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Havre de Grace writer makes silver screen debut

MoviesRentalsAMC (tv network)

Seeing his movie on the big screen is one thing for screenplay writer Rick Fontaine. Having the film, "Exit Strategy," premiere in Baltimore where friends and family can see it along with him is a whole other exciting experience for the Havre de Grace resident.

"I'm enthused," Fontaine, a Perryville High School graduate, said Monday before the sold-out premiere at Landmark Theatre in Baltimore Tuesday and another screening at AMC Loews White Marsh Thursday.

The writer and actor said he does not release his age for fear of being typecast, but said he is in his late 20s to early 30s.

Although the movie had been released on the West Coast earlier in the year, it's been slowly making its way down the East Coast — including a premiere in Cherry Hill, N.J., in February and now hitting the theaters in Baltimore.

Fontaine co-wrote "Exit Strategy" with Kimelia Weathers, a friend and one of the film's stars, and developed the original screenplay.

"The story is about a guy breaking up with a girl and she's a crazy girlfriend," he explained about the movie's premise. He also insisted that the story "came out of nowhere" and isn't based on a personal experience.

"I just watched friends with crazy girlfriends and thought it would be funny if a guy was trying to find all these ways to break up with her," Fontaine said.

Along with Weathers, the movie stars Jameel Saleem, who plays the unsuspecting boyfriend, James, Quincy "Q Deezy" Harris, Noelle Balfour, Nick Sinise, radio personality Big Boy and Kevin Hart.

Originally, Fontaine wrote the script as a comedy sketch, which was turned into a webisode before becoming a screenplay.

Writing, in any form, has been an important factor throughout his life.

Fontaine, who attended Bakerfield Elementary in Aberdeen, said his fourth grade teacher, Ms. Eisner (he couldn't remember her first name), was "so influential in my growth."

He recalled an assignment he had to complete on state histories.

Fontaine, having lived in New York and Connecticut before Harford County, chose New York and wrote a rap on its history at his teacher's encouragement.

"She welcomed me in and let me be creative," he said.

That creativity led Fontaine to pursue his dream in Los Angeles, where he lived for two years and met Weathers and Saleem, who are also from Maryland.

When he writes, Fontaine keeps in mind that he is writing for all cultures and all races and doesn't gear it toward just one demographic.

"In Perryville, I learned to really accept different cultures," he said. Being bi-racial — Hispanic and African-American — Fontaine said he had friends of all races, as well, and those differences weren't always accepted in the small town.

"There are a lot of things that shield us from each other," Fontaine said about race and prejudice. "But we all have the same emotions."

Fontaine is shopping another comedy script that takes place in a rental car business, which he describes as "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" meets "The Office."

For the writer, what has been most important about this experience, however, is that he can show old classmates, neighbors and the places where he grew up in Harford County that if you dream big, you can be big.

"I want to bring that home and show everyone in Aberdeen, Havre de Grace and Perryville that look, I grew up in the same place as you guys," he said. "I stick with my dream and now it's on the big screen. That's important to me."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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