At $500,000, Tom Parnell’s film’s budget is a long way from the tens of millions spent on Hollywood films. Still, last week, he started working with Armand Assante in Tampa as a detective in Parnell’s film 120/80, about a man who suffers a heart attack and begins a violent campaign to identify and eliminate the stresses in his life.
“I never imagined this,” said the indie film producer, 55. “To get a star like Armand Assante — wow. I got goose bumps when I heard him reading dialogue I wrote.”
“The film is a psychological suspense thriller that is all about human relations,” Assante said. “And that’s what I want in a script and a production. The success of independent films is also based on the human relations of the people who make it. It isn’t about bureaucracy or budgets. It’s about artists coming together over a creative goal.”
Assante called friends of his in the Tampa film industry to ask their opinions on the project and received positive feedback. Production in the Tampa Bay area sealed the deal for him.
“I would never take a role based on location,” said the Mambo Kings star. “But it being in Tampa helped. I have been trying to help Tampa make its film industry work, and I hope this film helps the area get more films like it.”
Assante’s link to the city began in 2009 when the Gasparilla Film Festival presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has since been involved as a member of its advisory board, host of events, teacher at acting seminars and a film presenter.
In 2012, his Dialogue From the Steppes, on his feelings for the people of Kazakhstan and their formation of an independent state, won the award for best short documentary at the fest.
“I want to prove that a great film does not need a huge budget,” Assante said. “If you have the right team of creative minds working together that is all you need.”