Friday, March 26, 2010

Endeavor Cinema Group

The Endeavor Cinema Group, based in Fort Worth, has been around several years but has recently seen a rebirth.
Board member Vicki White explained the beginnings of the group that started with founder Carlos Aguilar.
“It was started several years ago,” she said. “He started out highlighting independent film artists. He picked it back up last year with a board and advisory group. “It’s a platform for artists just staring out.”
White explained that the group not only features the work of those just starting out, but also offers education programs, writing workshops and other events to further the skills and opportunities of those wanting to make their living in movies.
She said the whole vision is to put people together – sound people, writers, camera people, actors, directors, producers – to offer the connections to help with education and careers.
“For me, I’m a playwright,” said Chuck Latham, a registered nurse and a member of the board. “I have a number of plays that are Christian. When I heard about this, I wanted to be a part of it. I had all these plays in my head. There’s no place out there for people like me.”
He said it is not only a place to receive encouragement, but also a place to give back.
“It’s for the community,” Latham said of the organization. “We hope talented people can see this as an opportunity to give back to the community.”
I am a long-time musician and I have written and directed a lot of shorts,” said Aguilar. “My passion has always been film.”
He said part of the impetus for the group he founded was because he had never had the opportunity to pursue his passion for film.
“It’s actually been my passion for about 10 years to bring the community together,” he added. “Something to organize every facet, to create – set design, photography, digital photos …”
To showcase the work of those involved in the program, ECG held a screening in Fort Worth to highlight the creativity of three directors – Dennis O’Neill, Aaron Kirk and Jason Baumgardner.
O’Neill showed his latest venture, “Bail Out,” while Kirk screened “Night Job” and Baumgardner presented “The League.”
“Bail Out” was filmed in Mineral Wells, Cool and Fort Worth, using local talent and some who better known for their acting skills.
The proposed television series follows New York detective Jimmy O’Neill to Fort Worth after he gets cross wise with the mob and his bosses. There his uncle asks him take over the bail bond company. But he calls his long-time partner, played by veteran actor Terry Kiser, to come to Texas with him. Together they begin private investigations.
“Night Job” is about a man who sees too much pain and suffering and wants to fight crime – on his terms.
“It started out I wanted to write about a man who wanted to fight crime, wanted to do it on his own,” said Kirk. “The main character works in ER, he wants to try to get out there and counter it.”
But he needed a mentor, someone who knew the ropes.
“Dennis’ (O’Neill) character’s daughter was attacked,” he said, adding that the main character learns, they find criminals and “take care of business.”
“The League” is a different story – one about fantasy football.
Baumgardner explained that the main character enjoys fantasy football but ends up getting involved for a $1 million gamble. He’s short on money, his wife is expecting but the main difficulty was watching his father lose his fortune during the crash of the ’80s and finally gambling in Atlantic City.
“We’ve had good support on YouTube,” said Baumgardner, adding that there are about 24 episodes.
O’Neill plays the father.
“He’s an ex-stockbroker with a gambling problem,” said O’Neill. “There’s danger he doesn’t know about.”
And O’Neill has another project working. He has a role on the USA network’s series “In Plain Sight.”
“I go back to New Mexico March 22nd for more fiming,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s more than one episode.”
“It’s a passion, I have a passion for the arts,” Aguilar said.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bail Out

A tough, gritty New York cop gets crosswise with the mob and his superiors and leaves the Big Apple, ending up in Fort Worth.
“Jimmy O’Neill leaves New York,” said Dennis O’Neill, director, writer and actor in the proposed television series “Bail Out.” “He lost his girl, is having problems with the (police) department and hits a mob guy who is on the city council.”
Thus is the premise of “Bail Out,” a production of O’Neill, that was filmed with people from Mineral Wells, Millsap, Fort Worth and members of the acting class he teaches in Fort Worth.
“Originally we did a class project – it just took off from there,” O’Neill said, noting that it wasn’t long until it became a serious project.
“We had 22 people involved, it came down to five of us,” he added.
Those five are Pattie Walters Hart, a producer from Cool and daughter-in-law of Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bobby Hart; Dana Brumley, producer; Julie Hutt, assistant director; David Pinkston, direction of photography; and O’Neill, the primary writer, director and star of the series.
He said they had the character and the story, but it would change numerous times.
“I really didn’t know where I wanted the character to go,” he said of the initial development of the story.
But as his team put together more and more ideas, he began to see an outline for the program.
As the main character developed, played by O’Neill, it became more and more like someone he knew – O’Neill’s brother, Jimmy, who died four years ago.
“No one on the team knows my family,” he said.
The trailer for the show has humor and action with real people.
“Some of the things in ‘Bail Out’ really happened,” O’Neill said.
He reflected that, when he first arrived in Texas, he went to a grocery store where the clerk asked, “How y’all doin’?”
“Why?” he said he answered, cautious because no one in New York ever asked such a question unless they were looking to create a problem.
“‘Just thought I’d ask,’” he said the clerk answered.
“I was really suspicious, I really didn’t get it,” O’Neill added.
“One thing we all agreed on, we didn’t want him coming from New York not liking Texas,” Hart said of the character. “We wanted him to fall in love with Texas.”
Of the people portrayed, there are no exaggerated drawls or mannerisms.
“We wanted them to be just the way they are,” she said.
Locally, Judge Bobby Hart plays – a judge. The trailer has him in his courtroom in the Poston Building in Mineral Wells. There were also scenes shot at the Mineral Wells Police Department, Holiday Inn Express, Nancy’s Italian Texan Grill and locations in Cool and Millsap.
Other local talent included Lucas Mitchell and Doug Hart, son of Bobby Hart.
Co-starring with O’Neill is Terry Kiser, perhaps best known for his role as the deceased Bernie in the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
The music for the show, “Southern Lullaby,” was written by Caleb Williams and performed by his band, Noltey. Williams, who graduated from Santo, is a cousin of Pattie Hart.
“What we needed was a song,” said O’Neill, adding that Hart suggested her cousin who he thought was someone who just thought they could sing.
“She lent me his CD,” he continued. “Two weeks later I listened to the CD. ‘Oh my gosh, she really has a cousin who sings.’”
Hart said she called Williams and explained in a few words what they were looking for – something that was closer to talk, but not, and not rap.
Two weeks later she brought the recording, “Southern Lullaby.”
“She just came to the school with the CD,” said O’Neill. “When I played it, I could not have written a better song.”
O’Neill and Hart continue to try to market it as either a TV series or made-for-television movie.
“We have a possible investor,” he said. “He wants to help us raise money for a movie or six episodes. We’re pitching it everyday.”
And part of that sales pitch is showing the trailer whenever possible. O’Neill said it will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 14, at Four Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St., in Fort Worth. In addition, “Bail Out” has Facebook and YouTube sites.
The series tag line, “Everybody has a story,” certainly applies, both to the proposed series and the people making it a reality.