By ROBYN ZELICKSON
A movie filmed in Tucson has moved on to screenings in locations ranging from South Dakota to Sweden.
Los Angeles filmmaker Desmond Devenish spent three weeks shooting his crime thriller “Misfortune” in Tucson. He premiered the movie at Tucson’s Arizona International Film Festival last May.
While in Tucson, Devenish began a “grassroots campaign” for a theatrical release of the film.
Discussions with Harkins Theaters proved fruitful and Tucson theater-goers were introduced to “Misfortune” from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1.
Devenish returned for the opening and was very pleased with the response from Tucsonans.
In other showings, “Misfortune” won Best Feature Film 2016 at the Black Hills Film Festival in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Coincidently, Rapid City is the former home of “Misfortune” producer Roger Steilen. Devenish called Steilen an instrumental part of the production, someone he could depend on for everything from locations to catering to crew.
Steilen’s confidence and calm presence provided a steadying influence when troubleshooting and problem-solving were needed, Devenish said.
“Misfortune” also screened at the Dances with Films Festival at the famous Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, and was scheduled to show at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 8-18.
A European screening took place on Sept. 3 in Örebro, Sweden.
Devenish has reached an independent film distribution contract with ITN Distribution Inc., which acquires and distributes films worldwide for TV, VOD, DVD and theatrical markets.
Digital distribution will enable Devenish to step back from distribution and marketing and concentrate on his next project.
That film will be based on a book by Stacey Cochran called “Eddie and Sunny.” It’s the story of two characters living in their car with their young son in rural North Carolina.
When crime strikes, they go on the run. The two become separated and have to find each other again.
“Eddie and Sunny is the story of a family finding its soul, but to do so they have to lose one another first,” according to amazon.com. “It is a story of hope, love and the American Dream.”
Devenish also feels he has more work yet to do in Tucson. He received strong support from Independent Film Arizona, which he says is a “strong-knit community creating more work, camaraderie and a referral system for filmmakers.”
It’s a collaboration that strongly appeals to Devenish and his belief in the importance of working together to create a more positive experience in the world of film and in the world at large.
Actor-director creates vision for collaboration
By ROBYN ZELICKSON
Desmond Devenish can clearly see the bigger picture. He calls it Gunnison Galaxy.
Devenish is building a starting point for up-and-coming filmmakers so they can take advantage of a broad base of established contacts in the film industry. He knows the struggle of trying to break in and wants to help new artists side-step that struggle.
In terms of his own filmmaking experience, his first effort was a disappointment. He lost his investment of time, money and effort due to the betrayal of a partner. Financial and emotional recovery was not easy.
Finally, he was able to move forward with his film “Misfortune,” whose themes of betrayal, loss and greed proved to be cathartic.
“Sometimes you find yourself in a situation which has gotten the better of you,” he said. “You look for answers and logic and perhaps the situation is the answer. If you can come out of it learning from it and strengthening your intuition and learning to trust that, it will save you the pain.”
Devenish had struggles with “Misfortune” too. However, after all the effort of the past, he wanted to finish the project in a strong fashion. Reaching out to sound engineer Tony Lamberti, he was able to create the powerful effect needed to allow the film to tell its story.
Ultimately, Devenish wanted the audience to feel that no matter how far down someone has been pushed, no matter how much they have lost, they have to keep moving forward. As long as they have a feeling of self-possession, completion, sense of self or love, moving forward is possible.
“That is the story in all of us. That is where all the growth is,” Devenish said.
Many films have inspired Devenish’s creativity, but one in particular stands out – “Platoon” by Oliver Stone because of the myriad of angles of the storytelling.
Not all wars are the same but there is always conflict. The beauty is in showing the situation with unbiased perspective from many points of view, Devenish believes.
“As a filmmaker, you don’t have to say just one thing,” he said. “You can let the audience decide, without being ambiguous. Let them take away what they want.”
What he wants to accomplish is honesty and truth, presenting the most crystalline point of view without manipulating the audience. The most important thing, he believes, is to be true to yourself, honest with yourself and to take your responsibility as a storyteller seriously.
Devenish encourages aspiring film-makers to get the most affordable camera they can, find something to record sound and get two or three friends who will work free or cheap and just start filming. Put in the time. Learn by trial and error. Use the internet, YouTube, Vimeo.
“If you have an idea, you can shoot anything,” he said.
It’s an amazing time to see the potential in all of us, Devenish believes. We need to create alliances between artists of all sorts to effectively give people what they need.
“Gunnison Galaxy is fostering the right idealogy,” he said. “It’s supportive and positive, so that we can work to get the best out of each other. We can be more cohesive and that positive energy will make the world better.”
For more information on Gunnison Galaxy, visit gunnisongalaxy.com.