How did a simple street artist go from painting grains of rice to directing a movie with two Oscar Winning Legends? The answer to this question can be summarized in one word- chutzpah (and barrel loads of it at that!)
I’m guessing a few of you don’t know this term- it means audacity or nerve. The classic definition is that given by Leo Rosten:
“that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”
I’m not saying for a second that this is what Bret Carr would do but he certainly possesses the same qualities. I spoke to Bret on the phone last week and am finding it impossible to keep his incredible story to myself.
Many people in the same position would have been overpowered with the feelings of despair but Bret had other ideas- to manifest his dreams.
Here’s his story- be prepared to be literally stunned at the lengths one man will go to for the success of his vision.
Bret Carr moved to Los Angeles and began work as a street artist painting pictures on rice grains for tourists. But his real ambition was to make movies that change people’s lives.
Bret incredibly managed to get two Oscar winners to give him their time and energy for free and created the movie RevoLOUtion which he starred and directed in. It was released to the general public in April 2006.
This is amazing in itself but you’ll have to believe me when I say it’s only the beginning of the feats that Bret pulled off. Bret endured more difficulties then you could ever imagine along the way and the making of RevoLOUtion was a complete rollercoaster ride. All of these feats I’ll give to you in kind of a ‘chutzpah list’ called “The Rise of RevoLOUtion”. Prepare to be shocked.
First things first here’s the lowdown on what RevoLOUtion is about:
The Odd Plot – A Boxer that Stutters
RevoLOUtion is the fictional story of Lou, a stuttering ex-boxer who can only speak normally when starting trouble protecting the Brooklyn neighborhood in which he lives. Lou transforms from violent, extreme stutterer into a great, powerful communicator.
Awareness magazine note:
“The viewer so identifies with Carr’s Oscar Caliber performance, that they are taken on a near death psychological journey with “Lou”, and come out having had their own awakening.”
The Rise of RevoLOUtion
I’m going to share with you 8 phenomenal stories that many would consider seemingly impossible that perfectly demonstrate the sheer audacity and nerve that Bret possesses.
1. Giving up a $250 million Inheritance
The Chutzpah of Carr was evident from a very early age- at 18 he left his family where he was vice president of a billion dollar holding company ran by his grandfather, Victor Posner. He gave up a 250million dollar inheritance, and then exposed him on front page of Wall Street Journal as a child molester to protect his sister.
He couldn’t get her away from him, because Posner had 4 gun toting bodyguards that would chase her down and take her car back every time Carr got her out. Both Carr and his sister had no money so Carr had the audacity to take the initiative.
This story goes a long way in explaining why Carr is so passionate about getting this film out. Carr grew up in a relatively dysfunctional household and found a way out of reliving that drama- RevoLOUtion.
A tough decision to make… not for Carr!
2. Enlisting the help of Oscar Winner Redeker and Funding RevoLOUtion
Pic Left: The Deer Hunter, 5 times Oscar Winner written by Quinn Redeker, writer of RevoLOUtion
Bret Carr got in touch with Quinn Redeker, the writer of the five time Oscar Winner The Deer Hunter starring Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, to help him realize his dreams.
Redeker laughed off any suggestion of help, that was until Bret shared his amazing techniques that would be embedded in the film.
Truly inspired by Carr’s vision Redeker waived his usual 6 figure fee; so Carr set about his task armed with only passion and a small organized crew of technicians getting them to work for free. (You might be rightly getting the impression now that Bret can be very persuasive)
The out of pocket expenses were funded in a rather bizarre fashion- Carr is a talented street artist who can capture dreams on single grains of rice, which he would then sell to tourists.
The 300,000 dollar production was also very hard to obtain- Bret had to explain to Kodak that he was making the first film in 3 decades from the guy who liberated a generation of Vietnam Veterans with The DEER HUNTER, and how dare anyone want to charge him for the production. Let’s be honest, he’s got a point, The Deer Hunter is a masterpiece with an immense cult following. Kodak caved in and Bret got the $300,000 funding.
Bret has shown one way of producing a film with no money whatsoever and how to attract Oscar Winners- Could you have done the same?
3. Getting Bill Conti, the composer of the Rocky Soundtrack for free
Carr was struggling to get composers for the soundtrack to RevoLOUtion, with even those who only had a history in commercials charging hefty prices.
So Bret and his team took the task upon themselves singing themes and going around in circles always ended up always bellowing out the ROCKY theme.
