Tobbot Films is a small film company dedicated to sharing stories about the human spirit. Founder J.R Tobbot is on a mission ” to tell stories, whatever story, and give our audience a chance to think, to feel and to explore.” His films explore issues like sexual abuse and human trafficking, and he’s willing to break barriers to get these stories told. We asked Tobbot to tell us his story, and this was his response:
“Hey, yeah, so I was a little taken aback when Danielle told me she was interested in what we are looking to do with Tobbot Films, LLC. I find it fascinating some of the attention we’ve been receiving.”
Here’s his story:
Tobbot is a small film company in Wilmington, NC I started when my contact ran out with a theatre company in Michigan. I had friends pulling me to LA and to New York…At the time, the film industry was booming in Wilmington (Which is my hometown) and I wanted to take the scripts I had written and make the movies with my friends in Wilmington. What happened next was not expected. Governor Pat McCrory and the State Assembly of North Carolina did away with the film incentive program and Wilmington’s film business dried up.
Now, there have been rumors that Governor McCrory has a job with the Georgia Film Commission when his time in Raleigh is up. Now I don’t know if that is true or not, but if it is, sure does seem a little dirty. I do know he gets a lot of money from the Cathay family (Chick-fil-a) who was also instrumental in getting Pinewood Studios to Atlanta, but who really knows right?
(Most of the film business in North Carolina went to Atlanta with the lost of the incentive programs to the tune of 6 billions dollars in 2015).
However, I’ve always been one to face adversity with a zest. I’ve always been one that likes to be told “You can’t’”…Kinda makes me work a little harder. When I started thinking about what kind of mission I wanted for Tobbot, I realized, most of the mainstream movies are big budget, CGI blockbusters that I couldn’t afford and frankly, they don’t interest me very much…Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been on pins and needles waiting for Star Trek Beyond…I’m a nut for the stories of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
Yet, with Tobbot, I wanted to tell stories about the human spirit. I think somewhere along the line, we’ve lost that story…We don’t really see the person next to us anymore. I feel that society moves to0 fast and the only things truly popular only last for a split second. We don’t take the time to enjoy the true beauty of a rainstorm, we don’t see the mockery of age old traditions and we don’t concern ourselves with other human beings suffering.
The human spirit consists of a lot of things. Some pretty, some not so pretty. However, as human beings, we need to experience it all. My mother is a very sick person at this stage in her life. She has always been argumentative, but in her latter years, she has been diagnosed with a number of ailments. Because of this, she is often confused and fears going outside. Her fear comes from not living her life. This is what we have fallen into as a society. We’re trapped. In a lot of cases, we think sending a check or ignoring issues, they will go away.
That’s not how it happens. I believe we can do better. I know we’re supposed to look out for ourselves, but if we have no compassion for other beings, Human or Animal, then we are only living part of our lives. That might be fine for some….Not me.
Like any town, Wilmington has it’s share of problems. Being a rape survivor at the age of 4, I was surprised to find out that a rape case takes about two years to get to court, if it ever does. I was also shocked to find, of the convicted marijuana offenses in North Carolina, 53% serve jail time. With rape, the number of convicted rapist going to jail is staggering….2%. I didn’t miss a number. That’s it.
When I started on Abraham’s Conflict, I had no idea who Daisy Coleman was. Once my best mate read it, he asked me if I knew who she was. I immediately did some research on her. The story is amazingly similar. Then I did some research here at home on young women who had the same thing happen to them. I was floored. The number of rape cases in my hometown is mind blowing….Maybe to just me…Maybe I’ve just been naïve.
Abraham’s Conflict, starring the incredible Jon Stafford has been in the works for nearly 4 years now. Of course because of the subject matter, investors won’t go near it…But everyone involved, including 7 survivors will continue until we tell this story…One of the darker sides of the human spirit. A defense lawyer with morals….Not an everyday piece. I’ve been fortunate to have Coastal Horizons help me along the way. They are the local Rape Crisis Center. My story is of course fiction, but they have helped a great deal. I make sure I throw these horrific numbers in people’s faces…Just got to make it…And we will.
Danielle originally contacted me about my man, Rico Sparsa, The Caesar of 6th St. I’ve always been fascinated with mobsters. I even think a number of them have made a difference for the good. In case you didn’t know, Franklin Delano Roosevelt went to Charles “Lucky” Luciano to help with the war effort. Anywho, with Wilmington being a port city, (third largest port on the east coast) we have a major problem…Human trafficking.
This one has me stumped. I’m not sure why this hasn’t been more scrutinized. You see, it’s not Wilmington’s dirty little secret. It’s like everyone knows it and nothing is done. Frankly, I don’t know what’s worse, that it happens or that it gets ignored. As we speak right now, a young woman is being shipped off to a life of slavery. I don’t know, while writing Caesar if I unconsciously had Rico go after the Traffickers since no one else would. He’s a brutal man, but has a noble sense of morals…I guess the anti-hero, fully blown. Maybe it’s proof even bad guys have something in them. You just have to trigger it.
My work is filmmaking, but my passion is storytelling. There is some kid right now that’s going to bed hungry here in Wilmington, a very caring and giving small city. There’s a politician whom we have given our trust and yet is having an affair with a woman and will get her pregnant and yet we will still believe in him, not concerning ourselves with his lack of concern for kids watching this and learning it’s ok to hurt others. There are so many stories here in the Port City.
The problem is, because of the old blue bloods, no one will take these stories on. That’s about to change. Although we didn’t meet out goal with our crowd sourcing campaign, we’re still moving forward with Caesar. It’s time someone in Wilmington explore the human spirit and tell those stories. I have Dramas and Thillers. I even have two Rom/Coms. So, there are some rainbows and puppy dogs.
Somewhere, we stopped looking at one another as human beings. It seems we look at each other and ask, what can that person do for me. I want to spend the rest of my life doing for others. If one woman is freed from a trafficker, if one person comes forward from an abuser or if one person decides maybe there is something in that person that says I love you…If it happens once, then that’s the reaction we want. I want people to find love in their hearts again. I want to make people laugh and cry but most importantly, I want them to think, not only about the other person, but also how am I TREATING that person.
We’ve spent long enough, as a society, being the problem…Let’s find ourselves again…Let do things the way our messiah or teacher or sage taught us . Let’s do things the “right” way…Let’s do things the Tobbot way…Let’s do things the HUMAN way. Thanks for letting me hang with you a bit…I hope I get to hug, shake hands or kiss everyone of you…Namaste!
Written By: J.R. Tobbot, a filmmaker who is out to make the world a better place
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