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'Return of Fire' Burns Through Genre Barriers

13 Dec, 2003 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Jan. 27, 2004 Return of Fire DVD release ($19.95) showcases a multicultural cast in a gritty urban action tale designed to appeal to a wide audience, according to New York-based D&C Films.

Whether a film about double-dealing, revenge, redemption, guns and general mayhem is appropriate for everyone may be in question. What is not suspect, however, is the distribution opportunities DVD is affording niche genres.

Created by Jamaican filmmakers Donny McTaggart and Orville Bennett, D&C Films in 1995 won the Spirit of Independents Award at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival for its inaugural urban release Roughneck, released Dec. 2 on video.

Three films later, Fire represents D&C's first attempt at self-distribution of its product (with Pro-Active Entertainment Group) after previous vendor agreements with Maverick Entertainment and DEJ.

The film, which stars Jamaican actors Paul Campbell (Third World Cop, Dance Hall Queen) and Karen Williams (“Law and Order”), singer Nick Ashford and Italian-American Federico Castelluccio (“The Sopranos”), among others, reunites D&C with sophomore director, screenwriter, and casting director Aleta Helena Chappelle, whose previous theatrical effort Goosed starred Jennifer Tilly, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein and Damon Wayans.

“We put more [marketing] emphasis on this film because of the budget [about $300,000] and bigger stars,” said D&C spokesperson Courtney Boyd.

The film, which incorporated locations in Mount Vernon, N.J., and White Plains, N.Y., was shot on 35mm scope film, while previous efforts relied on digital video cameras and had budgets of less than $200,000.

DVD has given companies such as D&C a means to distribute material otherwise curtailed by production costs to limited theatrical release. The result is a proliferation of sellthrough urban content in stores and no shortage of production companies churning out ubiquitous material.

“Until we have made a name for [ourselves with] larger distributors and theater owners, the best avenue is to distribute our own movies,” Boyd said.

“It's faster, somewhat cheaper and more controllable. We know the specific markets that we want to sell in and how we're going to go about reaching that market. If we were dealing with theaters, our movie would be distributed through one giant distributor, and we wouldn't have any say in the matter,” he added.

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