The solution was obvious but still a bit of a pipe dream. They sent the movie to Bill Conti, the composer of the Oscar Winning Rocky Soundtrack, there was after all nothing to lose.
Bill’s response was that HE COULDN’T TURN AWAY FROM THE PERFORMANCE and HAD TO DO THE THEME.
With absolutely no money Bret needed to get Bill an orchestra, he managed to persuade 20 musicians to come together for 400 bucks and the rest is history. . .
Another Oscar Winner on board for the meager sum of $400. Go Bret!
4. Filming with Burt Young- ‘You Got Balls Kid’
Surely you’ve seen the legendary movie Rocky- Who hasn’t? Then you’ll all remember the character of Paulie, Rocky’s brother-in-law played by Burt Young.
Carr’s producer Mary Helen ran into Burt Young in the street and they managed to persuade him to shoot for an hour the next day, he possibly accepted because he was playing the role of an angry stutterer.
When Bret told Burt when and where he wanted to shoot Burt’s response was the classic “YOU GOT BALLS KID”- Sylvester Stallone eat your heart out- one of the most famous Rocky quotes!! Carr organized a crew to meet outside Burt’s broadway play in front of a police station without permits. And even got the cops to help shoot.
Check out the Video Clips Later:
Clearly Bret has huge balls- Keep the Hollywood legends coming Bret!
5. Jane Fonda and Kumar Pallana Saga
Which Hollywood legend would Bret target next?
Carr still wanted to reshoot some scenes for RevoLOUtion and set about enrolling the help of the legendary Hollywood actress and writer Jane Fonda. Despite being told by the powerful agency courting Carr, not to bother her, Bret got Jane’s email from a journalist and sent her the movie.
Jane declined the reshoot due to her hip operation and pending bus tour but instead gave a quote on the film:
“Intense film, an extraordinary performance”
She ALSO included in her email, brilliant reshoot notes which Carr implemented with Kumar Pallana, the iconic Indian character actor who stole the Spielberg Film “Terminal” from Tom Hanks. Carr’s team checked out Kumar on IMDB, he was 30 minutes outside of Hollywood, they met up, he then signed and starred.
6. Hard Hitting Agent Joe Klien gets RevoLOUtion the recognition it deserves
After being rejected 5 years in a row utilizing different cuts of the movie, Carr created a pseudonym and personality, JOE KLIEN, a hard hitting agent who didn’t take no for an answer.
Bret via his alter ego ‘Joe Klien’, got the movie into slamdance, an irreverent film festival. From this platform RevoLOUtion has won Jury Prizes and distinctions at 15 international film festivals.
Carr got representation from Jon Sheinberg, a Hollywood agent turned manager and son of Syd Sheinberg, ex-President of Universal for 20 years.
After being rejected 5 years in a row utilizing different cuts of the movie, Carr called up the head of the IFP who runs a work in progress screening each year of 5 of the worlds best undiminished films. Historically the program discovered Brothers McMullan, She’s gotta have it, and many others.
Carr was rejected, but authorized by Shienberg who didn’t have time to represent him as hoped for, Carr created a pseudonym and personality, JOE KLIEN, a hard hitting agent who didn’t take no for an answer.
Here’s the gist of how the conversation went:
“Hello, put the Executive Director on the phone please. This is Joe Klien from Jon Sheinberg’s office.”
“Michelle Byrd? This is Joe Klien, I work for Jon and Syd Shienberg. You know who they are don’t you.”
“Well let me remind you. Syd discovered a filmmaker named Steven Spielberg. NOW we represent Bret Carr, whose film FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT (RevoLOUtion’s name at the time) was rejected…
“Sir, first of this an organization and we have a screening committee which I’m not part of. I run the organization. Secondly selections are closed. The deadline is firmly over.”
Joe, “Let me tell you what. If you don’t take that tape home and make a decision yourself on Bret Carr’s movie, you are committing soul murder of the most important Cinematic Voice since Steven Spielberg. Do you understand me.”
Michelle Byrd, “Are you threatening me?”
Joe, slamming his fist on the table, (Bret told me he was so in character he scared himself with the flesh smacking wood):
“You’re goddamn right I’m threatening you, I’m threatening you with being haunted by killing a masterwork. What I’m really doing though, is talking to you like I’d talk to the head of a studio fighting for the LIFE of a filmmaker who has risked EVERYTHING to make the most powerful movie any of us in this office has ever seen.
