Although "Gimme The Loot," the first feature film by writer-director Adam Leon, is set in New York City, in many ways, it was born in Westchester County.
Leon, 31, programmed events at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville from 2009 to May 2011.
"The center is committed to storytelling and the collaborative art of film, which I adore as a filmmaker," said Leon, whose first short, "Killer," played at more than 20 film festivals worldwide.
While working in Pleasantville, Leon came up with an idea for a feature length film and started writing. "The staff knew I was working on my own project," he said. "They were incredibly supportive of it."
Three years later, the script Leon penned became "Gimme the Loot," a low-budget narrative feature about the lives of teenage graffiti artists from the Bronx, set for a New York City release March 22.
"I wanted to make a movie about kids who have vivid, challenging lives, but who are not necessarily miserable," Leon said. "There are no guns in this movie. Audiences respond to what ends up being a universal, positive and fun story."
"Gimme the Loot" coasted through the festival circuit last year: It won best feature at South by Southwest and was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. At the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards Feb. 23, "Gimme the Loot" won the "Someone To Watch Award" and was nominated for best first feature.
Leon's film also received the attention of Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, who hosts the "Rarely Seen Cinema" monthly series at the Jacob Burns Film Center and sits on the theater's board of directors. Demme, a Nyack resident, saw "Gimme the Loot" before its SXSW premiere and immediately signed on as a producer. Leon said he considers his support "a deep, deep honor."
"We're going to have fun," Leon said of the event. "I used to be the person bringing events to the stage. Now I get to go up there. I'm coming home."
IF YOU GO
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7
Info: Jacob Burns Film Center, 364 Manville Rd., Pleasantville; 914-773-7663; www.burnsfilmcenter.org; $10 members, $15 nonmembers