Billy Reimert writes a film that he hopes will change lives
Billy Reimert had never written a screenplay before. He’d never had plans to make a movie or be a producer. But in October 2017, he woke up one day and decided on his way to work that he wanted to make a movie about Allentown.
Ten days later he had the film written out and soon after, taught himself how to write a screenplay and then did that. Today, he’s hoping to raise money through an IndieGoGo campaign to take his idea for a movie and turn it into a reality.
The film, titled A Similar Path, focuses on the relationship between a substance abuse counselor and a 21-year-old client who reminds him of himself at that age. While the client has clear potential, the street life that surrounds him threatens his future. The question is, can the counselor set him on the right path before it’s too late?
For Reimert, the subject matter hits close home in a variety of ways. For 16 years he’s worked as a behavioral specialist for the Allentown School District. He also grew up in the heart of Allentown and was surrounded by some of the challenges and threats faced by the young character in the film.
“I’ve definitely had experience with street life,” Reimert says. “I grew up in a part of town where all of my friends at a certain age were involved with illegal activities. My brother had issues. My best friend got locked up for 21 years. I’ve seen all of this first hand. Luckily, I knew the path I wanted to take and didn’t follow in their footsteps.”
Reimert’s greatest goal for the film is that it will help show others in similar situations that they have a future and it can be whatever they want to make of it.
“There are a lot of issues in the movie that some of these kids are dealing with,” he says. “You want them to see that there is a way out. The movie conveys that it’s possible. They can see themselves in that situation and think, ‘I’m in the street life, but I have talent. If I can focus on my talents and separate myself from the street life, maybe I can do something successful and get out of that.’ If you can build an empire selling drugs, you can build a business.”
Growing up, Reimert says he witnessed plenty of things that no one should have to witness, especially at a young age. He hopes the reality of the movie will help enlighten some of the people who haven’t had those experiences.
“A lot of people haven’t really been affected by it (street life),” he says. “There’s a whole population that hasn’t. I want to open their eyes and let them see that there are kids with talent and they’re stuck in that situation.”
The goal for the IndieGoGo campaign is $50,000 that Reimert hopes will pay for pre and post production, equipment rental, actors, casting, film festival entries, legal fees and more.
“It gets overwhelming at times,” he says. “But it’s something I’m determined to do. I have too many supporters in my corner not to make it happen. I’m definitely determined.”
Reimert showed that determination months ago. In February he started selling copies of the screenplay as a way to raise awareness and funds for the production of the film.
“I was raising money myself, working three jobs, with a family, and people were saying, ‘I want a copy,’” he says. “Once other people saw the screenplay, they started hitting me up.”
In his latest May fundraiser, despite the rain, he had about 100 people turn out for the event.
“If you grind and grind and grind for something, when the success comes, it makes it so much better,” he says. “So much more grateful.”
Reimert is grinding and hoping that the film will come to full fruition with the support of believers and donors. He also hopes people will give it a chance.
“I don’t want it to be generalized as a street film,” he says. “People think street movies and they think of nothing but selling drugs and shooting people. That’s not what’s going on. These characters… they want to do better. There is a positive message. When I do get it made, I can talk to schools in the city about this. If I can help one life – it’s a success. And if you can help one, you can help multiple.”