While big Hollywood movies tend to dominate the entertainment scene, there are hundreds of smaller films done each year that are targeted to specific audiences, in specific categories. One of those is the so-called "Urban Film" category, popular with African Americans.
One of the more successful low-budget filmmakers in that category is Greg Carter, who has produced 18 films in recent years and directed half of them. Many of Carter's films are set in his home base of Houston, Texas. His new film features plenty of action, but there also is romance and some humor.
It is called "A Gangland Love Story" and is now available in much of the world on DVD or in on-demand streaming video. The plot involves three sets of families involved in the illegal drug trade, with blacks and Mexicans at the center of it all.
"This ain't about blacks and Mexicans anymore; this is about family," said Carter.
The story is inspired by William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," but this time one lover is black and the other Latino, a twist Greg Carter thinks the bard would have liked.
"Had Shakespeare been in our day," said Carter, "he probably would have really mixed up his stories. I think that "Romeo and Juliet" would have been a story of two people of different races."
Carter shot the film in Houston, using a variety of locations, including an alley downtown near a popular night club.
"This is the alley where two young lovers meet. They basically run away from the fight scene at the club where they meet and this is where they embrace and kiss in this alley," said Carter.
Carter says Houston's sprawling urban area, offered him a variety of places for shooting. "I have some locations that look like they are in old Mexico, I have some locations that look right out of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, big mansions next to very small neighborhoods. In fact, the city of Houston actually doubles for two or three cities in the movie."
Carter attributes his success as an independent filmmaker to his disciplined approach to the business of making a film and his careful consideration of what his target audience wants.
"I know that my audience has a particular lean towards liking action and also romance, movies that offer escapism," said Carter. "So when I look at different projects for an endeavor I want to make sure that it has those elements in it because I know what my audience likes."
Carter says "A Gangland Love Story" moves beyond his basic target audience of African-Americans and includes Latinos, Russians and others in the list of characters.
"I have always found myself balancing between what kind of story I want to tell, but one that tells really urban stories, really involving black people. But this story is different because it does have, I mean, only about one third of the cast is actually black, the other two thirds are white-Anglo and Latino."
Carter now works in both Houston and Los Angeles, home of the U.S. movie industry, but he says Houston is still his favorite filmmaking location.
"In L.A. you are fighting to be one of the few that is selected. In Houston everyone is trying to support you to see you do well."
Carter recently completed a distribution deal for global marketing of his film on DVD worldwide with MCN.TV and a separate deal with Asia Gulf International to make his film available on cable TV pay-for-view channels, as well as DVD in India and most other nations in Asia. He also is doing pre-production planning for a new film "Open All Night," which will start shooting in India in January of next year.