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A local lensman aims for a Hollywood career — in Miami

They racked up less than a million dollars but surged ahead, vowing to cut deals and ask for favors for what they couldn't afford. The trio cast the movies' 75 roles, including its two lead characters — Sheaun McKinney as Nemesis and local Miami rapper Marlon "Messiah" Taylor as Razor. They rented equipment from Cine Videotech, found locations, secured permits, and, for 14 days last August, made one of 40 feature films shot in Miami in 2006, according to Jeff Peel, director of the Miami-Dade Mayor's Office of Film and Entertainment.

"Everyone was really stressed out at first because we were working 12- and 14-hour days," says Taylor, who is recording 17 songs for the film's soundtrack. "But after a while, the whole cast and crew started coming together and the chemistry was amazing." This was only Taylor's second foray into film, and his most ambitious. "I've seen the finished product, and I'm not just saying it because I'm in it, but it is good. It's so different from every other hip-hop film out there. It's going to be a hit. I really think it will make it."

In the 12 months since shooting wrapped, Cipolla and his crew have been in postproduction, working to perfect their final product.

Lee Cipolla (right) on the Miami set of Nemesis last August
Lee Cipolla
Lee Cipolla (right) on the Miami set of Nemesis last August

"It has almost been like a blur, really. I mean, here I am, and I know people are looking at me like, Who is this kid? What does he know? And that's fine. I don't have to prove I'm perfect. The movie will speak for itself."

With only the final credits to be added to Nemesis, Cipolla will take the next step, perhaps the most important of all: finding a distributor to represent him.

It's a huge challenge, as Cipolla knows. Even independent films with bankable, name stars don't always get picked up for distribution. "Distribution is the key to the whole business," says Grefe. "Without a distributor, you might have a great film, but it will never be anything more than a great home movie."

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