One Jackson Heights filmmaker is keeping a promise and taking it to the big screen.
Producer and Jackson Heights resident Michael Lieber met screenwriter Joseph P. Vasquez in California during the mid-1990s and started to work on a screenplay called “The House That Jack Built,” written by Vasquez.
But before the project was complete, Vasquez, 32, died. Lieber vowed that he would finish the film.
Two years ago, Lieber kept his promise and decided to begin making the film with director Henry Barrial and additional producers Sam Kitt and Hitesh R. Patel.
“It just shows that the most important thing was starting with a good script,” Lieber said. “Unfortunately, the writer died many years ago and he was not able to see the fruition of this film. This is why it took so many years to make, because I wasn’t just going to get it filmed like that.”
Vasquez’s film, which is almost 90 minutes long, follows the life of a young Hispanic man named Jack Maldonado who tries to build a relationship with his family by buying an apartment building and moving them all there. The story then becomes a combination of escalating conflicts with family members and also “turf battles” as Jack deals with competing marijuana dealers.
“When I look back, I’m kind of amazed we were able to achieve this,” he said, referring to the film’s budget, which was less than $150,000.
One third of the movie was filmed in Jackson Heights and the rest was finished in the Bronx.
“The House That Jack Built” has been picked as one of the 127 films showing at the Queens World Film Festival, which began Tuesday. It has also been nominated for Best Narrative Feature in the festival.
“This festival is very different; this is a film lovers’ festival,” Lieber said. “It’s a warm festival. It’s very New York and yet it has an international scope.”
“The House That Jack Built” will be showing at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at P.S. 69, located at 77-02 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights.
“If you want the feel of New York City, Queens is the borough these days,” he said.