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James Quattrochi and Rodrigo Botero tried for eight months to get their first film into Los Angeles. Though the pair was unsuccessful at convincing a distributor to take it on, their movie made it to the theaters anyway. Quattrochi, who starred in and directed “True Friends” and also co-wrote it with Botero, used a method called four-walling to get the film into United Artists Warner Center 6 in Woodland Hills and AMC’s Burbank 8, along with three other local theaters. Four-walling means renting out a theater for anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 in order to generate a buzz among filmgoers and ultimately get the attention of a major film distributor. In the case of Quattrochi and Botero, the theaters not only agreed to play the films, they also waived their standard rental fee and instead split the profits 50-50. “It’s very difficult for an independent film producer to get a film in here,” said United Artists film buyer Mike Kelly, who put the film in United Artists’ Woodland Hills theater. “We normally are not in the business of doing this type of thing, but it is a good film.” Theater chains often get about a dozen requests a week from independent filmmakers who are vying for a chance to get on the big screen. After nearly eight months of shopping the film around Hollywood and numerous film festivals, Quattrochi, and Botero approached film buyers at the United Artists, Laemmle and AMC theatre chains and handed them videocassettes of the film. “We also discussed advertisements with the bookers and how we were planning to promote the film, explained Quattrochi. “They screened it and thought it played good.” “True Friends,” is a coming of age story of three friends, Quattrochi, Botero and Edward Duffy. It was Duffy’s death from a brain tumor that propelled the making of the film, which Quattrochi and Botero wrote in three weeks. “True Friends,” which cost $100,000 to produce, came from credit cards, family loans and an occasional freebie. One Sherman Oaks restaurant owner donated her eatery for a location. Film editor Don Zimmerman, who edited “Liar Liar” and “The Nutty Professor,” gave a week of editing for free, and singer Jerry Vale donated four of his previously recorded songs to the soundtrack. Released last month, “True Friends” sold out two shows at the AMC Burbank. The picture grossed $15,900 in the first week, averaging about $3,180 per screen in the five theaters in which it debuted. “It’s a decent gross,” said Kelly, who recently moved the film to the United Artists Hermosa Beach location. “It’s good for them hopefully they’ll get some exposure,” added Kelly. Quattrochi and his partners had to raise an extra $30,000 for advertising, again through personal loans and credit cards. The money paid for a publicist and the production of a trailer. Quattrochi, Botero and co-star Loreto Mauro, along with friends, hit the streets and passed out thousands of fliers at all five theatres where the film was playing three weeks before its Jan. 30 release. All these efforts, said Quattrochi, are “obviously to entice a distributor and make the film worth more.” The team is now looking for opportunities for foreign and video distribution. Quattrochi is also confident that the experience gave him the exposure and connections he needs to get other offers, both for acting and directing. “We want to move on with our lives now,” said Quattrochi. “True Friends” has already helped Quattrochi land a role in a new film called “Zigs,” which he will also co-direct. The independent film is set in Sherman Oaks, and it revolves around three friends, not unlike the plot of the TV series “Seinfeld.”

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