Derby City film Festival

Louisville native finds success
in world of Hollywood film

He debuts his first production
this month in hometown

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 2009) – It’s been eight years since John Paul Rice drove alone across the country to Los Angeles, arriving at a friend’s sisters’ apartment to live in a room with no bed, only a floor on which to sleep. The ride was well worth it for Rice, now a film producer and owner of his own production company, No Restrictions Entertain-ment LLC.

John Paul Rice

Photo provided

Louisviille’s John Paul Rice learned
filmmaking while living in Los Angeles.

This Louisville native began acting at age 6 in school plays and later acted in dramas at Trinity High School. His first film role was in “Remember The Titans,” where he was cast as one of the core members of the Titan football team.
“Getting up at 5 a.m. each day for two months was one of the best experiences that taught me I wanted to do something in the field of film,” said Rice.
Such experiences led him a year and a half later to an entry level job at a start-up film company in Los Angeles, Senator International Inc. Rice’s job was to read scripts and pitch them during creative meetings. During this time he “started to formulate a plan to produce movies.”
Rice credits meeting Latino filmmaker Edgar Michael Bravo and reading his scripts along with a mentorship by Senator International Inc.’s president, Joe Drake, to his determination to produce films.
“Joe’s mentoring combined with the reaction from industry professionals to Edgar’s scripts confirmed what I gutturally felt in my reactions to stories and films that inspired me, that made a connection to how I felt,” Rice said.
In 2008 Rice produced his first indie feature film, “One Hour Fantasy Girl.” The film was written and directed by Bravo.
“One Hour Fantasy Girl” is based on a true story in which the main character, Becky Lewis, escapes an abusive alcoholic mother at age 15 and has survived on her own in Los Angeles ever since. It’s the poignant story of a troubled young woman trying to make a better life for herself. The film is expected to gain a rating of PG-13 for some violence and adult language.
A screening for “One Hour Fantasy Girl” will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, July 31, at The Vernon Club, hosted by the Derby City Film Festival. A second screening will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Comedy Caravan, hosted by the Louisville Creative Center. A Screenwriting Workshop will precede the latter screening from noon to 2 p.m. A question-and-answer session with Rice and Bravo will follow each screening.
Kris Rommel, organizer of the Derby City Film Festival, said the screening at The Vernon Club is part of a series known as Derby City Independent Film Series, held once a month. Beginning in August, the series will be held every last Tuesday of the month at the Comedy Caravan. The series is free and popcorn will also be served free of charge during the screenings.
The series was created to promote awareness of the Derby City Film Festival, to be held on Feb. 18-21, 2010, in Louisville. “We’re trying to foster a community of independent films in Louisville,” said Rommel.
“I can’t believe how well done it is,” said Rommel of “One Hour Fantasy Girl.” He cautions, “Louisville filmmakers should pay attention to it. It’s an excellent example of what somebody from Louisville set out to do.”
He cites the high quality of technical work as outstanding for an independent film.
Such films usually do not feature big name actors like Brad Pitt or George Clooney but rather talented Broadway actors, said Rommel. This makes qualities such as lighting and sound more important, especially when these films are generally shot on a lower budget.
Rice said he had heard about the tough life runaways have when they came to Los Angeles and he wanted to make a movie based on a true story that might help people in similar tough situations. “The director and I interviewed all sorts of runaways who told us their stories.”
Rice was particularly “interested in those runaways who had found a way to survive. Many of them had a plan, dreams of becoming something more than just a ‘fantasy girl.’ It was the complexity of their lives that ultimately led to the interest of doing the story. Telling a story about a person who endures pain to find empowerment was interesting to me.”
Rice’s next project is a film titled, “The Magic Stone.” It is about the choices made when becoming an adult.
He plans to stay in Los Angeles for the next five years but would consider moving back to Kentucky if film tax incentives for Kentucky filmmakers were passed, he said. “Beyond just the ability of making it more affordable to make a film and providing local residents work, a tax incentive brings immediate revenue to local businesses and services,” making tax incentives of greater long-term benefit to the state, said Rice.
“Beyond the affordability and quality of films, it is the financial successes and long-term benefit to commerce that will sustain the incentives.”

• There is a $20 fee for the Screenwriting Workshop and a $5 admission fee for each screening. To learn more about John Paul Rice or “One Hour Fantasy Girl,” visit: www.onehourfantasygirlmovie.com or www.derbycityfilmfest.com.

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