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Two Good Guys
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Independent film set in Fall River
MICHAEL W. FREEMAN, Herald News Staff Reporter     May 18, 2001

Independent filmmaker Robert Manuels stands beside a poster advertising his first major production, "Two Good Guys" which will have a few special showings at the New Harbour Mall cinema this week.

FALL RIVER -- It's been a long, tough road for Robert Manuels, but by tonight, it should all be worth it.

He plans to attend a local movie theater, where a sold out crowd is expected to show up and watch the independent film "Two Good Guys," which Manuels wrote, directed and stars in.

The Fall River native has been sweating bullets all week, nervously hoping that everything goes smoothly. But he's optimistic that audiences will enjoy the film about two guys living in Fall River who get caught up in the drug trade.

"I'm so happy now," he said. "People will see it and say it was worth every minute."

Area residents can watch this historic film tonight through Sunday at the New Harbour Mall Cinema 8. It will be shown tonight at 9 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. All three quickly sold out, so a fourth showing was added on Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are available at My Daily Grind in Harbour Mall.

After that, Manuels has booked a showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. He hopes to book it at other local cinemas in the months ahead, and has also entered it in next month's Nantucket Film Festival.

It took a long time for "Two Good Guys" to move from being just an idea to hitting a big screen.

Four years ago, at the age of 22, Manuels enrolled in the Boston Film/Video Foundation, an independent film school that teaches the nuts and bolts of filmmaking.

He purchased his own equipment, then started working on the script.

"I actually wrote the script at the end of summer 1998, then started preparing everything, getting the proper equipment in early 1999," he said. "In the spring I started casting for the movie," choosing local actors he had studied with at Bristol Community College.

Filming began in the summer of 1999. "It was very hot," he said. "It was so tough. We just dealt with it. It was long days. We worked 40-50 hours a week, and without sleep."

At the same time, he was working full time as a driver for The Herald News.

"People used to ask me, "How are you still awake," he said. "I was because I didn't want to see my ship sink."

"We were filming at Maplewood Park, and it was so hot everybody was sweating to death," said Lina Farias, who plays Darryl's girlfriend. "A lemonade truck came by and we were all screaming Stop! We tried to flag it down. Another time, the police came out. They didn't know we were filming there. "Manuels got a lot of strength and inspiration during the production from his family. His brother, Jamie, served as the cinematographer, and his parents, Richard and Elaine Manuels, provided emotional support.

He thanks all three of them "for giving me the ingredients inside to do something extraordinary. I' m not from a rich family, but I'm very fortunate to come from a great family."

This is only the second independent film made in Fall River, said Michael Martins, curator of The Fall River Historical Society.

The first, "Below The Hill," was made in 1963 by the late Angus Bailey, a well-known director and performer with the Little Theatre of Fall River.

Beyond that, Martins said, film crew's have rarely ventured into the city, except for the occasional documentary, most of them focusing on the Lizzie Borden story.

That's what makes "Two Good Guys" so significant, Martins said.

The film has generated some controversy. Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. read about the film's plot and became nervous about how Fall River would be depicted.

"I certainly wish him well," the mayor said. "However, what I read about it seemed to suggest Fall River would be portrayed as a drug haven. I'm not quite sure he's doing his hometown a favor. You want the community to be promoted, and you want to encourage all types of entrepreneurial activities, but you want your city portrayed in a positive light."

Manuels insists his film does that, by showing how two city residents escape the lure of the drug world and how their often-harrowing experiences strengthen their bond.

"It's a movie about friendship. Ultimately, that's what it comes down to," he said. "It's a movie about growing up. The script is based on a friendship I have, and the drug activity in the movie is a twist to create a conflict."

As he searches for cinema bookings and film festivals to enter, Manuels said he's already started planning for a second feature.

"I've got a lot of ideas for what I want to do in the future," he said. "I'm definitely going to do another one.

"He also hopes to be an inspiration to other aspiring filmmakers, though he cautions them that it's not only very hard work, but quite expensive.

"It was $800 here and $2,000 there," he said. "The sound mix cost me $3,500. Then there's the cut of the negative -- the guy who takes the negative of whole movie and cuts it together. Every edit you see in the movie, it goes for $5 a cut."

Still, he said the cost was well worth it.

"The reason I did this is I wanted to be respected as a filmmaker," he said. "There's a big difference between film and video. In terms of the picture quality, my film really looks nice. For it to come out as good as this is really great. Even the guys in the lab were amazed with the movie."

Tonight, Manuels will find out if audiences agree.

�The Herald News 2001

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