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Arts and Music

Local Filmmakers: Yes We Cannes

Dozens of moviegoers and indy film supporters gathered on Monday, Jan. 7 at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village to review several movies at the First Mondays Film Committee’s Film Festival.

Among them was the short film, Love and the Small Print, a project that earned two local filmmakers a premiere spot at Cannes Film Festival last spring. It was also featured in two local festivals, The Big Apple Film Festival and the African American Women in Cinema Film Festival.

Producer Ramfis Myrthil, and film director Adam Lawrence, of East Meadow, are founders of a production company, Beast of the East Productions (BOTEP), and have a couple of short film and music videos in their portfolios already.  Love and the Small Print was also recently picked up for distribution by Play Film Festival and is available on iTunes.

Love and the Small Print, a 20-minute film, features three couples from Long Island, Westchester, and New York City who are navigating their couples issues as well as their own private tribulations. The film addresses many relationship stressors including infidelity, abuse, insecurity, loneliness, finances, and career.

Anton Weekly recently spoke with the two filmmakers about their careers and the Cannes premiere.

AW: How did this passion for filmmaking evolve for you?  

RM: Adam and I met the summer of 2000. Since then, the rest is history.

Growing up I always loved film but I never considered it as business until the opportunity presented itself. Once I had a taste of the film industry I could not resist. Taking acting classes, going to workshops and seminars, as well as booking learning about the film industry.

After many auditions, networking events, and sleepless nights, in 2006 Adam and I considered the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck approach with Goodwill Hunting. We no longer wanted to go to cattle call auditions and try to hit the jackpot. We decided to invest our time to learn the entire process of filmmaking as producers. We took the bull by its horn and took control of our destiny. We came into the industry with no connections and have been relentless to get to a healthy place. We began our journey to leave people touched, moved, and inspired.

AL: In high school I knew that I wanted to do something different and that I wasn’t a 9-5 guy, and I always had a strong love for arts and the movies. Making movies has always drawn me in for as far back as I can remember.

I was in film at the time – I was acting – and I wanted to bring him [Myrthil] in. I always thought he had that perfect mack, a perfect personality for the business. So I brought him in as an actor and we wanted to do our own projects and over time we formed our own company.

AW: And the Cannes film festival earlier this year, what was that like?

RM: It was an unexplainable experience, meeting creatives [sic] from all walks of life whom embraced film. The energy was contagious and exhilarating. We met with many powerhouse producers, production companies, creatives, etc. while in Cannes. The wheeling and dealing was surreal.

AL: Incredible. It was like Disneyland for filmmakers. Being it is one of the most respectable film festivals in the world, and being with some of the greatest filmmakers in the world was an honor.

AW: Tell me more about your interpretation of your latest film, Love and the Small Print?

RM: Love is not so clear-cut; many people fail to read the small print that comes with it. Adam and I were involved in serious long-term relationships. We decided we would create a film to reflect what many people go through in a relationship or after a relationship, pain. Too many romance films are made with no realism, we steer away from the norm and touch upon the controversial material.

AL: My interpretation of it is focusing on the darker side of relationships. A lot of movies touch upon the glamour of a relationship, but I want to touch on what people truly go through. A lot of relationships these days are in turmoil, and I don’t want to necessarily shed light on that, but shed light on reality.

AW: What is the partnership like?

RM: Our partnership is a marriage; we speak to each other daily and are always in sync. Like many would say we are like yin and yang, we balance off one another very well. We both have our strengths and weakness, where one of us lacks the other prevails. All relationships require excellent communication. Without this there is high risk for failure. We are real New Yorkers at heart, tenacious bottom line in-your-face entrepreneurs who produce results. We love our partnership, as it is fierce.

AL: It’s a great working relationship that we have. We have a good understanding of one another; we’ve been working together for so long. Of course we have our ups and downs, but we see through it.

AW: Does any part of your work reflect being from Long Island?

RM: Our first short film, One Last Fix, was shot in East Meadow and a portion of Love and the Small Print was shot in Dix Hills. The only way to brand Long Island as filmmakers is to keep it within and work within our communities, which we always do. We will never sacrifice a project by hiring crews from only Long Island; however we have been fortunate to connect with quality filmmakers in Nassau and Suffolk. We extended our internship program to Adelphi, Molloy, Hofstra University, LIU, Stony Brook, etc. For Love and the Small Print we hired several department heads that attended Adelphi University. We plan to have most of our films shot in Long Island and New York.

AL: Yeah, I try to take what I see in daily life and in passing and try to include that in my work, because people can relate to real-life experiences. So yeah what I see in my daily life of living on Long Island is what I usually put in my work.

AW: Where are you at in your career?

RM: We are at a very exciting time in our careers, our film Love and the Small Print garnered so much buzz and credibility that it opened doors, which were not accessible before. We are at the tipping point in our careers where our feature films will begin launching off one by one. We are in talks with a well-established director to begin filming The Swingin’ Sounds of Jack Amsterdam, slated to shoot sometime next spring.

Myrthil is a producer, actor, writer and a founding partner of BOTEP. He is the producer of the new show What’s Cooking in Real Estate, which is currently being pitched to networks and garnering serious industry buzz. Myrthil graduated from Queens College in 2008 with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, Economics and Drama and trained at Jason Bennett’s Acting School.

Lawrence is an actor, writer and producer and co­-founder of BOTEP. Most recently, in front of the camera he acted in a commercial for Bryant & Stratton College, which is airing on television in upstate New York, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. He attended the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts’ program. He also studied with actor Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos fame.   

In addition to the recognition that Myrthil and Lawrence are gaining from Love and the Small Print, the pair’s short, Super Sunday, was the official selection at the 2010 Long Island International Film Expo; the short One Last Fix was the official selection for the Queens International Film Festival.