CER- Well, I actually started back in the late 80’s with a company named ZIO Productions. The movies ‘Mismatch’ and ‘Lady Law’ were produced under that label and later transferred to the new Roman Pictures label, established in 1999.
Roman Pictures was created because I decided to have more control and to fulfill my dream of having a company run by people that could be also like a family. People that will care about each other and also about the quality of the work they do for our company. It took many years and many people, but, little by little I think I have accomplished my dream. Now I have a group of people that are all for the success of Roman Pictures and every project we take on.
My top associates, Assistant Producer and actress, Sharon Carpenter-Rose and Cinematographer and Special Effects guru, Lewis Fraga, are at the front helm with me, making sure what we produce is only top quality, no compromises here, from scripting to casting through production to post and finished product: mistakes are not an option., and there’s no such thing as ”that’ll do.”
ED- What are the goals of your company?
CER- Simply, to make good movies, with concepts that are original, no remakes, and using the best talent from the area. That’s why my latest film “Signals,” has now won two awards: The Award of Merit this year at the Accolade film fest (accoladecompetition.org), and the Best Action Feature Award last year at the New York Int’l Ind. Film & Video Festival (nyfilmvideo.com). And this is why I tend to get attached to good actors—they are a big part of the package when it comes to winning awards, which is the reason why I created the Roman Pictures A1-List. If you see an actor there, you can rest assured he’s professional and excels at his trade. Lately we found out the A-list has been visited regularly by some of the big names in the business; so, we are revamping it and removing/adding new actors. Myself and my closest associates, Sharon Carpenter-Rose, Kevin Troy, Rachel Youngson, Sandy Lisiewski, and Darrell Poe, just to name a few, go out of our way to come up with out of the box concepts and actively looking for ways to help our latest projects. If we find out an idea has already been done or, after implementing it, is not working out the way we expect it, we dump it immediately and move on to the next. It’s not just about the fun of making movies and projects, it is a business and my wife, Judith Roman, a very successful CPA, is the one we have to answer to. Another free tip for new filmmakers, get yourself a good accountant, treat it as a business or the IRS will treat it as a hobby, an expensive hobby.
ED- In 1999 you produced a slew of films for the viewing audience. Tell us about your films ‘Geezers’ and ‘Lady Law’.
CER- ‘Lady Law’ I wrote in a week during my vacation at Marco Island. It was shot in a month. I wrote it to give my then partner a starring role, while I played second banana. Again, for the times, it was different, out of the box, and was taken to Cannes and AFM by Alcano of London.
‘Geezers’ was way ahead of its time. Young adults weren’t interested; baby boomers didn’t want to admit they were getting old. I’m working on an updated version with the same actors. The plan is to show “old” doesn’t mean “dead” or even close to it.
ED- In the same year you produced ‘Mismatch I’ and ‘Mismatch II’. Please tell our readers all about these films.
CER- My first movie, ‘Mismatch’ is perhaps the reason I continued in this business for so long. I had never produced a movie before; I just worked producing some commercials and writing scripts in my spare time. Jumping into a full production like ‘Mismatch’ was scary but also proved to be addictive. For a first time writer, director and actor, I was honored by having the AFI theater, then located at the Kennedy Center For The Arts, to have a big red carpet premiere, followed by a few distribution companies wanting to distribute and ending with A1-Entertainment taking my partner and I to LA and finalizing the distribution contract. Unfortunately, I was younger and naïve, so, to make a long story short, I got ripped off, big time. A word of advice to all new filmmakers, there is no such thing as a “Standard Distribution Contract” and no, you don’t know it all.
By the way, ‘Mismatch’ is a 3 hour 8 minute movie. We made it available on Amazon in 2 parts, hence the I and II.
Needless to say, ‘Mismatch’ was a success and eventually I took control of it. I traveled for a Premiere in Argentina and later in Peru.
ED- In 2008 you produced a film that is definitely ‘our cup of tea’. Your film ‘Signals’ fits our genre interests. Please tell us about it and the theme behind it.
