By: L. Saber
November 19, 2020
If you can spare five minutes of your time, I’ll tell you my story of faith and how I made my first feature film, which led to a Hollywood career. I worked at a TV station in Chicago more than a couple of decades ago when the ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia consumed me. Influenced by the works of Christopher McQuarrie, Brian Singer, “Usual Suspects,” and” Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” I embarked on a writing venture of my own and “quarantined” myself for two weeks to write what would be later known as “Placebo Effect.” It was a story of less than epic proportions peppered with quirky, unusual characters gathered in an abandoned wood-mill, to carry out the assassination of a high profile politician. This plot was a ruse conceived by a former special operations soldier whose mission was to avenge his military unit’s extermination in Yugoslavia. For me, it was a big undertaking. The story had political implications, and the plot was not positioned for substantial commercial success, but it was a story I felt I needed to write.
I invested my life savings and hired a crew and cast. I bought the supper 16mm stock; yes, we shot Kodak and Fuji film stock back then. The stock of choice for me was Kodak, which offered warmer colors. I was just weeks away from shooting and ran out of money fast. I didn’t know much about filmmaking other than what I learned in film school and my experience producing news and talk shows at the Chicago TV station.
What kept me going was my belief that I would find a way to raise funds needed to produce and finish the film if it were God’s will.
With that in mind, I was on my knees every night saying the Lord’s prayer and declaring that if it were God’s will, there would be a way.
Night after night, week after week, I kept this ritual going, and in my heart and soul, I truly believed that it would happen.
It wasn’t long before, out of the blue, I received a call from the late Francesco Quinn, Anthony Quinn’s son, offering to play the lead role and bring the necessary funds to shoot and edit the film. How did Francesco find me? Through a work acquaintance at the TV station, who knew someone in Hollywood, that had a connection that knew Francesco Quinn. Through the many degrees of separation, my screenplay got to Francesco.
I initially resisted the offer. I didn’t think it was real, but when Francesco’s agent reached out with an agreement, I knew that God had worked a miracle in my life.
But that’s not where my story ends. I shot the film in the dead of winter in Chicago, edited the footage, sweetened the sound, and hired a film composer to write the score.
I submitted to the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival and won three awards to include Best Original Screenplay, Best Feature, and Best Cinematography. Those awards led to a Los Angeles theatrical distributor and a limited theatrical release of my first feature film.
I’m a modest person from a modest immigrant family, with minimal means and absolutely no Hollywood connections. How was this possible? I genuinely believe that my faith, my prayers, and God’s will is what made it all a reality.
Since then, I wrote, directed, and produced other feature films currently in domestic and international television distribution. I also landed a script deal and developed a TV series with Fox and Sony Television. I hosted and produced dozens of new media episodes, and I’m hosting a prominent entertainment industry podcast.
What challenges are you facing today? Are you trying to solve it all on your own? Can you use spiritual intervention? Work diligently, pray without ceasing, have faith, and most importantly, BELIEVE that all things are possible with God. What do you have to lose?