By Dave Montalbano
After retiring from the NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneer Superbowl Champion Simeon Rice attended a New York film school to prepare to become a filmmaker.
After directing his first short subject, When I was King, Simeon poured his energies into writing Unsullied, a gritty thriller that follows Reagan Farrow (Murray Gray), a track star, who is kidnapped by a pair of sociopaths after her car breaks down on a deserted road.
Being a student of Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Quentin Tarantino, Rice’s latest film feels like a cross between The Most Dangerous Game, Apocalypto and Deliverance.
“Seeing Deliverance, I was on edge. Time is standing on its own high sense of tension and anxiety. With film, once you see an image, you cannot un-see it!” said Rice.
Deliverance shares the same rural landscape as Unsullied.
Rice and his crew spent more time scouting rural locations near Tampa Bay than the actual production of the film, which was shot in 23 days last autumn. Simeon has high praise for his production crew and he acknowledges the contributions of his leading actors.
“Murray Gray is a deep thinker and is wise beyond her years.
Rusty Joiner, who plays Noah Evans, is the consummate Southern gentleman, often holding the door for a lady. On screen, he entered another dimension and created Satan personified, the kind of church boy you do not trust,” he explained.
Given that he chose to film Unsullied in Florida and had a good experience with the community, perhaps he can become an advocate for the Florida film industry; he defiantly has a streak of independence about him.
But Rice did not come from Florida originally. He grew up in the South Side of Chicago in the worst part of town.
Of his youth, he said, “Being a kid on the street with gang violence, you have to think. You become a straight shooter. It prepared me to make quick decisions on the set.”
Rice has already completed another script titled Full Tilt, a tense drama about backroom poker.
Although he has delved now into film, he still thinks about his previous career.
When asked if he misses football, he said, “Yes! Maybe not a preseason game, but I miss the game itself. It is something that is hotwired in me.”
The film will be shown at selected locations on August 28. To find out more about the film and where film is shown, visit http://unsulliedthefilm.com.