AFM: New, Coming Up and Thriving - Part 1



AFM: Unsullied - Dreamline Productions

AFM, while being hectic can also be an exciting matchmaker.  Two years ago a persistent Nebraska native, Craig Albrecht, who knew he wanted to be in the film industry no matter what, met up with Rick Spalla.  Craig joined Rick at his company, HIP Films. Moving to Hollywood 22 years ago, he took whatever job he could in the industry to learn the trade moving up from boom operator to assistant director and finally executive producer.  "Persistence is the key," he said, "I want to inspire people never to give up their dreams."  He says he owes his success to his father who gave him the courage to be what he had to be.

AFM: The Treasure of Pirates Cove - HIP Films


 Rick, a USC grad whose family has a Hollywood history, already had a documentary under his belt.  "And The Oscar Goes To" celebrates the story of the Academy Awards using footage that his father, the pioneer of entertainment news format for television had taken while interviewing stars.  Rick also did Angels and Stardust with Billy Burke.  Together, these two have developed a new franchise.  Treasures of the Pirates Cove - written by Chip Fraser and Jeff Butscher - will be part of a trilogy that they hope will appeal to children and adults alike.  The story, a time-travel tale, deals with pirates returning to present day North Carolina seeking the treasure they lost in the 1700's as they tangle with modern day kids.    "It's Goonies meets Home Alone and Back To The Future."  While they are still talking with major stars, they do have some in their back pockets already and have interest from China, France and other territories.   "Fifteen years ago, this film could not have been done without special effects, but we are going to make it on a modest budget.   In the future, they plan to pursue other family oriented films. 

AFM: Simeon Rice, NFL Star and Dreamline Productions


Stars are always a draw and NFL stars are heavy among them. Simeon Rice, head of Dreamline Productions and assisted by Michelle Gracie, bring Unsullied to the screen.  Retiring from football, Rice went back to school to educate himself on storytelling and filmmaking.  He wrote and directed the movie.   While it's their first time at AFM they are excited by their reception.  An action suspense thriller, Unsullied is inspired by a true story of a young girl, her quest and her family turmoil and survival. "The model for filmmaking has changed so much.  Producers are clinging to the cookie cutter mould of what your lead should look like.  People need to see what is real."  Since it's an action thriller, she needed someone who could run track.  "People might say it's a black movie, but there is only one black actor involved in it.  I chose the right actor for the role because I wanted to break out of type casting.  What people take away from the movie is the character and the cast.  It's about living with choices and taking control of your life."  Michelle says "Simeon puts women in the power seat in his films."  It's nice to see someone with Rice's fame putting his faith and ability in the people business.  "Our goal is to entertain people and we have a whole slate of films waiting to come out."  Michelle also produced Me, You and $5 - a modern love story. 


AFM: Audrey Beth and Phillip Penza of Little Books, Little Films

Miracles do happen and one never knows who is sitting next to you on the plane.  Phillip Penza of Little Books/ Little Films had just that experience.  Growing up in the rougher neighbor of the Bronx, Philip fought gangs and struggled to keep his self-esteem up, despite what was happening around him.  Owing a lot of strength to his mother - one of the first female black cops in New York City-- he learned that he had to fight his way out of many situations and became a champion military boxer defeating not only his mortal enemies but many of his inner demons.  Writing for his passion, he penned the book, "My Name Is Nobody," which tells how he grew to realize that he is somebody.  It was on a cross country trip that he met David Rosemont.  Having no idea who sat next to him, Philip, at first, didn't want to talk to his neighbor but David coaxed the story out of him and suggested that he publish the book.  Not only did David assist Philip with his story, but he taught him the basics of filmmaking.   At this, Philip's first AFM, he has made major steps forward in promoting "My Name Is Nobody," the film and has several others planned for the future.  "I believe in people," he said, "and I like helping people achieve their dreams. We are dedicated to helping others."  He truly is paying it forward.  Now, he works, also, as a motivational speaker to get kids out of gangs.   Future titles include "Nobody's Friends," and "The Secret Life of Billy The Kid," as well as  TV shows - The Messenger and Just Leo.   He has offices in Portland, Arizona and now Los Angeles.  Accompanied by his devoted wife, Audrey Beth, who is quite an actress, herself, the pair should go far in the film business. 


AFM: My Name Is Nobody - Little Books, Little Films

"Some films are never finished -- just abandoned," says Dan Forrer of Propinquity Films.  "The market decides what it wants and indy films must struggle to keep up with the times.  With the DVD market nearly dead, it's harder to get an independent film out now and many get lost in the shuffle as everyone grabs for a distributor." Dan pointed out that "films are really a lot of team effort.  It takes a lot for a movie to come together and producers have to bear the brunt of the work, especially in the indy world."  He warned producers that you need to plan to spend as most as much on print and advertising as you do on the film, itself, if you want to get noticed.  Coming to the market this year with two thrillers, Nocturnal - a pop art historic-- and Control -  an erotic thriller, he sees thrillers and action adventure as staples of the industry as these are the easiest to sell overseas.  With a TV background, Dan also produced the documentary, Sample This


AFM: Exposure - The Movie Studio

Hailing from sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Gordon Scott Venters of The Movie Studio believes in building stars and stories and not buying them.  Having been trained in fashion, Gordon's films are full of color and balance.  He also wisely put a sound track for Exposure in Target stores to entice people to his movies and his company has just gone public on the stock market.  He brought Corey Feldman back for roles in his trilogy - Exposure, Double Exposure and Triple Exposure.  These thrillers  have super models becoming super agents.  Fun stuff.  They also feature a rising star, Excelina Ordenoz, a new Sophia Vergara and former Miss Columbia.  Her next role will be in Bad Actress - a comedy of super proportions.   Devoted to her career and her family, Excelina still sends money back to her mother in Columbia conscious of the values she was raised with.  "God has plans for me and I am just following."


AFM: Mimi Lesseos of Action Diva Media,LLC

 Conscious of how women were viewed in the media, a single mother of twins, and having had a successful martial arts career, herself,and one of the top female grapplers/wrestlers in the world,  Mimi Lesseos of Action Diva Media,LLC created a starring role for herself and other women to follow as role models. "Women need to feel empowered."  Her films, which she wrote and directed herself,  show regular women gaining strengths and becoming super heroes.  Personal Vendetta, one of my favorites, highlights the true art of 'street fighting'."I wanted to prove that a female action hero can take on the best of opponents and still maintain feminine qualities."  Double Duty, another of her films, stars Tom Sizemore.  "I had to fight hard for everything I have and I want women to have a good role model to follow.  At the AFM, she was selling her reality series "America's Superwomen: Next Action Diva."   "I would like the female heroine of the future to be feminine and vulnerable, yet tough and savvy.  She should be able to fight her way out of a dangerous situation without being sexually exploited.  There haven't been mahy of those roles available to women, but I think audiences are realy for a strong female chararacter they can respect who is still feminine and can kick ass." An established actor, as well, Mimi has appeared in numerous shows. Currently six other films are planned for the future.  This champion stunt woman, martial artist, writer, director and filmmaker can do it all. 


AFM: Action Diva Media LLC

Films can be inspired from anywhere as the lovely ladies of Australia - Jenny Walsh and Lesley Hammond will tell you. Their Shoreline Entertainment film, Symphomy of the Wild is a mixture of classical music and and animal mischief. They spent hours studying the animals and hope to inspire young people to enjoy the wild as they do.  

AFM: HIP Films - Craig Albrecht and Rick Spalla

The AFM extended from Wednesday, November 5, 2014 to November 12.  


Stayed tuned for part two….



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