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Movie will have its first local viewing

The independent film tells the story of three teens living during a tumultuous time in the city's history.

Published October 11, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Ten years ago this month, street violence broke out after TyRon Lewis, a black man, was shot by police after Lewis tried to run over an officer during a traffic stop.

Chris Fuller was 15 years old. Tension in school and on the streets enveloped him. The turmoil haunted him. He began to write about it.

Three years later, he had a movie script. Eventually, he hooked up with Frank Craft and the two became a combination pursuing a cinematic dream.

The result is an 83-minute movie, Loren Cass, shot in St. Petersburg, and produced for less than $1-million, Craft said.

For the two St. Petersburg men, it has meant eight years of labor, often 24/7, to write and produce a movie about a defining era in the city's history.

"It's tough," said Fuller, 24. "We realized a long time ago there's no turning back and you've got to push on through, no matter what they throw at us."

The film's first local screening is Saturday at The Studio@620 620 First Ave. S.

Fuller's written description says his work is "an effort to tell a coming-of-age story in a way that I didn't think had been done before, with an experiential, dreamlike look into the mind and soul of an adolescent during a time of toil and tension."

Loren Cass tells the story of three teenagers coping in a "dirty, dirty town by a dirty, dirty sea." The film is shot in St. Petersburg. A segment was produced at the house where beat writer Jack Kerouac lived. Familiar landmarks such as the Sunshine Skyway show up.

And so do the streets.

A moody portrait of St. Petersburg emerges. Call it "sunshine noir," perhaps a new genre. Violence, alcoholism, suicide and lost innocence are among the elements.

"A mature film, very interesting," said Bob Devin Jones, Studio@620 artistic director.

It is the debut work for Fuller, the writer/director, and Craft, 23, the producer. Fuller was born and reared here; Craft was born in Memphis, moving here in the mid 1990s.

Cast members include Kayla Tabish, who appeared in The Girl Next Door, a 2004 Twentieth Century Fox romantic comedy; Jacob Reynolds, a St. Petersburg native whose film credits include Life with Mikey and The Road to Wellville; and Travis Maynard, who is making his acting debut.

The cast also includes martial arts experts and some St. Petersburg residents whom viewers are likely to recognize, boxing champion Winky Wright among them.

St. Petersburg musician Jimmy Morey created the film's original music recordings.

Fuller said he and Craft hope to see the movie released in theaters.

"Whether wide or limited," Fuller said. "We just want to find a good home for it."

[Last modified October 10, 2006, 19:53:58]

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