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City man makes the big screen
MICHAEL W. FREEMAN, Herald News Staff Reporter    April 30, 2001

FALL RIVER -- This has been an extremely busy time for Bob Manuels, and he admits that he's not getting a lot of sleep these days.

But even when he looks ready to collapse, he can't hide the excitement and thrill so evident in his face. After all, it's not every day that someone makes a movie, then gets it booked in a local theater.

"I'm really proud of this movie," said Manuels, 26, the producer, writer, director and star of "Two Good Guys," shot on the streets of Fall River. "I think it came out really well for a first feature. I hope people like it."

Area residents will have an opportunity to view the film soon. The 100-minute-long "Two Good Guys" debuts at the Loews Cineplex at New Harbour Mall Cinema 8 on May 18 at 9 p.m., and will run on May 19 at 1 p.m. and May 20 at 4 p.m.

Because Manuels is renting the theater that weekend, he can't sell tickets at the door. Manuels is asking people interested in seeing the film to make a $7 donation to help cover the cost of the movie, which he financed himself. Tickets are available at several locations around the city, including My Daily Grind at the Harbour Mall, GV Minimart, Ray's Package Store and Rodrigues Insurance.

After the weekend debut, Manuels is moving north. He's booked a showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.

A Fall River resident, Manuels has always been a big movie fan. He recalls with great affection the 1976 film "Rocky," a low-budget independent written by and starring an unknown actor named Sylvester Stallone. The movie went on to win the Academy Award for best picture, and made a star of Stallone.

Recognizing there were no outlets for filmmaking in this city, Manuels moved to Hollywood, Calif., at the age of 21, but had no luck breaking into the industry. Then he moved back to Fall River, and came up with a better idea.

He enrolled in the Boston Film and Video Foundation, a nonprofit school that teaches the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. After completing his course work, he bought equipment: an "E-Clear" 16mm motion film camera, a computerized editing system, a digital audio tape recorder and a light meter.

Then he wrote a script about two best friends, Darryl and Jay, who have dead-end jobs and barely make enough money to survive. They get lured into drug trafficking, until Darryl quits in disgust when he realizes that most of the drugs they're bringing into the city are turning up in local schools. But Jay doesn't want to quit the lucrative trade, and their situation gets increasingly dangerous.

Manuels shot the film with the help of his brother, Jamie, who served as cinematographer, and brought in a cast of locals, including Lina Farias, Mario Durand and Elissa Jordan. Friends lined up to fill bit parts. Excluding the time it took to write the script, Bob and Jamie spent two years completing the project.

It took them months to edit all the footage into a feature-length film. "A film is nothing until you do the editing," he said.

He was thrilled when Loews Cineplex Entertainment agreed to show the film, with the strong support of the theater's manager, Verna Castro.

"She was so enthusiastic about making it happen," Manuels said.

The screening will give area residents a rare opportunity to see Fall River on the big screen.

"You'll see Battleship Cove," Manuels said. "We did a lot in Maplewood Park. You'll see a couple of shots on South Main Street. We shot some scenes at The Cafe Colosseum."

Manuels now has his own production company, Rmanfilms, and a Web site going online in the next few weeks, www.rmanfilms.com.

He also plans to submit the film to various regional film festivals.

"Once it plays here, it plays in Boston, and then we'll enter it in a bunch of film festivals and see what happens," he said, noting that "The Blair Witch Project" was financed by two filmmakers for $30,000. It played at the Sundance Film Festival, was picked up by a major studio, and went on to earn a whopping $140 million in profits in 1999.

Manuels owes a lot of credit to his family, saying they've been his strength and inspiration throughout this long process.

He thanked his parents, Richard and Elaine, "for being so supportive, and for giving me the ingredients inside to do something extraordinary. I'm not from a rich family, but I'm very fortunate to come from a great family."

�The Herald News 2001

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