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Fall River is Host to World Premiere
of Filmmakers Latest Work

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Editor Fall River Spirit

At 32 independent filmmaker Robert Manuels has already enjoyed a taste of the fruits of success for his hard work; this time, he's hungry to have a seat at the table to savor the entire meal. Manuels, who grew up in the South End, once drove across country to Hollywood and even recently rubbed elbows with Sylvester Stallone in pursuit of a career making films. This weekend, at the New Harbour Mall Cinemas, he will be releasing what he feels is his finest work yet: "Broken Love."

And in a gesture to show how much he appreciates his Fall River roots, Manuels will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from each $5 ticket sold to the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 9 William S. Greene. Galaxy Cinemas at the Harbor Mall is donating the use of a screen for each of the 10 showings of "Broken Love" this weekend, beginning with the world premiere of the film on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and running through Sunday.

"If I lived in another country, I might not get the chance to make movies," Manuels says of his desire to applaud the sacrifices veterans have made for our country. "Hopefully, a lot of people will come," he adds. "I just want to be able to give them a big check." Jamie Manuels, Robert's brother, worked as assistant director on the film. "It's our favorite charity," Jamie says of helping the DAV "Our dad [Richard Manuels] was a veteran and he's in the movie."

"Broken Love" was shot entirely at locations in Fall River and Berkley, although it is set in the fictional town of Newtonville, Mass. While there is no profanity or nudity in the film, "Broken Love" is geared for an adult audience, and features all local talent, including actress Shandy Monte, a veteran of Little Theatre, UMass Dartmouth and other area productions. "I saw an open call and I got the role on the spot," says Monte, who portrays Renee, a young, naive girl who is placed in a difficult situation. "She has to be a really strong figure."

Manuels does not wish to give away too much of the plot in advance of the premiere of the 60-minute film, which will be followed by a 40-minute behind-the-scenes look at how it was made. But he does offer some insight into the dealings of the four primary cast members. "It's a story of a happy couple that goes on a camping trip. Something horrible happens and forces them to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives."

"I thought it was an excellent experience," Monte says of her work on the production, which had a cast and crew of about 50 people who worked mostly on weekends. "We were in the woods from 7 in the morning until 5 o'clock." "Rob is really dedicated and he makes you feel comfortable."

For Manuels, the first taste of success came with the release of the feature "Two Good Guys" in 2001, which drew more than 900 people to the New Harbour Mall Cinemas for its debut. The film went on to win the Best Dramatic Feature Film award at the New Bedford Film Festival. "It's my only film award so far and I'm very proud of it."

"I'm passionate about making movies," he adds, giving credit to Michael Lepage, a former English teacher of his at the Henry Lord Middle School, for inspiring the logo of his production company, Rmanfilms. In class one day, Lepage, whom Manuels remembers as being well-versed in a number of subjects, spoke about bees. A bee appears in the logo, and Manuels says he never forgot a lesson learned in class about the less-than-aerodynamic physical structure of the insect. "Scientists say bees should not be able to fly, but they do it anyway," Manuels says, noting that as a filmmaker, he can equate himself with overcoming obstacles so he too can soar.

In his day job, Manuels works for National Grid in Brockton. But at night and on weekends, he is constantly at work plying the editing skills he learned at a Boston film school on the many short and feature length films and videos he creates.

"Broken Love" is shot on 16mm film, which is much less expensive than using 35mm film, like they do in Hollywood, while still retaining a professional presentation. The film requires the use of a special projector, which Manuels rents, in the theater. He says the 40-minute behind-the-scenes look offers viewers a unique perspective to see how such films are made. "We're really no different from Hollywood in the way we make the movies, except we're not getting paid," he says.

"It's a big set-up process," says Jamie, who graduated last weekend from Bristol Community College as one of six students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. "You've got to set up the camera and the lighting, and set the sound."

The sound, for instance has to be put onto an optical track on the film itself, a process that is done at a studio in New York City at a cost of $3,000. The soundtrack is run by a light that runs through the film in the projector. Manuels now drives the soundtrack and film personally to New York, after suffering a serious setback in making of "Two Good Guys" in which the shipper sent his package someplace else, where it sat in a basement for several months.

"I think this movie has a really good shot at getting into the big festivals," Manuels says. Getting into the festivals gives films the opportunity to be seen by those who are influential in the movie industry, and could lead to a contract. "Broken Love" deals with very serious subject matter, which offers an alternative to the often light fare shown at festivals. "In the future, we'll do a good comedy," he chuckles.

For Manuels, he was bitten by the movie bug while a teenager, watching Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky films. "I wanted to be part of movies in the worst way," he says. In his 20s, he began to learn the craft and has steadily become more serious and deliberate in crafting films. He once drove across country in his jeep and lived right in the middle of Hollywood for a while, but decided to come back home after learning all he could out there and trying to break into films. "Once I came back I realized that it's here that I'm going to make things happen," he says.

"Broken Love" cast member Ernie Resendes is also one of Manuels's closest friends. He recently helped make one of his friend's dreams come true. When he found out there was an open call for extras to appear in "Rocky Balboa," part six of the boxing franchise, he signed the two up. They're hoping their work at least will not be left on the cutting room floor.

"It was like a dream come true, and it really was," says Resendes, who is a Fall River artist known as Jazzman. In "Broken Love" Resendes plays a villain. "The bad guy roll is the most fun because you can let loose, be eccentric and try new things," he says. "I hope a lot of people come to see the movie cause Rob really worked hard on it."

"Broken Love" will be making its world premiere this weekend at the Galaxy Cinemas at the New Harbour Mall. The film will premiere on Friday night, June 9, with shows at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. On Saturday, June 10, show times will be: 3 p.m.; 5 p.m.; 7:30 and 9 p.m. On Sunday, June 11, the film will be shown at: 1 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 9 William S. Greene. For more information on the film work of Robert Manuels log on to: rmanfilms.com or robertmanuels.com.


To comment on this Fall River Spirit article email us at feedback@rmanfilms.com


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