Archived Story

Resident co-writes, directs first feature film

Published 5:58pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Big break

As he was assembling informational film packets one day in 2008 to send to prospective sponsors, Battles got a call from a woman in L.A. who wanted to start circulating the script for “The Baytown Disco” among directors and producers there.

Upon her suggestion, Battles and Hood packed their bags and spent the subsequent nine months in L.A. networking and talking to people about their script, which landed a spot on the 2009 Hollywood Black List, an insider industry list comprised of the most popular, unproduced screenplays voted on by executives.

“It was a huge honor, and it really helped us a lot being part of it,” Battles said. “It just gets you read so much more because it comes out right before everyone breaks for Christmas.”

In 2010, Battles and Hood started developing the script for “The Baytown Disco” with producer Robert Teitel of State Street Pictures (“Soul Food,” “Men of Honor”). William Perkins III of Lleju productions agreed to finance and produce it in January 2011.

After a few lulls in the development process, Battles and Hood signed with an agency, met with film financiers 28 days later and had a movie set established within a month right outside of New Orleans, La.

Battles said preparations for filming took five to six months, but he and his crew spent a mere 23 days shooting the entire movie. After that, Battles had six weeks to edit and apply finishing touches to the film before turning it in.

In June 2012, Berry Meyerowitz, president and CEO of Phase 4 Films, announced that the company acquired all North American rights to “The Baytown Outlaws,” now available at Walmart, Redbox, Netflix and video on demand.

The premise of the plot features a woman named Celeste seeking help from three “outlawed, redneck” brothers to recover her godson from her ex-husband, and “what begins as a small rescue mission rises to a Southern battle royale.”

ScreenDaily described Battles’ and Hood’s gritty, Southern-rooted action comedy as “a bold, brassy and bloody grindhouse romp.”

In a New York Times article, Stephen Holden said, “‘The Baytown Outlaws’ avidly subscribes to the grindhouse aesthetic of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.”

Battles is far from finished in the film industry and recently signed with William Morris (WME) as a writer/director.

Battles said he plans to co-write again with Hood, who served as one of the producers of “The Baytown Outlaws” and “is going to be one of the good ones.”

After accomplishing one of his biggest life goals of being able to buy his movie off the shelf in a store, Battles is ready to find his next open door as a credited movie director.

“When I was a little kid, I just wanted to be a Storm Trooper,” Battles said. “Being able to work in the business felt like the culmination of a dream. I’m very, very appreciative of the opportunities I have.”

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