Blind filmmaker tastes success with debut feature film

Up for four awards: Vidually-disabled filmmaker Peter Renzullo's debut feature film Anticipation, about a struggling ,musician overcoming his anxiety and making it big eventually.

A visually-impaired music producer has ventured into the difficult terrain of film making, taking the industry by storm.

Legally-blind Perth man Peter Renzullo, who has three per cent left of his central vision, is known for composing the score for former Telethon kid Jordon Prince-Wright‘s feature film The Decadent and Depraved. Eighteen months ago, he made the bold move to produce his own feature film, taking on the responsibility for writing, producing, shooting, editing and composing music for it.

Up for four awards: Visually-disabled filmmaker Peter Renzullo’s debut feature film Anticipation, about a struggling ,musician overcoming his anxiety and making it big eventually.

The result is Anticipation, a feature film about a struggling musician, Lenny (played by Glenn Herbert of Beautiful Cartel) who must overcome his anxiety in order to make it big in a competitive industry. He plays gigs at a hotel to empty chairs while secretly grieving the tragic demise of his younger sister (the amazing Kate Lloyd), whose mind had been ravaged by drug use. For three years, Lenny had put his life on hold to take care of her. Snippets of the past come to the fore during conversations with Kit (Steve Kio), a homeless man living under a railway bridge.

Herbert puts in a sterling performance in his first screen role. In fact, most of the cast are relatively low-key, save for Emilie Lowe, who appeared on the set of These Final Hours as an extra. Electors living in Fremantle might also have noticed a familiar face in the film: that of John Gray, son of Andy Gray from Black Ghost and Liberal Democrats senate candidate at the recent federal election. Renzullo also has a part in the movie as Lenny’s producer, a role which parallels his real-life occupation. Despite her lack of exposure until now, Lloyd still took home the international American Golden Picture Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress‘ in a feature film, a great achievement. Besides this, Anticipation is also up for two other awards and one honourable mention. A great feat given the fact that Renzullo is severely visually handicapped.

While shooting Anticipation, Renzullo had to use a specially modified camera that highlighted what was in focus with a harsh green hue, a contrast he could see. Many scenes were also shot at night as his vision improves in lower light. Several well-known locations associated with nightlife and the music scene were used for filming, including Inglewood’s Civic Hotel. A number of musical acts have also featured in the film and on its soundtrack, including Dilip and the Davs as well as Herbert’s band Beautiful Cartel.

The film resonates with many people. Some of us would have identified with Lenny or Kit at various stages in our lives. We may have made bad decisions that returned to haunt us terribly. Or we were too entrenched in our comfort zones that we did not want to try out a new venture that could uplift us into the next socio-economic class. Seeing the tragic way Lenny’s sister met her premature end after struggling with mental health issues was certainly disturbing, and may have been a factor in Lloyd winning a major award. Not surprisingly, Anticipation has the endorsement of the Brother to Brother Foundation. The organisation is dedicated to suicide prevention.

Renzullo decided to take the plunge into producing his own film after getting insight into the inner workings of post-production after his musical score for The Decadent and Depraved won an award. He was fortunate to work with amazing cast members who, despite having next to no experience with feature films, managed to punch above their weight. However, the logistics took a heavy toll on Renzullo, who slept little during those two years it took for Anticipation to film. Even so, he still has words of encouragement for others who aspire to enter the same industry. “Don’t think. Do. It’s better to make mistakes while you are in the thick of it. Mistakes can be fixed — regret cannot,” he says.

In the meantime, Renzullo is hoping to embark on another big project. For now, he hopes his achievements with Anticipation would inspire people with disabilities to chase their dreams with the aim of making it big like their able-bodied counterparts. The tagline of the film pretty much sums it up. What do you do, if the biggest obstacle in your life, is you?

Renzullo has entered Anticipation in several international film festivals. By doing so, he hopes the film would gain some exposure and attract potential distributors leading to a commercial release. So far, the initial public screening session of Anticipation in Perth has been successful, with some 420 people packed into two cinema halls at Whitford City. Regional screenings in Geraldton and Busselton are slated for October. On top of that, a special session at The Backlot in West Perth supported by the Brother to Brother Foundation is also in the works. Places for the last event are limited though.

That being said, the fans of A Star is Born are likely to fall in love with Anticipation due to the central theme of both films revolving around music. The closing song from Anticipation, called Steady Hands, is hard to shake off. It would be great if Glenn Herbert would release it as a single.