CER- ‘Signals’ (signalstv.com) is inspired by an actual CIA project known as MK Ultra, conducted on US soldiers during the 1950’s. Soldiers for both the U.S. and Russian governments were the subjugate victims of the remote viewing, mind control and behavior modification experiments of MK Ultra. The story centers around American soldier Nick Marconi, after surviving decades of abuse and chemical experimentation at the hands of both countries, who eventually escapes from the confines of the U.S. government. Little did they know, they had unwittingly created a man who can heal himself and others, does not age, and has powers such as telekinesis and remote viewing. While on the run, not only does he discover and begin using these powers, he also discovers that he has a child created through artificial insemination with sperm collected from Nick while being held as a test subject by the government. Zack’s powers are ten-fold that of Nick’s, and after finding out that Zack and his mother are also on the run from Russian and American agents, Nick must find them before they are captured and “disappear” beneath the secret government cloak of experimentation and exploitation. Since MK Ultra was a very real operation, our story simply begs the question, “what if…?” ‘Signals’ gave me the opportunity to find great new talent to work with and, once I find them, I like to keep them for great projects.
ED- This year you are producing ‘Signals 2’ as a sequel to the 2008 hit that is of great interest to our readers. Tell us more about the film.
CER- The filming of “Signals 2” has already begun, and continues to follow Nick Marconi. We have already filmed a great ‘bank heist’ scene in West Virginia, utilizing an actual SWAT team and vehicles, as well as EMT personnel and vehicles. The SWAT personnel were great technical advisors, and we actual gave them a few lines to say, which they did extremely well with by the way. We were able to secure an abandoned bank in WV also, which still had the teller windows, vaults, etc. We weren’t having much luck securing a working bank location—for some reason they weren’t crazy about filming a bank robbery at their establishments. Hm. J
CER- ‘Time Refugees’ (timerefugeesmovie.com) is set in the year 2110, where a small group of space travelers have left the nuclear war-ravaged Earth behind. After transporting themselves through space and time, they approach what they think is Earth….or is it? This story is also inspired by another government project started in the 1950’s, where a structure known simply as “The Bunker” was built because of the Cuban Missile Crisis but never used. This top secret fall-out shelter was for the entire US Congress, to be used in case of nuclear war. Every Congressman, Senator, along with their staffs (but not their families) would be moved there to “continue government.” It was stocked with enough food and supplies to last for months. Our story is based instead on the premise of having stocked space ships ready to launch into space in case of nuclear war. Only, instead of just the government having their own fleet, a secret civilian project was started that would save just some ‘regular people’ with practical smarts—no Congressman, no Senators.
ED- Tell us about the cast in this and the roles that they play.
CER- The civilian fleet is led by the character Ryker (played by myself), who saves a special fuel scientist named Axton (played by Kevin Troy), who ends up in the space ships with the rest of his team, Ryker’s wife and ship’s engineer Sheena (Sharon Carpenter-Rose), Ryker’s genetically engineered daughter Isis (Stephanie Rigizadeh), space fighter Maddox (Tracy Roman), and at least 15 other cast members who make up the inhabitants of the 5 civilian ships.
ED- What are some of the other projects that you have on the drawing boards for the near future?
