Zombies are in — very in. So “Velvet Road,” a feature film project that follows a zombie disease quietly taking over a small, racially divided community in Florida in the summer of 1964, is one creation that should get some nibbles.
In 2011, filmmakers Jon Shepard and Gustavo Cooper teamed up to create a short film of the same name.
“We have been working on this concept for many years now,” Cooper said. “I came up with the story and Jon assembled a team. We found some visionary investors, pulled a lot of favors and managed to make a 12-minute film.”
The short "Velvet Road" has been screened at more than two dozen festivals around the world.
“We have been very excited about the response everyone has had for the film, which was conceived, written, filmed and first screened right here in Jacksonville and North Florida,” Cooper said.
“Florida has a bloody history of Klan violence that rivals Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” Cooper said. “We took real stories of racial violence from Florida’s past to create a lyrical narrative that takes very realistic characters from the period and pits them against a disease none of them understand.”
Aside from Cooper (writer/director) and Shepard (producer), “Velvet Road” features the work of Brian Jerin (composer/producer) and Jon Bosworth (writer).
“We need a lot of money and favors to make this film, but we would also like this community to own part of it,” Cooper said. “This is a Jacksonville story in so many ways. We want Jacksonville to help us tell it.”
Velvet Road (2012) from L. Gustavo Cooper on Vimeo.
According to a study by the National Coffee Association, more than 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee and 58 percent reported drinking coffee daily in 2012. The point of these factoids? People loooooooove coffee. Enter Mitchell Sheffield’s invention: Fridge Barista Cold Brewed Coffee Maker.
“Cold-brewed coffee has been around for a while. It gained popularity in the 1960s,” Sheffield said. “Cold-brewed coffee is very different than hot-brewed coffee that has been placed in the refrigerator. Hot brewing releases more fats and oils from the beans that cold brewing just doesn’t.”
Sheffield actually began his Fridge Barista journey before One Spark was even announced.
“Even while working on a shoestring and start-up budget, Fridge Barista has strived to have all of our FDA-safe recyclable plastic components be made and assembled in the U.S.A.,” Sheffield said.
The Fridge Barista apparatus can be used much like an automatic drip coffeemaker is used for hot-brewed coffee. It's made of recyclable plastic, it's dishwasher safe and has a self-contained filter — and includes iced coffee recipes.
Over the past decade, drinking a cup of joe served over ice has become much more acceptable. Starbucks does it, Dunkin Donuts offers it and most mom-and-pop shops know their customers demand it. But what about patrons who want to make iced coffee at home? Sheffield saw a niche and decided to fill it.
“When One Spark’s timeline matched up with Fridge Barista's timeline, it became a great place to officially launch and seek capital investment to increase sales and gross profits while maximizing contribution margins via economies of scale.”