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Thu, 08/01/2002 - 01:00
Robert Patton Spruill continues to promote independent filmmaking through his company FilmShack.By Natasha S. Downing
It may not seem possible to become a professional screenwriter, director, producer and entrepreneur all before you hit 30-something. But Robert Patton-Spruill did it.
With a solid background in theatre at the age of 20, Spruill joined the Writer’s Guild of America with over 50 productions on and offstage already under his belt. At the time, Spruill also wrote screenplays for American Playhouse WGBH in Boston and worked as a casting director for Collinge/Pickman Casting.
"That early on in my life I realized film is permanent... [whereas] theatre is temporary. You take the set down, but film you see it forever. I decided to dedicate my life to that," Spruill said.
While at Boston University, he wrote the screenplay "Squeeze" which was developed in conjunction to his volunteer work at Dorchester Youth Collaborative.
The film was a major success story. The students who played the cast received critical acclaim from IFP West "Spirit Award" nomination. Since then, some of the cast has moved on to Hollywood in the WB network show "The Parenthood." In 1996, Miramax bought "Squeeze" at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and later, the William Morris Agency in Hollywood signed Spruill for international representation. Spruill then went on to direct the film "Body Count" for Polygram Filmed Entertainment currently airing on Showtime.
In 1998 FilmShack was born and later housed in an old ambulance facility located in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The building with its metal casing and shack like effect was affectionately named FilmShack. When asked why he decided to center his company in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he said simply: "I’m a brick and mortar type of guy. It’s where I live and where I grew up."
FilmShack is a three-tier film and video company helping to produce and co-finance low-budget independent films and making film production accessible to more filmmakers. The company’s mission is to empower independent filmmakers by giving them the tools necessary to create, execute and distribute their work.
FilmShack provides film and video equipment at low cost to filmmakers. In addition, they consult to regional filmmakers in all aspects of the process from producing to storyboarding to editing. In other cases, FilmShack acts as a production company, developing scripts from pre-production, through production and post-production.
FilmShack produced two features in 2001 -- "Draft Dodging," a romp through 20-something angst and "Edge of Darkness," a Film Noir/ Kung Fu movie directed by and starring Jason Yee.
What is next for FilmShack and this 30-something entrepreneur? "We’re working on a multi-media campaign for Public Enemy -- a commercial then a music video for the album called, ‘Revolverlution’ [Public Enemy’s 8th album, July 23rd]."
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