CER- Besides producing our own movie projects, we are also currently producing a live webisode contest, “So You Think You Can Act…” (sytyca.com). While local actors from the northern Virginia/DC/MD area are competing for the top prize of $2500, we also have singers and dancers competing for other awards (this is for adults as well as kids). The register to vote or be an audience member, or to view clips of some of our contestants, go to sytyca.com
We also produce an entertainment news webisode, “WRPN News” (which translates to Washington Roman Pictures Network News): our byline is “A lot about us, a little about you.” We basically keep the local entertainment community updated on our many projects with the latest sneek-peek clips from our movies, but we also interview local talent, including filmmakers, actors, entertainment companies, entertainment lawyers, etc. We were even able to track down Brian Dragonuk, a wonderful local guy who spends his time and energy helping local actors find gigs. We have had exclusive webcast coverage of the Northern Virginia State of the Industry Expo in Arlington VA for the past 2 years, which is a top-notch annual event put on by the VA Production Alliance and the VA Film Office (filmva.com & film.virginia.org). Filmmakers who’d like to be considered for webcast interviews can reach us at email@example.com
Another very large project we have begun is the Depth Of Field Internationl Film Festival (dofiff.com). This is an international festival that will be held locally in the northern VA/DC area, and we will be working with Creative Hysteria (creativehysteria.com) for PR. We had been entertaining the idea of holding a film festival for 4 years now, but just didn’t know how to proceed, or what the point would even be if we didn’t have anything unique to offer. Early in 2008 we read an article that announced Amazon’s acquisition of a company called Withoutabox.com. It’s basically a “dating service” for filmmakers and film festivals, if you will. It makes it easy for them to find each other and discover the best matches for the film genres and the festival genres. So that gave us the answer of how to proceed and market such an event, but we still didn’t have anything unique to offer. Then in the summer of 2008 we took ‘Signals’ on the festival tour, eventually winning a “Best Action Feature” award at a New York film festival. While on the tour, we struck up a friendship with a representative from ITN Distribution of Las Vegas, NV (itndistribution.com). He offered a non-exclusive distribution deal to us for ‘Signals’ (eventually selling it to Russia through the Cannes market). We also suddenly had the inspiration for what we could offer to filmmakers at a film festival: THE CHANCE TO HAVE THEIR MOVIE TAKEN TO THE AFM (American Film Market) in Santa Monica!
It is SO difficult to have an independent film represented at the AFM and be seen by international distributors, and we thought if we could give some filmmakers the same opportunity we had, it would be a dream come true for them (Over 400 Exhibitors and 3,600 Buyers attended last year’s AFM). So we struck a contract with ITN, and thus the Depth of Field International Film Festival (DOFIFF.com) was born. We are proud to announce that Roman Pictures is expanding into its own branch of film distribution, which will double opportunities for filmmaker visibility through the DOFIFF. In addition, not only will the AFM be a guaranteed reality for some of the winners, but we are also striking a relationship with the Cannes Market to have that distribution market in place as well in time for the festival. Since we NEVER do anything unless it is done right, and with the best outcomes in place, we are willing to push the scheduling of the festival until the Cannes Market strategy is in place. This is a new development as of last week, and although we must wait to publish the page on Withoutabox, filmmakers can still submit their films to us as early as they wish at dofiff.com (will be same pricing as Withoutabox).
ED- Are there other genres in film that you exploring for future projects?
CER- Yes, we are also producing a war drama, ‘Pappy’s Raiders’ (pappysraiders.com). It is based on the novel written by Jimmy “Pappy” Brown, an all-American war hero. Jimmy Brown fought in the Vietnam War and was decorated many times, including receiving many Purple Heart awards for his sacrifices in the line of duty. Mr. Brown wrote a wonderful book describing his experiences, and contacted Roman Pictures last year to produce the movie based on his book. We are currently looking for investors to fund the filming, but we already have preliminary support from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, as well as many military personnel who are willing to help us make this project a reality. All of our movie projects can be found on IMDb with full cast listings, as well as on our company website, roman-pictures.com.
ED- Thank you Mr. Roman. It has been an honor and a pleasure to introduce you to our legion of fans. Please promise that you will stay in touch and keep us informed of all your latest ventures.
CER- The pleasure is mine, and I would like to invite interested readers to contact us and join our family of actors, MUA’s and crew. Just write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention The Eerie Digest.
(Special thanks to RP’s current production group roster members who haven’t been mentioned: Karen Sidbury, Pablo Rodriguez, Elizabetta Canova Duklis, Lenny Levy, Chon LaRocque, Henry Hickerson, Lew Fraga, Raja Deka, Brandon DeGroat, Greg Coale, Saul Cizek, Tracy Roman, Noah Bush, Kate Amerson)