Movie made in Grand Rapids honors man killed in 2008

Grand Rapids

The set of the movie “Leo” by filmmaker Marcel Gamble. (Feb. 18, 2021)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Violence on the streets of Grand Rapids is fueling filmmaker Marcel Gamble. 

“That’s really what my goal is,” Gamble said. “Not to go to Hollywood but bring Hollywood to Grand Rapids.”

Filming for the Grand Rapids native’s second feature-length film, “Leo,” is underway. The movie is being shot at several locations in the city. 

“We all make some choices in life and some of those come back to haunt us,” Gamble said. “That’s what the main character in this film is dealing with.”  

Gamble, who wrote and co-produced the movie, says it was inspired by family friend Chad McElwee. 

“(I was) so close (to McElwee) that when I was with him, my parents gave him the right to discipline me if he needed to,” Gamble said. “Back in the day discipline.”

McElwee was shot in his truck in May 2008. He died on the way to the hospital. 

“He was one of those guys that was for the community and looked out for others,” Gamble said. “Just tragic.”

Experiences like McElwee’s and other murders in Grand Rapids are motivational factors for Gamble. His goal is to make it big in the movie industry.

“I look at it as me accomplishing my goals in some way is making up for them not being here to accomplish theirs,” Gamble said.

The set of the movie “Leo” by filmmaker Marcel Gamble. (Feb. 18, 2021)

Well-known actors Omar Gooding and Marc John Jeffries are in the movie. Jeffries has appeared in films such as 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” and “Notorious,” a movie about legendary rapper Biggie Smalls.  

“Everybody that becomes an A-lister starts somewhere,” Jeffries said. “Just to be a part of the early process for people that have talent, people that have drive and determination, it’s cool.”

Shooting for the movie will wrap up in March. Talks are ongoing with a couple of distribution companies about releasing it.

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