Atlantan Don DiPetta’s latest film chronicles a military veteran’s journey

The indie drama ‘A Place in the Field’ is now available on demand.
Don DiPetta attends the premiere for "Gaslit" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, April 18, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Don DiPetta attends the premiere for "Gaslit" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, April 18, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Don DiPetta grew up around show business. HIs father Chris DiPetta runs Atlanta’s Punchline Comedy Club. Jeff Foxworthy and his wife Pam used to babysit Don. Chris manages actor and stand-up comic Billy Gardell (”Mike & Molly,” “Bob Hearts Abishola”), who would stay with the DiPettas when he did shows at the Punchline and throw a football around with Don and his brother.

DiPetta, when he was older, worked at the Punchline as a bartender, doorman and parking lot attendant. For a brief time, he was even the manager.

Now at age 34, he is a full-time actor in Hollywood with credits such as CBS’s “The Equalizer,” Starz’s “Gaslit” and Oscar-winning film “The Green Book.” And he wrote and starred in an indie drama that Lionsgate recently released on video on demand called “A Place in the Field.”

DiPetta plays Gio Scuderi, a military Army veteran who finds out a close friend and fellow soldier had died of suicide, which sends him on a road trip that helps deal with many of his unresolved traumas and anxieties stemming from his time in the field.

Reviewers have given DiPetta plaudits for his portrayal of Gio. “His resentment and simmering anger hide beneath the surface like a pot about to boil over,” wrote critic Liz Whittemore. “Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, DiPetta’s vulnerability is what captivates.”

When the pandemic began, sidelining regular TV and film gigs as well as his burgeoning stand-up career, DiPetta pivoted. He and some friends finished up the script for “A Place in the Field” and began shooting in the summer of 2020 when hardly anybody was working.

DiPetta wouldn’t say what the budget was but he said it was very much DIY. He rented lighting and sound equipment for a song. He was able to borrow cameras for free. His girlfriend Nicole Mejia directed. They spent a month at a Santa Fe, Texas, ranch then wended their way to California in an RV and two cars.

“We were one of the first movies back in production,” DiPetta said in a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It felt like an old independent film from the 1960s. We shot in all these wide open spaces with hardly anybody around in White Sands, New Mexico, and the Grand Canyon.”

In early 2021, after they raised some more money, they shot 10 more days, much of it flashback war scenes. Post production took all of 2021. They entered the film into festivals in 2022. Then Lionsgate, one of the biggest production companies in the country, picked the movie up for distribution.

:A Place in the Field" is a movie about a veteran Gio (Don DiPetta, right) on a road trip with his friend Herbert (Khorri Ellis). LIONSGATE


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“I’m really excited that it’s out,” DiPetta said. “I have friends who have been in the military and some are still active. One of my writers was active military. I wanted to highlight them and make sure the conversations sounded authentic.”

He also didn’t want Gio to be a stereotypical vet suffering from violent PTSD. “They’re often seen as out of control, in a downward spiral, falling apart, doing drugs. But there are a lot of people simply struggling in silence. These are normal people reintegrating into society. There is hope. There is healing if you’re open to it.”

The film shows Gio working through his issues via guided psychedelic therapy using mushrooms, equine therapy and simply talking to other vets. “We wanted to show all this in a positive light,” DiPetta said.

He said when veterans have screened the movie, they asked DiPetta if he had previously served. He has not and “that’s the greatest compliment for an actor,” he said.

DiPetta didn’t originally dream of being an actor. The Kennesaw native originally pursued a career as a professional baseball player but didn’t make it past the independent leagues. “I was 22 and I found myself back in Atlanta,” DiPetta said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

So in 2011, he and some friends drove out to Los Angeles, where his father had an apartment. Don decided to stay and take acting classes. Despite his father’s connections in the business, DiPetta didn’t take advantage of them.

“I really didn’t open many doors for him at all,” Chris DiPetta said. “He really did it all on his own.”

The younger DiPetta said he was hardly an overnight success.

“To be able to lead a Lionsgate studio film has given me confidence,” he said. “I was kicking around for more than 10 years. Roles are starting to come more. And it was a great experience to learn how to make a movie from soup to nuts.”


“A Place in the Field,” available on demand Apple TV, YouTube, Amazon and other platforms for $5.99 rental.