After 15 years, two divorces, bankruptcy, and working two waiter jobs, Marcelo Grion’s debut film, “The Prototype,” is about to finally see the light of day. And while the filming has been done for years, Grion has had some trouble getting the final touches put on the film.
“The movie’s been fully edited and fully assembled and ready to go since September of 2010. But I had a lot of trouble with visual effects because of the quality,” Grion said in an over-the-phone interview with usedview.com. “It’s a small film; keep in mind that it is my first feature film. It’s a movie I’ve been doing over the years because of the money. I started shooting in film, and that’s expensive. But I’ve always wanted to shoot in film. And then, the visual effects, the quality – it’s a teamwork effort. You have to find people who will stick with it – people who like the movie, basically.”
“The Prototype” is a low-budget, science fiction film about a newly created intelligence agency being assigned a special case from the United States government. Lead Agent Garrett Brown discovers a plot in which aliens, led by Reverend Jeremiah C. Hope, plan to take over the planet. As Garrett continues the investigation, he is forced to drink a blue liquid that kills him, but then brings him back to life 300 years later, after Earth has already been taken over by an alien warrior named Piak. In this new world, Garrett discovers that he is the only living human being left, as everyone else is a clone. He and the clones who saved him must now come together to overthrow Piak and take back Earth.
Grion cast a lot of actors for his first film. And while the budget is less than $1 million, he said some of the actors were OK with volunteering their time for the movie. He did pay the people in minor roles or “negotiated a copy credit” and offered meals for the extras. Grion also came up with a plan for the lead actors.
“The main characters, I signed a deal with them that deferred payment,” he said. “I came up with the idea that I sell the movie and if I break even, I can pay the actors back their salary.”
The leads will also receive a small percentage of the producer net profits, Grion said.
Grion is still putting the finishing touches on the film, but he is also working hard to find a distributor, he said. It’s been a bit of a bumpy road for him so far.
“I’ve been approached from many distribution companies, but I’m trying to sell the film until I’ve exhausted all the venues,” he said. “The thing about distribution is, there are a lot of sharks. I’ve talked to some people and they say, ‘Just be careful, because you’re new to this. You’ll get the movie done, and that’s just the beginning. Then you have to find some serious people who are going to take the movie and promote it.’”
Even though the film has taken 15 years to complete, and Grion has had some troubles along the way, he always had the motivation to complete his film.
“I never really doubted myself as a filmmaker,” he said. “I know I will continue until the job is finished. I think the main obstacle I had is when you’re low on budget, you can’t hire all the people you want, and you basically have to look around and see and also trust people. Sometimes, they’re not involved in the film or as professional as they intend to be.”
As a kid, Grion invited several of his friends over to discuss his idea of making a movie. 17 kids with their “toys and everything” were there to hear his plans, and they all thought he was “crazy,” so he put the idea aside, he said. It wasn’t until after high school that Grion decided that he wanted to be a filmmaker.
“After high school, I thought about what I wanted to do, and I always wanted to film. I really got into a lot of the action and science fiction films – a lot of Spielberg films,” he said.
Grion would soon make his first short film, and he didn’t have any filmmaking experience before this, he said. His first attempt at making a movie wasn’t as good as he had hoped.
“The first time I shot my first short film, I hadn’t directed anything,” Grion said. “I came up with this idea, filmed and edited it, and then watched it. The first time I watched it, I was shocked. I put it away. I didn’t look at it for eight or nine months.”
But the second time he viewed his own film had a different result, he said.
“Then I finally got it out, watched it alone, and I really liked it,” Grion said. “Then, I felt like, ‘Oh, my god. I liked it; I really liked it. I can direct a movie; this is great.’”
Grion made more short films and then started working in production studios under different titles. Then he started working on “The Prototype,” which was supposed to be another short film. Then someone told him that he should turn it into a feature film.
“Someone said, ‘You know, if you really want to make it, I think we should continue and make it into a feature film,” Grion said. “I said, ‘I don’t have the money; I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but if you’re willing to stick with it, I cannot shoot the movie without you. I already shot the short film with you, and if I’m going to expand it, I need you.’ And then, everyone was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”
Grion recently promoted “The Prototype” at Phoenix Comiccon in Phoenix, Ariz. The film is still a work in progress, but, shortly after this interview, Grion e-mailed the Chico Movie Examiner on June 9, saying that a distribution deal has possibly been reached.
“It looks like it will happen,” he said.
Be sure to follow “The Prototype” on Facebook for more updates, as they become available, and be sure to also check out its official website for more details.
*EDIT* (June 10, 2013)
Grion has signed a deal with Fantastic Films International, according to an e-mail received by the Chico Movie Examiner.