Living the Reel Life

(Last Updated On: November 29, 2013)

Missouri City man brings independent film projects to life in Fort Bend County

Charles Irving, owner of Irving Films and Productions, never planned to venture into filmmaking until his daughter, Lakisha Lemons, studied film in school and was inspired to launch her own independent film company, LL Productions, a Texas-based film and TV production company.

“Actually it was not my first desire, mine was the restaurant business. I just got involved because my daughter began working on various projects and it now has evolved on its own,” says Irving.

Owner of several successful barbecue establishments, Irving’s original passion was for cooking.

“I quit my job here working for a corporate company and took my savings and decided to open my first restaurant called Charlie’s Seafood,” says Irving.

Irving struggled in the first year, but eventually grew, opening restaurants in Dallas and San Antonio.

“I was very persistent and determined and I think that is the approach I have now in the movie business.  I think that you just have to work extremely hard at whatever it is you are doing,” says Irving.

Irving is doing just that as he juggles the challenges of owning and operating successful restaurant establishments, while producing two recent independent film projects.

I think that African Americans can be just as successful in this business as anybody.

“I think people who are motivated and really want to excel, have just as much opportunity here as they would in any other business,” says Irving.

In April, Irving Films entered post-production on an independent film called “Border Break.”  The film, which premiered in Sugar Land, chronicles the disappearance of a college student, “Janet Taylor” who travels with a group of college friends to Mexico for Spring Break.

Lemons who inspired her father’s interest in filmmaking serves as director on the project.

The film is preceded by a “Help Find Janet Documentary,” which focuses on the personal lives of each character surrounded by memories and personal stories from their family and friends. Not only does it take you on a personal journey of getting to know the characters one on one, but it also gives you the resolution and closure told from close family members that the Border Break movie is unable to give.Irving’s daughter, director of the film, believes the two elements of “Border Break” and the “Help Find Janet Doc” combined will put the audience in the mindset of having someone go missing unaware of their safety and surroundings.

“I believe that if we are faced with raw emotions with what we are seeing on the screen, then we will care a little more the next time we see a missing poster or see a news story… because the audience will now have a sense of how it feels through seeing this film,” says Lemons.

I am confident that “Border Break: Help Find Janet” will be a successful film project as well as a strong medium in spreading awareness on the growing rate of endangered missing adults,” she adds.

Irving echoes his daughter’s hopes for the film as he works to promote it to distributors.

“We have sent [the film] out to a number of companies and we have gotten feedback already on it,” says Irving.

Border Break has generated some buzz prompting a recent visit by Irving to California to meet with prospective distributors.

“Right now we haven’t decided where we are going to sign the rights. It just depends on who takes the rights to as to where it is going to end up,” says Irving.

Irving, one of a small number of independent filmmakers , based in Fort Bend County is carving out his own niche in the industry.

On the heels of the premiere screening of Border Break, he is working on another film project, called ‘Hope.’

“I wanted to be creative in bringing something to the big screen that I thought was real and I thought about bringing to light some of the things that happen in everyday life,” says Irving.

The film takes a look at the life of a young man in the throes of dealing with both the loss of a job that throws him on hard times and the challenges of going through a divorce.

“Sometimes we deal with real issues and sometimes get to a hopeless state. I thought it would be great to bring that message to the big screen to encourage others that even when times are hard you can still be successful, if you endure,” says Irving.

In the midst of his struggles the main character has a spiritual encounter with God, shares Irving.

“He finds hope in the end, because he hung in there. He found his faith in knowing Christ as Lord and from that point his life changes.

So we bring that out at the end of the film. This young man who seemed to be hopeless comes out living a normal life and having all of the things that he lost back, because he was able to endure and cling to his faith,” says Irving.

Irving’s son, Jonathan, bitten by the acting bud, appeared in his sister’s TV series project, “Hollywood Hills,” which was filmed in a mansion in Sugar Land.

The Missouri City-based film company also produced a movie called “Be My Teacher,” which was released by Maverick, a California-based film distributor and is available online and at Walmart and Best Buy.

In a short five-year time span, Irving has made significant headway in the independent film industry and has plans for more creative projects on the horizon.

“I would like to be more heavily involved in the film business,” says Irving, who is grooming another son to take over his restaurant business as he makes plans to retire from the food industry.

“I have a passion now for the film business and to be a little more involved hopefully here in the Fort Bend area. I also hope to build my own studio in the future,” says Irving.

Whatever the future holds for Irving, he  has found his passion and is sold out to living the “reel life.”

To find out more or to view trailers of Irving’s growing collection of independent films, visit http://irvingfilms.com/.