Rap icon Ice-T and film maker Paul “Paulie Paul” Eliacin are collaborating on an independent film, “Up In Harlem,” and hope to spark a new era in independently funded films. The movie hits stores nationally today (June 22) on DVD.
With $80,000 of his own money, Eliacin paid for the film after many African American heavyweights inside the industry refused to help him, he said. Despite the odds, Eliacin managed to finish the movie and pull Ice in as a major selling point.
Admitting he did the film for free, Ice-T said, “If you have 100 million, I want my paper. If you ain’t got nothing, then I ain’t gonna ask you for nothing. Now, you just dealing with timing. For people in the game, money is time and time is money. If I can work a day and I can make X amount of dollars and you want a day, you got to find a day I’m not doing nothing.”
The pair became friends on the set of “Law and Order,” where Eliacin is a driver and Ice-T is an actor.
The movie is about an ambitious seventeen-year-old girl who scores a college scholarship in her native Harlem. However, her dreams are put in jeopardy after she meets a smooth talking Harlem hustler posing as a Wall Street employee. After she sees him murder someone, he threatens her life.
Eliacin managed to make something out of his life, because the fortysomething director has had a troubled past that still lingers. Years ago, he accidentally shot a man that owed him money.
“I put a gat to his head, it went off. I turned myself in and we know the police aren’t always honest and extracted a confession out of me. I lost most of my life [in jail].”
He went through a number of other incidents, equating to nine years in prison before he dedicated himself to his new work.
He said even after a lengthy jail term, he was re-incarcerated before he got focused. “I decided to hustle and make up for lost time. So I came out hustling and I ended up getting locked up again for parole violation. So I did a year. Then I came back out again and this time decided to do the drug game. I got arrested for my first deal. When I went in that time, I decided I’m not fit to be a criminal,” he confessed.
“I said, ‘So what I’m going to do is, I’ma come out and pursue my dream of being an actor.’ I got involved in “Straight Out Of Brooklyn (the classic film by Matty Rich).” I did everything I could to learn about film. After that I branched out and did “Up In Harlem.”
While he still faces many immigration hurdles, he said he intends to remain positive and in control of his fate.
“I’m not gonna let these white folks control my destiny. I’m gonna be like Spike. I’m not gonna work for somebody, so that why I’m gonna put myself in my films.” He also has investors interested in his next film, which he intends to start working on in the near future.
And perhaps some of Eliacin’s ambition has rubbed off on Ice-T as he has expressed interest in moving behind the camera.
“I would love for Ice-T to one day be able to direct. I think I could direct well because I’m an actor, so I know how to bring s**t out of actors. I’ve done music videos. Add the music to it, I got the music,” Ice said. “And the story, I’ve been one of the known rappers to bring ill visuals into music from when I started. Its easy now for people to do it, but a lot of the s**t we were doing, ni**as had no understanding of it.
“When people sit down for Ice-T’s directorial debut, I want to have people feeling it.”
“Up In Harlem” can be found at retail outlets nationwide.
Click here for more information and to view the film’s trailer - http://pauliepaul.com/