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Arts and Entertainment

LAist Watches: fronterz

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On a recent Wednesday night, we sat with thirty or so people in a dark room on Wilshire and watched a film called "fronterz" Directed by Courtney Jones, starring Reno Wilson, Garth Belcon and Dennis Pressy and featuring Henry Winkler and Ted Danson. That we were watching a movie was not unusual. It happens often. The unusual part, the astounding and amazing part was that we were watching this particular movie at all.

Often in reviews of films or television shows we get caught up in the slick production value or the amazing special effects or just the cinematic experience of it all. Unfortunately, sometimes that's all you get. The "sizzle but no steak" problem. In the case of "fronterz", they didn't have anything in the way of special effects, slick production value, a big budget or on some days, enough money for lunch.

In fact, when they started shooting the film, after a brief two and a half weeks of pre-production, they only had ten thousand dollars to work with. Yes, you read that right. Ten thousand dollars. Now, we've been around a little and been on a few movie sets in our time and ten grand wouldn't cover the cost of bottled water on most "major" studio movies. The creators of "fronterz" didn't have money. What they did have, as Director Jones put it, was "love." And a good concept.

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The concept is simple: three classically trained actors decide to form a rap trio when they realize that rappers are getting all the acting jobs. Naturally, they become more successful as rappers than they ever were as actors and it all starts to go to their heads. For the filmmakers, it was about not talking about making a movie, as many people in this town do frequently. It was about actually making the movie. Now. Today. So, they got all their friends together, found an “angel” to spot them the ten grand and started shooting.

Is "fronterz" a great movie? No, but it does have many very funny moments. Will it win any Academy Awards? Probably not but it does feature great performances by Wilson, Belcon and Pressy as well as a hilarious Ted Danson as a record producer looking for the next big “urban thing” and Henry Winkler as the trio’s agent who has a little problem.

Is it an inspiring story of how people got off their butts and instead of talking about it, did something? Absolutely. Could we all use a little more of the can-do attitude and determination that these filmmakers demonstrated? As Ted Danson's character in “fronterz” puts it: "fo shizzle!"

"fronterz" is now playing on starz and is available on dvd soon.

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