An Astoria business owner used his establishment in a recent film that he also acted in and produced.
John Solo is an owner of the Grand Café. He said that he and a friend, Justin Foran, had been meaning to work on a project together for a while. Once the details of President Barack Obama’s Inauguration were confirmed, that two “knew what an amazing event” it would be and decided to build a story around it.
The result was the short film “HOPE,” which focuses on a young boy who, in an effort to find hope, runs away from his home to attend the Inauguration. While Solo produced and acted in “HOPE,” Foran wrote, produced and directed it.
As production on the film began, scenes were shot in the Grand Café and surrounding parts of Astoria.
“Astoria’s such an interesting place to shoot,” Solo said.
They also actually attended the Inauguration to do more filming. Solo said that it was very exciting to be there, although he said he didn’t know what he would have done had it not been for the film.
“It was interesting because we were there and obviously enjoyed being there for the moment, but we also had a job to do,” he said. “It was the best of both worlds.”
“HOPE” is now being screened as part of BET Network’s Urban Film Festival, which runs through September 27. For information on the film festival, visit www.urbanworld.com.
“It’s just a sweet movie,” Solo said. “It’s a heartwarming … movie.”
In December, Solo will start shooting for the feature film “Sex Magic.” He is starring in it and is one of the producers. He described it as a comedy that is a “little bit bizarre.”
While studying political science at NYU, Solo said the idea of working as an actor was always lurking near him, and that it was something he wanted to do for a while. He said he fell into the hands of good teachers and, a couple of years ago, was able to get his first professional job.
Solo and his partners opened up Grand Café a little more than four years ago. Although Solo was studying acting at the time and had fallen in love with it, he said that he knew he still needed something to bring in income.
“I’m very lucky to have wonderful partners,” Solo said. “They’re extremely supportive of everything I do as an actor.”
Solo said he plans on continuing with acting. However, since getting a taste of the production side of things, he also wants to do more with that, and hopes to someday write and direct as well.
Solo’s dream job is to star in a movie directed by Woody Allen.
For more information on “HOPE,” visit www.hope-themovie.com.