Pitoc Tricks with Griffith on 'Canvas'

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The Indie Film Icon reunites with award-winning filmmaker for a Brooklyn Opus.

Indie Film Icon J.P. Pitoc (Trick, Six Feet Under, Species 3) has attached himself to play the lead in Chuck Griffith's second feature film, "Shifting the Canvas". Pitoc will play Leo, a fictional down-and-out painter in Brooklyn who falls in love with another man and gets caught up in Faustian deal with a Williamsburg kingpin.

"Canvas" will be a reprisal for Pitoc to play a gay role, but Director Chuck Griffith, 31, cautions the Perez Hiltons of the world to not get out the white Photoshop-chalk just yet, "I've worked with J.P. in a 'straight' role in 'Thank You, Good Night' and I assure you he's quite the lothario with the women, but he's so versatile as an actor. We're excited to have him on-board. We want to elevate the genre of gay-themed films to an artful level. I personally cannot wait to hear him say these words [in the script]." J.P. Pitoc also played in a recurring role opposite Lauren Ambrose in HBO's hit series, "Six Feet Under".

In 2000, Pitoc was in the uber-successful gay-themed film, "Trick". He played opposite Christian Campbell and Tori Spelling. The film was released by Fine Line Features, a Time Warner Company, and had global theatrical distribution.

"In a lot of ways, 'Trick' ushered a type of film for the gay community that wasn't laden with drugs and lamentations of diseases. I think that's important. 'Shifting the Canvas' is a film that speaks universally to all people with a sort of soul that transcends the gay identity," says Griffith who worked on the script for nearly five years.

With Producer Robert Zimmer, Griffith is determined to create a very artistic and entertaining endeavor. Griffith's website, chuckgriffith.com, suggests the palette for "Canvas" will be inspired by paintings of Ed Hopper and films from Peter Greenaway and Jean-Luc Godard. This will be the second production that Griffith and Zimmer will be working together on. Their first feature was "Thank You, Good Night" in 2001, which went on to win accolades at several film festivals in 2002.

"Too many gay-themed films seek to add a drag queen, whiny characters, shoddy direction, and lots of inside jokes. This film ['Shifting the Canvas'] will hardly be paint-by-numbers," Griffith affirmed.

Roaring Leo Productions, who released TYGN on DVD and OnDemand last year with the help of Customfilx and Amazon.com, will be combining forces with Zimmer's production shingle, Deeper Magic Communications, to produce the project. The team is currently in talks with several distributors. Principle photography is set for this September. It will be shot in parts of the same Williamsburg/Brooklyn neighborhood where Martin Scorsese shot "The Departed".

"Thank You, Good Night" is a feature film available on DVD. The all-star cast includes Christian Campbell (Trick, Refer Madness), J.P. Pitoc (Trick, Six Feet Under), Nicole Eggert (Baywatch, Blown Away), Golden Globe Winner Sally Kirkland (Anna, JFK), and Mark Hamill (Star Wars).

Chuck Griffith is now writing a claustrophobic New York tale called "Crowded Spaces", which he hopes will be his next feature after "Canvas". He resides in New York City.

J.P. Pitoc (John-Paul) is represented by Don Buchwald and Associates. He resides in Los Angeles.

Robert Zimmer, Jr. is an award winning writer and producer who has completed production for the Asian-American dramatic feature, "Half-Life". "Shifting the Canvas" will be his third independent feature film to serve as producer. His production company is Deeper Magic Communications.

Filmmaker Louis Peterson will serve as an executive producer. He directed "In the Blood", a gay-themed thriller that will premiere soon on Viacom's gay and lesbian cable network, LOGO.

Actor and Producer Eddie Singletary will serve as an associate producer to "Canvas". He served as a associate producer for the indie feature, "Palo Alto" starring Ben Savage. "Palo Alto" is premiering at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Roaring Leo Productions, Inc. is a production and distribution company of fine cinema based in New York City.

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Emily Rothchild
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