Aug. 15--After years of working and dreaming, a central Ohio couple will finally see their efforts come to fruition.
Husband-and-wife filmmakers Alonzo and Aqua Jones will attend the premiere of Doc Crow: The Legend of Johnny 2-Strings (2013) tonight at the Drexel Theatre.
"I'm excited," said Aqua Jones, 52, who, with her husband, recently saw the film in a friend's home theater. "He has a big screen and theater seats, but it's not a theater." The 78-minute mock-umentary is about a fictional blues singer who, in the 1950s and '60s, was beginning to make a name for himself before mysteriously vanishing. Alonzo stars in and directed the movie; Aqua was the co-director, co-producer and co-writer.
For Alonzo, 43, the film is the culmination of a 20-year love of performing that began with stage work in an Obetz community theater troupe in the early '90s.
His movie work began in 1993 during filming of The Shawshank Redemption in Mansfield, Ohio. Alonzo was cast as an extra, but his scenes were cut. Although family demands forced him to cut back on his film work -- the couple was married in 1989 and have six children -- Jones continued to write screenplays in hopes of finding a producer. His break came in 2001, when his wife flew to Los Angeles to appear on the Judge Judy TV show. While there, she found a brochure about casting extras.
"I said, 'If you really want to get into acting, go to L.A.,'" she recalls telling him.
She gave him two weeks to find work -- and he did, as an extra in movies and TV shows.
For three years, Jones shuttled between his work in Los Angeles and his family in Columbus, finding small roles on TV and in films.In 2005, the Jones family moved to Los Angeles. Alonzo enrolled in a two-year directing program at Los Angeles City College and worked in short films -- most notably Eli's Liq u or Store (2007), which he co-wrote and directed with Arnold Chun.
Aqua gained experience in casting and wardrobing in Alonzo's films. After dabbling in writing some blues songs in 2008, Alonzo began creating a movie about a blues singer who was unknown for decades until a trunk of his recordings was found after Hurricane Katrina. In 2009, Alonzo created a short film and in 2011 began writing Doc Crow in earnest.
After the birth of their grandson in 2011 in Columbus, the Joneses decided to move back. Working on a limited budget, the Joneses called upon relatives and friends to fill the acting roles and work as crew members. (News anchorwoman Yolanda Harris of WSYX-WTTE -- Channels 6 and 28 -- appears as a news reporter.) And, as word of mouth about the film spread, technicians donated their time.
"We could pay them a compliment," Alonzo said.
Shooting took place from February 2011 to September 2012 in central Ohio. The movie -- with Alonzo in the starring role as Doc Crow -- will be shown tonight at the Drexel Theatre as part of a program to assist emerging filmmakers. Rather than paying rent, filmmakers can screen their film and pay the Drexel 50 percent of the box-office proceeds.
The couple, who hope to land the film on the festival circuit, plan to continue making movies in Ohio, where tax incentives, low costs and varied seasons and landscapes make filming easier.
And the fringe benefits are better in Ohio than in California.
"Unless I can take my grandbaby," Aqua said, "I'll be here."
(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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