From Concept to Theaters: How Joey Abi-Loutfi Got His Script Made

imageEarlier this year, we colored the comedy feature “Eternity” and loved the film.  Chronicling two 80’s R&B singers who fall in and out of love, the film plays over a gorgeous backdrop of neon.  See a preview at http://youtu.be/PRmKI4ccWao and check out the film’s website: www.theeternitymovie.com.
 
The film is about to have its LA Premiere at OutFest and will be distributed domestically by Vagrant Releasing in the fall.  
 
We wondered about the story behind the film, and reached out to Writer / Producer Joey Abi-Loutfi to find out how the film was created.

FF: When you were writing “Eternity: The Movie”, were you budget conscious?

JA: Yeah. I was approached in 2006 by our producer, Eric Staley, and our director, Ian Thorpe, to write a low budget film for their company, Sidecar Productions, mainly because they were familiar with some of my previous work, which they had enjoyed reading. I gave them five different treatment ideas, and this fun-loving 80’s comedy stood out to them. I began writing what was then called “Todd Lucas: Singer/Songwriter”, and finished it around 2008.

 
FF: The film took a few years to make after you wrote it.  How do you feel, watching it now after so many years?  Does it still make you laugh?
 
JA: I love it! Even though the screenplays I have written since then are a bit more mature, I have always been in love with this story. Some of the scenarios these characters go through within the film were based on personal experiences I had, so watching it now is very nostalgic for me. And, yeah, I still laugh at the jokes! Our cast brought so much life to these characters, and because of them, it turned out better than I could have ever imagined. I feel truly blessed.
 
FF: Were you involved in the production?
 
JA: Yes, Sidecar Productions brought me back on the project in 2012 as a producer, so I helped hire the crew, organize the music, and even helped with the casting process. I was also the script supervisor on set because, well, I knew the material.
 
FF: I heard the production took place in an empty mansion.  What was the situation?
 
JA: Our director, Ian Thorpe, has an uncle who bought this beautiful house, but couldn’t move into it for a few months, so he offered it to us to stay in! Since we shot the film in San Diego, it saved us a lot of money on housing our LA cast and crew. There was a trampoline, a pool, a water slide, multiple garages that our art department and wardrobe worked out of… it was like a lavish summer camp, except we got to make a movie! We shot the band’s “successful” scenes there. 
 
FF: How long did it take you to edit the film?
 
JA: It took about a year and a half to edit the film. It was done in-house at Sidecar Productions, which already had a regular business to run, along with editing a feature film. Even though it took some time, it saved us a lot of money, and it gave us the final say on everything in the edit.
 
FF: I know you edited in Premiere.  Would you recommend that to other filmmakers?
 
JA: Most definitely. I mostly watched our editors push the buttons, but it is efficient and extremely versatile. We could do all sorts of cheesy 80’s effects, and at the same time keep it clean and professional.
 
FF: The score was critical to the film.  How did it come together?
 
JA: Before we started filming, we had six amazing original songs for our fictitious band written by the very talented Nick Faiella. I have known our composer, Kevin Brough, since we were kids and always thought we would work together on a film. He did a great job incorporating Nick’s songs into the score, and gave us wall to wall music that really gives the film an 80’s vibe. Very emotional stuff… Overly emotional, which was our goal for the entire project.
 
FF: We loved coloring the film — it’s got a great 80’s palate.  Did you know that the color was going to be a priority?
 
JA: Most definitely. Between the wardrobe and the set design, we knew the color was going to be something that defined the film. I mean, color defined the 1980’s, so we knew it was important both stylistically and thematically. Fancy Film did a fantastic job accentuating the colors throughout the film. It was a great experience working with Paul [Byrne] and the Fancy team. 
 
FF: Thanks and right back at ya!  Now, you didn’t know what the future of the film would be.  When did it become clear that you would get a domestic theatrical run?  
 
JA: Not until we had our world premiere at the 2014 Cinequest Film Festival. We sold out three shows and received an encore performance. That is where we were approached by Ryan Levey of Vagrant Films Releasing and Publicity, who will handle our North American distribution this Fall. We are very excited to take this film on tour!
 
FF: What’s in the future for the film?
 
JA: We have our Los Angeles premiere this Friday, July 11th, at the Outfest Film Festival [LINK]. We just released the first music video from our soundtrack, which can be seen on our website. Our soundtrack is now available on iTunes, and our theatrical release is this Fall! Look for us in New York, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, and hopefully at a theater near you! We are also planning on producing “Eternity: The Musical”, “Eternity: The TV Show”, and “Eternity: The Ice-Capade”.
 
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Joey at the premiere with stars Barrett Crake and Myko Olivier

FF: What’s next for you?
 
JA: I am currently writing an 80’s action film, which is more comedic than dramatic… I’m kind of stuck in the 80’s, I guess. I’ve also finished a bio-pic on the late, great boxer, Kenny Norton, the Heavyweight Champion of 1978. A great man with a great story. It’s much more serious material than “Eternity”, but something I am very proud of. Obviously, it is also a period piece. I’m kind of big on nostalgia.
 
 
FF: Thanks so much for telling us the story of Eternity, Joey.  Good luck with all the exciting things that lay ahead!
 
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