A movie that changes lives. And if you don’t take that tape home and have an answer for me, at your authentic discretion… A yes or a no… after that movie has been watched by YOU personally tonight, then you will be responsible for crushing the most powerful motion picture visionary I have ever seen, and flushing thirty five years of this masterfilmmaker life down the toilet. DO YOU COMPREHEND WHAT I AM SAYING TO YOU?!”
Michelle, meekly, “Yes, sir.”
Joe, “Do we have an understanding that I will hear from you no later than 10 am my time tomorrow?”
Michelle, “Yes, sir.”
9am next day, Michelle, “We would be honored to have Bret’s movie in our festival.”
Bret via his alter ego ‘Joe Klien’ got the movie into slamdance, an irreverent film festival. From this platform RevoLOUtion has won Jury Prizes and distinctions at 15 international film festivals.
Yet another example of steely chutzpah.
7. Quest for Distribution
Carr wanted Distribution after being turned down by everyone so he shot a 20 dollar short PASSION OF THE HEIST.
He emailed to 3000 people, and within days it was forwarded all around Hollywood and reported on the radio from Marty Grove who also is a writer for the Hollywood Reporter. He made Bret FILMMAKER OF THE MONTH .
However, the distribution deal fell through, as the company’s finances didn’t come together. Restless Carr relentlessly with no money and no distributor cracked on and filmed another short starring LOU BENEDETTI… FARANHEIT 6911 costs 20 dollars and makes it onto the front page again, of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER- BUT…
Despite all this success and relentless effort to get distribution Carr had no distributor UNTIL… he stumbled across an inheritance from his newly rich mother.
8. Crazy Experiment that Shocked Studio Execs:
The Drugs Test
Carr came into a lot of money- $300,000 left to him in an inheritance, however in another bizarre twist he had to take a drug test to convince his newly rich mother that his addiction to perfecting RevoLOUtion wasn’t actually a drug addiction.
Carr naturally put all of this money into the NY and LA release of the movie in a revolutionary ingenious idea. Take a look below:
Bret then had the audacity to promote RevoLOUtion in a way that was to take the movie world by storm, you’d think it would be better to take things one step at a time.
This video clip has managed to get 556 diggs within 16 hours of being posted on digg.com. It has way over 10,000 views on YouTube
Cary Berglund, NBC Reporter:
“Imagine if every dollar you had to pay to see a movie was with the confidence of 20/20 hindsight”
The revolutionary experiment, pay what you think it’s worth, is an all new approach to ticket sales and has the potential to revolutionize the movie theatre experience.
Bret Carr explains the logic behind his hot idea:
“I walk out of 90% of everything I ever see, that’s why I wanted to give the power to the audience to be able to decide how much they like the film”
The result of the experiment was exceptional- the NY and LA release was double the average box office take outgrossing 90% of the Studio Independents along the way.
You’d think Bret would just be happy to finally get his film out to the public but instead he creates a whole new approach to movie-going.
Overview of The Rise of RevoLOUtion. . .
These 8 sensational stories clearly demonstrate the chutzpah Bret possesses- How much balls can one guy have? The length and breadth Bret Carr will go to to get his movie the exposure it deserves is astonishing. SO…
The Future of RevoLOUtion
Despite the sheer chutzpah evident in Bret Carr’s nature the major problem holding back RevoLOUtion is the problem of distribution. This movie has to get out to the masses- check out the major impact it’s had on audiences who have been lucky enough to see it:
The phenomenal impact the movie has had on real people’s lives:
Now Carr is trying to build up a fan base for this miraculous film so the public can witness this heart-warming and awakening movie.
And you can be a part of this by subscribing to his community of videos which show excerpts,trailers, arrests, and battles in getting RevoLOUtion made.
Bret Carr is a truly remarkable character with a rock solid nerve who has harnessed his feelings to become a success and inspiration to many. And I’m sure you’ll agree this is mirrored in his movie.
Who has more chutzpah than Bret? What did you think of the movie? Share your thoughts- you can also Stream or purchase his movie.
check out the revoLOUtion website>>
Burt Young Cameo in RevoLOUtion:
In this clip Burt Young threatens to bust up Lou, the stuttering boxer from the movie RevoLOUtion, who confuses Burt for his character Paulie in the Rocky movies.