

Synopsis: The term “legacy” in the FDNY is the father son tradition of becoming a Firefighter. Fireland is about a young man, Ben Sheperd who is reluctant to filling in his fathers boots in as a NYC Fireman because Ben suffers from PTSD from the Gulf War, operation desert storm. After being discharged Ben had been signed up to become a Fireman by his mother. In each episode we see the heroin Ben Sheperd go rescue encounters with his new brothers guiding, teaching and mentoring him just as they were for generations before him. Each episodes covers a time in FDNY history of when lives were lost and through this new warlike zone all the traditions and skills are past to Ben. 

Tone: This is a nonfictional WAR-Drama divided into one hour episodes. Similar to Band of Brother and with foreshadowing political elements of THE WIRE. All the episodes are based on the book, “Coming Through the Flames” by retired Firemen Chris Edwards. Like in Band of Brothers each episodes opens with an FDNY Veteran telling a story about being on the job and the love and loss of their brothers. In each episodes we have foreshadowing contexts similar to THE WIRE that leads through the 1990’s inside the militant culture of the FDNY. Ben struggles to balance his life and becomes a bit of an adrenaline junky around fire. He self medicates with alcohol to reinforce a firewall of his emotion. 

Characters: Ben Sheperd is a former “boxer” who struggled with alcoholism since he was a teenager. After enlisting to get away from the Mafia controlled neighborhood of Canarsie, Ben is able to create a better life for him and his wife Regina. Unable to sustain a steady income after the war his mother signed Ben up to be a Firefighter. Regina works for the Trama center in Brooklyn as a registered nurse and is pregnant with their first baby. Regina being the bread winner compels Ben to raise his standards and join the FDNY. 

Pilot: Ben excels in all of Bravo Company at the physical and written requirements at the FDNY academy , also known as “The Rock”. Before graduation Ben and “The Bravo Boys” celebrate numerous times drinking, but  Bens demons come back to haunt him at a strip club one night with two short weeks left at The Rock. He returned home after a hostile bar fight to an angry wife whose water breaks weeks before the baby was due. Regina gives Ben an ultimatum to choose his role as a responsible father and husband or they’re done for good. Ben returns to the academy with a strong conviction to be sovereign, but after a life threatening accident involving one of the bravo boys Ben’s career as a Fireman is now in the hands of the FDNY Commissioner. 

Season 1: There is no better teacher than experience and in Engine 81, Ladder 87 Ben is mentored by senior fireman Lenny who goes into the heart of every call the house gets. Ben undergoes a growing masculinity chain of events that forge him into a man through out the series. Based on many true story’s from autobiography “Coming Through the Flames” the series covers a full decade of war, drama, comedy, action and horror. Each episode prepares Ben for his final battle, the World Trade Center terrorist attack on September 11th 2001.

Coming Through The Flames Book link

Phillip M. Cappadora Jr.
Creator / President

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FDNYs Chris Edwards talks about 9/11

Fireland Episode 1: Hells Gate

Written by Phil Cappadora

The PodCast Play Cast  

Phil Cappadora as Ben Sheperd

 Katt Gerardi as Regina Sheperd

Katt Rardi is a Writer, Actress and Musician from NYC. She is currently pursuing acting in Los Angeles. She began performing at the ripe age of 3 through community theatre and choir. She is a soulful singer and recording artist, and an authentic actor with great comedic timing. Training includes: Acting Technique at WILLIAM ESPER and On Going Classes at David Gray Studios.


Annie Pisapia as Joann Sheperd

Evans Formica as Pop


Mellissa Falen as Lynnette 

Melissa is a recently retired college coach and associate professor.  She got her first gig as an extra in Lady of the Lake (Apple TV) in October 2022 and decided to pursue acting and voiceover opportunities.  Since then, in addition to other background roles, she has had had several speaking and voice-over roles in short films, podcasts, and a Ticfy Prime series. 

Jamilla Schuster as Rita


Mark Gale as Alex Delrio

I'm an actor and voiceover artist based in Philadelphia. My journey in acting has been a six-year adventure where I've focused on improving my skills. I've had the chance to train at the Actors Lab in the Philly area and Nick Conti's Professional Actors Studio in Atlanta.

Being part of "Fireland" has been a great experience. I've had the pleasure of collaborating with many talented actors and professionals. I approach each project with enthusiasm, dedication, and a commitment to delivering genuine and memorable performances as I continue to grow as an actor.


Rocky Coates as Michael

~ Liam Sweeney as Jake

A New York/Boston based actor, writer, model, and voice over artist. Ithaca College ’16.  Liam is very proud of the hard work and determination of everyone involved in this project and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. Throughout these difficult times of uncertainty, we all have to band together to keep each other strong. Our craft is our passion and our passion gives us life. Thank you to all my friends and family for all their support. Cheers.


Steven Hall as Oscar

As a survivor of 9/11 (John worked at Windows on the World
restaurant on the 107th floor, Tower One) John would like to
thank the Astoria Film Club, Phil Cappadora and Clay Clement
for the oustanding job putting this challenging project


Duane Michaels as Capp
For over two years, actor/writer Duane Michaels has been entertaining audiences on stage, on television, and in theaters with his unique acting talent. A military and law enforcement veteran, Duane has many skills that have allowed him to appear in movies and television programs. Duane started his career playing a villain in the action drama feature Promise land. Since his debut he has starred in roles such as a Vampire on the series Ending it all, a husband in a short film The one you love, Camping World commercials ,and will be appearing in the upcoming new Tubi produced series Spilled Paint as the Russian mob boss Zuri. Duane will also be seen in the upcoming feature film GPS as a Police officer.  


Bruce Lipsky as The Chief

In 2022, I got the acting “bug” and started pursuing opportunities within this industry. I was fortunate to land some VoiceOver roles in cartoons and an audio drama and was cast in the movie: “Dragon Eats Eagle”. I also have done several background/extra roles in various TV and film productions, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Mindy Wirth as the Nurse

Nejla Aktash (Hazel) as Debbie

Nejla was born in Sunnyside NYC. Nejla is an actress, and a signed model. At a young age Nejla performed with The Sunnyside Drum Corps and was also actively involved with her community. She has been featured in many local and national articles for her works as an actor/performer.
Along with acting and modeling she enjoys singing and is also a Brand Ambassador and a karaoke host.

Madilyn Bunzey as Trixy

Dedicated to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

We did not Forget.


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