To continue our Emerging Filmmaker series, we are happy to introduce you to today’s Guest Blogger, writer/director/producer, Leone Marucci. As with most filmmakers, he identified his life’s passion at a very early age. He created his first movie at the age of twelve and has been entrenched in media creation and visual storytelling ever since. Today, Leone talks to us about his path to making his feature film, The Power of Few, available on VOD/Digital Download as of today and opening in new theaters this weekend.
Suppose Pulp Fiction was rewritten by a huge fan of 24, given a dose of Inglourious Basterds and sent to film school with The DaVinci Code. Set the whole thing in the city where they shot Interview With the Vampire, and behold The Power of Few. ~Yahoo Movies
Quentin Tarantino continues to have an enormous influence on rising filmmakers. The latest Pulp Fiction wannabe is a blood-soaked, time-twisting anthology. ~The Hollywood Reporter
While many artists are passionate about their ideas and believe they will translate those ideas to reality; the reality is – it’s incredibly difficult to do. Years of dedication and passion are poured into even just one project before that project will see the light of day. It’s a rare breed to meet that artist who follows through on all of those ideas and we are excited to introduce you Leone, a truly independent artist, and let him tell you the rest of his inspirational story.
For anyone who lays eyes on this piece of writing, allow me to attempt to define myself as a certain type of filmmaker… It’s key to know the roles I took on in making The Power of Few. It will have a relevance, I promise. I am the writer, director and producer of the film. After writing the script, I independently financed the project by raising the necessary funds through a combination of random equity investors, tax credit lenders and debt lenders, people whom I formed a direct personal relationship with in doing so.
Currently, I am self-releasing the film theatrically, serving as the theatre booker and distributor, forming personal relationships with the theatre chains as I go. Along the way, I’ve made it necessary to get to know and understand the financiers, the actors, the crew, the marketers, the exhibitors and the projectionists. While I have indeed carried much of the load, it should be noted that I couldn’t have done any of this without the help and assistance of some very necessary partners at each turn. I point all of this out to you, not to toot my own horn, but only to set up for what I have to say next….
With The Power of Few now in theatrical and digital release, I finally reached that place where I’m letting go of the film. It’s a script/concept/film that’s been with me for many years. Scary to say, but the first draft was completed in 1996. A move to Hollywood, navigating the industry, the ups and downs of financing, casting, technology and distribution are all little pieces of the puzzle that together represent the many years it’s taken to make this film a reality. I’m often asked why I stuck with it for so long. Lately I’ve had more time to think about that question. And one relevant answer is simple…. Miramax.
Before Miramax, pretty much every film that reached me in my mid-western upbringing was major studio product. But in the early to mid 90s, a wave of independent films started to creep in. Films by unknown filmmakers carrying a distinct vision and voice as an alternative to what cinema could and should be.
When I look through the Miramax library, I see reminders of inspiration in every image. In terms of writing and directing, Quentin T served as a unquestionable influence for me. With his deft dialogue, funkadelic style and unpredictable plots, he has made everyone in the world feel cool. But the key thing he did for me was to blast his light on the endless possibilities of non-linear storytelling. He and Roger Avary brought us the monumental Pulp Fiction while Miramax continued to champion this emerging narrative structure through films extremely important to me, like Run Lola Run and Sliding Doors. The clever design and craftwork in Amelie and Trainspotting along with the vibrant young acting talent found at the heart of all Miramax films broadened my world view of cinema.
There have been countless films and filmmakers that have served as inspiration to me, so many of whom were originally championed by Miramax. So when it comes to reflecting on my experience and specifically the decision to stay true to one project over the many years, I have to tip my hat to Harvey and Bob Weinstein for laying the groundwork to true and successful independence. When the studios didn’t embrace them, luckily for us, they went out and started their own. That spirit of independence is alive and well in everything I do.
Everything starts with story. And from storytelling to business, I love the puzzle. Nothing excites me more than it’s challenge. The Power of Few has represented the ultimate challenge. The film is a collection of five short stories occurring at the same moment in time, while revolving around a perplexing smuggling operation. It comes from a voyeur, conceptually exploring how a simple change in perspective can affect the outcome of a story. The film offers its audience endless amounts of overlapping and intertwining clues toward it’s mysterious ending. It’s filled with unique and unexpected performances from a widely diverse ensemble cast. I can (and at some point should) write a unique piece on my personal experiences with each of them. But for now, as a first time feature director, I simply must admit I was extremely fortunate to be able to shape my story with such talent.
In the spirit of The Power of Few’s multi perspective theme, the creation and completion of the film experimented with interactive components designed to push the limits of what was perceived as possible. We connected and found our audience early by inviting them to help shape the film. Online voting, auditions and editing contests found talent from around the world and brought them into this film unlike anything before it. [Check out their interactive website here].
We are in the midst of an incredible time of technological experimentation and discovery. The distribution landscape has shifted under our feet. Cinema is evolving faster than ever . And that shift has given filmmakers from around the world opportunities beyond anything our predecessors might have ever dreamt.
This is ‘show business’ and my experience has taught me how to respect, push and balance both words…. show and business. Be bold with your stories. Rejection from studios, financiers, producers, talent, agents, or managers should never be the reason a person gives up on their vision. I’ve been told that everything about this film is ambitious and probably not for a first timer. But thanks to the cinematic pioneers who paved a path of methodology that refuses to accept rejection, “The Power of Few” is now a reality.
Filmmakers are a special and resourceful breed of people. When you have a story to tell or a vision to realize, you do it. Like the Weinstein’s… like Miramax.
More on Leone Marucci
In 1996 Leone moved to Los Angeles, beginning his career in Hollywood assisting in special fx, costume and art departments on the films The Truman Show, Blade, and Anaconda respectively. Before founding his film and media company Steelyard Pictures, Leone worked at the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX Films). A stint Leone points to as a major eye- opener into fusing internet with entertainment. In 2002 Leone independently wrote, produced and directed Meddle and Steal, a stylized short film that received the unique honor of both Best Action Film and Best Screenplay by the NY International Independent Film & Video Festival. Subsequently, Leone faced many commercial opportunities and spent the next few years guiding Steelyard into successful relationships with Disney, MTV, NFL, Taco Bell, Guess, highlighted by completing a national spot for the renowned fashion company. Leone established Steelyard’s interactive arm in 2004 completing multiple projects including DeBartolo Sports University’s web platform.
Remaining true to his storytelling passion, Leone teamed up with Q’orianka Kilcher and iQ Films in 2006 to embark on his first feature The Power of Few, a sci-fi action drama. Following years of development The Power of Few attracted a renowned ensemble cast led by Christopher Walken, Christian Slater, Anthony Anderson, Moon Bloodgood, Jesse Bradford and Kilcher. Leone & Q’orianka designed and implemented a cutting edge interactive campaign inviting the global audience to help create the film. Online voters determined key costume, location and character decisions while Online Casting & Editing competitions discovered screen talent worldwide. The film was shot in New Orleans where an outreach strategy created opportunities for young locals to join the crew.
Leone is passionate about cinema and other forms of entertainment, citing Stanley Kubrick, Pink Floyd & Storm Thorgersen, Martin Scorsese, M.C. Escher, Terry Gilliam, Quentin Tarantino and Ed Sabol as key influences. Under his guidance Steelyard Pictures has been recognized by the global print and online press for its innovative and creative approach to filmmaking including features in Business Week, Variety, The Associated Press, Australia’s Film Ink, Getty, The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Leadership in Hollywood’ edition. Leone maintains a commitment to write, direct and produce feature films and media experiences designed to intrigue, captivate and entertain.