James Evangelatos has made his mark in the world of independent films.
Working as an executive producer on the low-budget production “Local Color” — opening Friday in Southern California — the longtime Glendale resident is proud to see his name in the final credits of a film that has a little something for everyone, he said.
Although Evangelatos wasn’t attracted to a career in film in his early years, no matter what career path he chose or what project he took on, the entertainment industry seemed to be a step or two away, he said.
Joining the Glendale Bears Youth Football Organization in 1969, the first year the program was introduced, Evangelatos immediately fell in love with the sport, he said.
After graduating from Glendale High School in 1976, he continued to play football for Glendale Community College before transferring to UCLA to study theater. His initial goal was to become an actor in the movie industry, but he eventually found his niche in real estate and business.
He currently manages an apartment complex in Redondo Beach and is a part owner of Las Rocas Resort & Spa in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.
In 1984, Evangelatos opened up a restaurant in Sherman Oaks. It was there where he would get to know George Gallo, writer-director of “Local Color.”
“George and I immediately hit it off,” Evangelatos said. “After a while we went our separate ways, but we always talked about making an independent film together.”
Gallo, who has written films such as “Wise Guys” and “Midnight Run,” said “Local Color” is very special to him.
The film is a semi-autobiographical account of Gallo’s life, tells the story of a young aspiring artist who spends a summer with an alcoholic genius painter from Russia who has lost touch with his passion for art.
The young artist, played by Trevor Morgan, attempts to extract the secrets of Representational style from the mind of Nicoli Seroff, played by Academy Award-nominated actor Armin Mueller-Stahl.
“This story is based off of my life, so there was a tremendous amount of sentimental value across the board,” Gallo said.
Because Evangelatos, a friend of 25 years, played such a major role in getting this film started, Gallo said he wanted to ensure that the movie did well.
The film was shot in just under a month with a budget of less than $5 million.
Although Evangelatos was extremely happy with the final results, the journey from start to finish was by no means a smooth one, he said.
Throughout the production process, Evangelatos dealt with everything from insufficient funds to finding the actors who were willing to take a major pay cut to be a part of the film.
When all seemed to be going well and the movie was in the final stages, the team experienced a major setback. The film was shot in Louisiana in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit.
Evangelatos remembers watching the storm developing offshore and hoping that the production team would be able to wrap up the film before they had to evacuate.
“We faced so many hurdles while making this film that I was so grateful when we finally finished,” Evangelatos said.
Although a number of studios did show interest in making the film, Gallo preferred to make it independently to ensure that he had complete creative control, Evangelatos added.
“If we had decided to go with a studio, a few production problems may have been averted, but what it came down to was making sure that the film accurately depicted the events that took place that summer in 1974,” Evangelatos said. “This is truly a remarkable film with amazing actors. The story really makes people think about longevity and their purpose in life.”
Evangelatos’ wife, Marisa, said she was extremely moved by the script when her husband read it to her nearly four years ago.
“I was brought to tears,” she said. “I was eight months’ pregnant at the time and wasn’t sure if the story got to me or my heightened emotions from being pregnant,” she said jokingly.
Both Gallo and Evangelatos look forward to working on more projects together in the future, they said.
“Every great movie starts with a great script,” Evangelatos said. “There are no special effects and nothing artificial in this film. This is the story of one man’s unforgettable summer, and it is truly one unforgettable film.”
WHAT: “Local Color” film
WHEN: Releasing citywide Friday
WHERE: Throughout Southern California