dust off the red carpet

by jack diablo
If you’re new to town like me, you may not be aware that Jacksonville was once home to a booming film industry. Before Hollywood established itself as the world headquarters of cinema, filmmakers migrated to the First Coast to have a place to shoot during those frigid months. Things have changed since the studios packed up and headed West, but the embers of that filmmaking spirit never died.
Anthony Kilburn started KillaCozzy Productions with his fiance, Halina Lubczanska, as a wedding and event videography company. As the economy began to decline and business dried up, they felt it was time to start working on a film that Anthony had written. What started as Self Portrait, a small exercise in moviemaking, evolved into something much more, eventually assuming the moniker Chiaroscuro, Baby.
Making a feature film is no small feat. There are a myriad of factors to consider and tons of pieces to fit together. Between catering, conflicting schedules, technical issues, clashing egos, etc., it can be a long and expensive process. But Kilburn refuses to let those odds hinder him and his team from making their masterpiece. In fact, so far the movie has cost only around $20,000 to produce, pocket change compared to the majority of films, even the independent ones. They’ve managed to achieve this impressive feat by tapping the unrealized resources and talent of the community. From using Craigslist to issue a casting call and recruiting friends at local bars and clubs to using local businesses and residences as shooting locations, Chiaroscuro, Baby is keeping it hyper-local. Most of the film’s costumes even come from the cast and crews’ personal closets.
What really sets this project apart from other independent films is the way KillaCozzy Productions plans to challenge the traditional film distribution model. “We’re entering a different age of film right now. We’re in a paradigm shift,” says Kilburn. As opposed to seeking out big money and distribution deals, KCP favors a more grassroots marketing approach. In the same vein as the way bands are able to build a fan-base without the support of major record labels, Anthony plans to use new avenues of promotion and exposure. “We have this fancy-schmancy tool called the internet and we can do whatever we want with it. We can reach our audience for free,” Anthony says.
One very important event on the horizon is the premiere of the movie, which will be screened at the Florida Theatre on November 4th. Set to coincide with the November Art Walk, the event will be a black-tie affair, complete with red carpet and all the fanfare of a Hollywood premiere. By orchestrating what Anthony refers to as “not only the biggest film event, but the biggest event that Jacksonville has ever seen,” they hope to generate enough buzz to propel the movie to the next level. The film is currently in the final stages of post-production but in the meantime you can watch the trailer on KillaCozzy’s YouTube site (www.youtube.com/killacozzy). Tickets for the premiere will go on sale Friday, August 7th at the Florida Theatre Box Office and through Ticketmaster.
Rest assured that Chiaroscuro, Baby will not be the last you hear of KillaCozzy Productions. The next project on the table is a science fiction film that will expand upon the production company’s capabilities. And KillaCozzy’s ambitions are clear. “I would like to build a filmmaking empire in Jacksonville. It used to be the filmmaking capitol of the world. If we’re able to monetize our art then we can continue to do projects like this and continue to give work to people in the community,” Anthony explains. “The way it is now, Hollywood comes into town, uses our resources and throws us a bone, then goes back and makes their money in L.A. Why can’t we do it here?”
If nothing else, this unique project will showcase the wealth of local talent in Jacksonville and show just what is possible with a little spirit and a lot of hard work. Perhaps Jacksonville’s cinematic future will trump its historic past. Only time will tell.


april, 2022