While I have mentioned before my unique record—being the only person on earth who is an International Master of chess, a produced filmmaker, and a published novelist I have not talked too much about my film.
Another time I may talk about the artistic side of this venture, but for now let’s follow the money—it’s a typical Hollywood story, though a painful one.
Around 1996 I had a terrific idea for a movie. While I was a published novelist, I saw this as a film from the beginning. Nonetheless I wrote it as a novel first, and then, to make a long story short, I went to film school (Watkins College of Art and Design, in Nashville, TN) and while earning my BFA, I learned how to make a film—and I made it, entitled Confederate Saber.
I wrote, directed and produced the film, literally spending every last cent of my own money, sparing no expense—even shooting on 35mm!
The film was personal, an arthouse exploitation of all the hot button points of a Yankee living in the New and Old South: the story told of an interracial ménage a trois shattered by murder. A white man and his two lovers, one beautiful Russian girl (Ilona Grinberg), one beautiful black girl (Mary McCallum), live in harmony—until the man is murdered with an antique Confederate Saber (thus the title). The women ultimately must find revenge on their own.
The tagline is this: “Between the New South and the Old, there is a fault line—racial, sexual … murderous.”
The film is hot, sexy and politically edgy, so much so that no one in Tennessee would work on it, due to the explicit criticism of the racism that still lives today. One notorious shot in the film features the 25 ft tall statue of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest that looms over Nashville. Forrest is a hero in those parts, but I always wondered why—because he was a slave trader, or the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?
So I make this film from the heart, and come to Los Angeles with it and my last $45 in 2002. When I finally get an offer, from Eric Louzil and Echelon Entertainment, I jump at it.
Louzil retitles the film “Wicked Pursuits” from my Confederate Saber, and sends it straight to video—and it’s a smash. In those days (it’s now fall 2002) there was a Hollywood video on the corner, and a Blockbuster up the street. I watched my film get rented voraciously every weekend, and I knew I was in the chips …
Well, someone was.
I had got nothing upfront, only a royalty arrangement.
When I tried to get my first royalty, I found that Louzil would never take my calls—never answered my certified letters—finally, didn’t respond to my lawsuit.
Again, long story short: years go by, two lawyers working on commission go by, and I win … big deal. Film professionals say my take should have been about $300,000, which would have been a nice profit. What we could prove was that I was owed about $212,000, and so about seven years after my film came out, I got a judgment for that amount against Eric Louzil.
The last act is this: of course he didn’t pay. So I got one judgment recovery person after him, and she gave up after a year. Now I have another one, and he’s been working for over a year, and neither he nor I have received one thin dime … but he’s still working. One of these days he might penetrate the shell corporations registered in Nevada—or maybe Louzil has Mitt Romney accounts in the Caymans that we don’t even know about.
One thing’s for sure, my passion project made a ton of money, distributed on various video formats here and abroad—and I’ve never been paid one cent.
But Eric Louzil, a good businessman by Hollywood standards, is still distributing films.