Bronx producer catches The Fever for success
by Jon Minners
To say that Handal Gomez-Abdelrahim is ambitious is an understatement. The Bronx-born director and producer is serious about making a name for himself and has been hard at work on a series of different projects in an attempt to take Hollywood by storm.
The Kingsbridge Avenue native has taken a healthy love for all-things entertainment and after the successful release of one short film, the Latin filmmaker, who runs Born Crazy Productions, is hard at work on a special documentary following the roots of freestyle music, a unique Spanish-language kung-fu flick and a television show that harkens back to the old days of the Gong Show, with a fresh street twist.
“There is just so much I want to do,” said Gomez-Abdelrahim, who has already worked on MTV’s The Shop; NBC’s The Apprentice, FOX Sports and ESPN Espanol, among other projects over the years. “I want to become a full-time producer for comedy and have already applied to NBC and Comedy Central. There is just a lot going on right now. It is an exciting time.”
Just recently, his short film Beliefs was nominated in the Las Vegas film festival. The film is considered a scary, yet inspirational work documenting the war in Iraq with a terrorist contemplating another attack on New York City. Raised by a Colombian mother, the film’s main character has morals and values instilled in him that play a major role in the film, creating a film that Gomez-Abdelrahim says raised a lot of eyebrows, while at the same time broadening viewers’ hearts and giving them the feeling that love can conquer all.
The film’s success opened up a number of doors for the Bronxite who has now tasted success and wants more. His first piece of work is a film called The Fever, chronicling the life of Sal Abbatiello, the owner of the famous club where freestyle music took hold and featured the likes of Nayobe, Gucci Man, Nelson Vargas, The Cover Girls and Grandmaster Flash.
“This was at a time when Latin youth didn’t want to listen to old people Salsa and rap was starting to take hold,” said Gomez-Abdelrahim. “So, it was the Latin version of early rap; an English version of Salsa where they sing about love and caring about someone to a dance beat. It has influenced a number of artists, many of whom will be featured on the documentary.”
Artists like Fat Joe, Tony Touch, Judy Torres, Shannon and TKA will be featured along with Sal Abbatiello to discuss the music and the club that helped make it famous. “We would like to shop it to VH1, BET and A&E, but our main target is VH1, because they have taken a big interest in history music projects,” said the Gomez-Abdelrahim. “There might be a Latin channel that could be interested. There has been interest all around and I expect to have the film completed by next year.”
But right now, Gomez-Abdelrahim has created Ghetto Famous, a series on BronxNet and already into its fourth episode. “It’s inspired by the Gong Show,” he said. “Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and this is their chance to get it. And the beauty of it all is that anyone can take part; from the talented to the not-so-talented. People with less talent are funnier. We remember them more.”
The show features a number of acts from comedy to singing and dancing; all competing for ghetto prizes. “It is the best time you will ever have, hanging out and filming the show,” said Gomez-Abdelrahim. “It’s slapstick comedy at its best so if you think you can rap, let’s see what you got; if you think you are funny, show us. We want regular people who just want to have a good time. I mean; everyone wants to be famous – why not be ghetto famous?”
And fame may just be around the corner for Gomez-Abdelrahim, especially considering another future endeavor that seems unique to mainstream entertainment. Barrio Kung Fu is a future endeavor mixing the Spanish language with the cult favorite kung fu movies of children’s past. “My friend and I, Nelson Vargas, were watching a kung-fu movie and I turned down the volume and started changing the dialogue to Spanish,” he said. “It was funny and we thought, we need to do this. We need to make a film like this. We are definitely going to work on that in the future. Things are looking up and I am really excited about what the future holds.”
To be part of that exciting future, keep an eye out on Born Crazy Productions at www.myspace.com/borncrazyproductions.