SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Four years ago, LT Coopwood III sold his house to finance his childhood dream of producing a film in his hometown of Sacramento. That dream is coming to life.
His first full-length feature, "North Central" has been accepted into five independent film festivals nationwide and counting.
It tells the story of Everett. Everett is a high school track athlete navigating love, temptation and trouble growing up in the suburbs of Sacramento in the independent film.
"It shows that no matter where you come from- you can still mess up," Coopwood said.
This story and its lessons are based on Coopwood’s own experiences.
"My message to kids is that it doesn’t matter where you start. It’s how you finish -- and Everett and me finish strong," he said.
The writer and director spent his early childhood growing up in Del Paso Heights and his teenage and adult years in Antelope.
"It’s kind of traumatizing as a kid seeing police and seeing your neighbor arrested or doors kicked in when you're in first grade," Coopwood said. "I’ve seen both sides, the hood and the good area. I grew up in the middle class. My dad and mom worked very hard to get us out of the streets, out of that neighborhood, and I appreciate that because it gave me a better perspective of growing up in Sac. “
His passion is to tell stories through film.
“I’ve been writing scripts on three-ring binders as a kid," he said.
He said his diverse experiences shaped him as a filmmaker- making it a point in "North Central" to highlight Sacramento's racial and socioeconomic diversity. The film doesn't take place in downtown Sacramento but rather the suburban neighborhoods he grew up in.
Coopwood said he also draws inspiration from other Black film makers from Sacramento, like Deon Taylor.
"I watched movies like "Meet the Blacks" and that was a good inspiration. That’s a guy from Sacramento. Shout out to Deon Taylor," Coopwood said. "Because like it shows people like me that I could do it too."
With pitches to Hollywood unanswered, Coopwood forged his own path. He sold his home in 2018 to finance his first full-length film.
"The movie is real. It’s not fake. It’s not Hollywood. It’s actually authentic," he said."
He ended up with a shoestring budget of $60,000. His team shot the movie over 10 days during the summer of 2019 in Sacramento neighborhoods and Marysville High School.
With the film hitting the film festival circuit, Coopwood is feeling a sense of pride in his Sacramento story. It’s been official selected by five independent film festivals nationwide so far, including the Austin's Capital City Black Film Festival, the Las Vegas Independent Film Festival, and the Studio City International Film Festival.
"I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the love of film. And we got a story to tell one page at a time," Coopwood said.
As an entrepreneurial filmmaker, he says he's like a small business owner, and he can’t do what he does without community support.
To learn more about North Central, click HERE.