James Kerwin is a gifted Writer, Editor, Director and Executive Producer who had an innovative idea back in 2004: To create a film production company in the spirit of the model traditionally used by Non-Profit Theatres. Even in Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, the concept was particularly novel. And, just exactly like Los Angeles, the lofty and high-minded project was less than easy:
“We went to the IRS and told them what we wanted to do, and thus began a lengthy application and approval process necessary to establish a Film Production Company as a 501(c) (3), a Private Operating Foundation,” Mr. Kerwin explains. “There aren’t many people in the Film Industry who’ve done this before; I may have seen one or two over the years, but I think we may be the only people doing what we’re doing today,” he continues: “There were a lot of obstacles. A ton of paperwork involved, and you basically need to convince the IRS that you’re going to produce films that have some sort-of endemic, educational or artistic value to them.” That was 15-years ago, and it certainly worked.
Named after the abode of the Muses in Greek mythology, the Helicon Arts Cooperative is dedicated to the production of intelligent cinema, with a special emphasis on artistic merit. As their website states: “Helicon Arts Cooperative was founded to present unique, original, and entertaining productions to the community, exploring and advancing intellectual, psychological, philosophical, scientific, historical, and literary themes.”
Indeed, as evidenced by 2009’s Film Noir/Indie-Thriller “Yesterday Was A Lie” (given 4 and a-half stars by Film Threat Magazine, BEING ) and 2013’s Sci Fi Thriller “R.U.R Genesis” (an adaptation of the 1920 science fiction play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek), the production values are high. And the wiring, editing, direction and acting almost raises the Indie Film bar. They look, well...expensive.
“People think you can’t make money with a non-profit company, but it’s not true,” Kerwin explains. “We raise money from our donors, folks who want to support the arts through their charitable contributions. Then we pay our people and our contractors, cover our overhead costs, and make our film. We simply direct any excess profits back into the Mission Statement of the Cooperative. Our donors get the tax write-off, we get to Market our film and take it to festivals, and together we’re supporting Intelligent, Artistic Filmmaking here in Los Angeles.”
Mr. Kerwin was pleased to be able to announce good news with the upcoming Blu-Ray/Digital Re-Release of the critically acclaimed feature film “Yesterday Was A Lie,” next week by IndieFlix in New York, on the 10th Anniversary of its original release, and we asked him about it: “It’s a Noir film, though not shot in traditional black & white, about the nature of the human psyche, the nature of relationships, and it’s got some science sprinkled in-there too...about human consciousness. It’s kind of a heady, philosophical thriller-noir, if I can describe it that way.” Sounds compelling to this writer. (Looks like it’s streaming online at Amazon Prime, too!)
With Intelligent & Artistic filmmaking, charitable giving, and more projects in the works, Kerwin’s Helicon Arts Cooperative looks poised for great things to come.
By Patrick Pitre
Amid the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, it can often be easy to overlook Los Angeles as a whole when it comes to the arts. With the latest information on box office booms and bombs, the largest artists in the world hitting the stage every weekend, we can miss the forest for the trees. This is where smaller events that evoke a sense of nostalgia can be great palate cleansers and the LA County Fair has been quickly becoming that option.
With the biggest stars of yesterday hitting the stage at different times throughout the venue, you have the ability to check out MC Hammer perform on the same stage as Biz Markie and Coolio. Hip-hop heads of the area will have more than their fill of some of the biggest names in the game over the last few decades, while also taking in the various other sources of entertainment the event provides. Giving you more than enough options when it comes to your musical fill while leaving room for other festivities as you peruse the days long showcase of fun.
One of the major benefits when it comes to a musical line-up such as this one is the fact that a majority of the acts are rather family-friendly, despite being in a genre of music that can generally be considered touch and go to most parents. With a variety of music styles and the danceability of specific artists, it can be a great time for the entire family as you can bring the little ones without fear of boredom or exposure to lyrics or subject matter you’re not comfortable with, making it an even better option for everyone involved.
Something to appreciate when it comes to events of this type is the capability to see to a number of entertainment desires in one outing. From rides to food, music to games, the LA County Fair provides a variety of options in order to ensure that everyone in your party is having a great time. From those who have lived in the LA area for their entire lives, to those making the trip into the city in order to experience some of the fun they hear about, it’s a time that can be used for celebration and a family outing alike.
Whether you’re a long-time fan of the groups performing or are just looking to see what all your friends are excited about, taking the opportunity to get out to the fair is a throwback to the times we had growing up. Listening to music we grew up with brings out that sense of nostalgia and the capability to share both with friends and loved ones can be an experience unlike any other. Whether you’re from the LA area or making your way into town, you can be sure that the fair will be something that provides memories to carry with you forever.