DEARBORN — As a former coffee shop owner with a degree in Business and Finance from the University of Michigan-Dearbron, it's safe to say that Lebanese American Lance “Khalid” Kawas' path to success in the movie business was anything but a straight one.
But Kawas, a movie buff who grew up in the west African country of Sierra Leone and attended high school in England, always knew he had the talent for writing and making movies.
Now, after wrapping up filming on his upcoming movie “Restitution” last week in Detroit, the 40-year-old director and Dearborn native has come full circle and hopes that his new project will continue the positive momentum of the movie industry in Detroit.
The movie is the fourth feature film that Kawas has directed and it stars well-known actors such as Tom Arnold (Featured in the movie “True Lies” and on the popular “Roseanne” TV show) , Mina Suvari (“American Beauty and “American Pie”), C. Thomas Howell (“The Outsiders”) along with other well-known professionals and local actors cast in minor roles and as extras.
Kawas describes the movie as an action/romance/comedy and he plans to head to Los Angeles soon for post-production on sound, design, and music after seven weeks of editing in Farmington Hills.
“We shot the whole movie in Detroit, and it's going to be a cool independent film with nice twist and a nice cast.” Kawas said of the project.
When Kawas talks excitedly about the film, it's hard not to believe in him. After all, Kawas knows his way around a script or two, having written 30 screenplays while winning 19 national awards over the course of 8 years.
Many of those screenplays haven't been turned into movies yet, but Kawas has sold some of them and hopes to see more of them turned into movies.
Kawas is also looking forward to the release of another of his movies, “Street Boss,” at various Best Buy locations on July 6th. The movie is a mafia story of how the FBI took down notorious crime boss Tony Jack.
The movie won awards for Best Feature Film at the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival and Best Feature Film at the ThrillSpy International Film Festival in Washington, D.C. as well.
Kawas is hopeful that “Restitution” will be just as well-received and become successful enough garner nationwide distribution at American theaters.
“We'll see what the audience feels at the premiere in Detroit down the road and from there it will probably get a limited theatrical start and we'll see how the audience reacts,” Kawas said.
Kawas said that the professionalism and work ethic of the cast was great on the movie and he feels lucky to be able to continue to live his dream of being a director.
“I've never had any formal film training, but I've made lots of short movies, written scripts and books, so I basically just taught myself,” Kawas said.
“I'm happy to be directing and I'll continue to do it because that's where my heart is.”
For more information on Kawas' projects, visit thestreetbossmovie.com, thedeportedmovie.com, or Bierleinentertainment.com.