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For Filmmaker, Connecticut River Valley's Stars are Brighter Than Tinseltown's

Connecticut Magazine chose film producer, artist, entrepreneur and mentor David Gere as among its 2014 class of "40 Under 40" — those who've made a mark on their communities as young leaders.

For Filmmaker, Connecticut River Valley's Stars are Brighter Than Tinseltown's
David Gere is no stranger to Hollywood.

This film producer, 38, has acted in dozens of movies, documentaries and even music videos but prefers to call the Middletown area home over the glitzy Los Angeles.

That's partly the reason why Connecticut Magazine chose this Connecticut-based film producer, artist, entrepreneur and mentor as among its 2014 class of "40 Under 40," a list of individuals who've made a mark on their communities as young leaders.

A Cromwell resident, Gere says he's humbled to be chosen for his choice to stay in the Nutmeg State, bringing his ideas to the big screen.

"Many share the sentiment that one must travel to the big cities to have a career in the arts," Gere says. "I hope that my path and the scope of my work can prove differently."

And he's willing to pass what's he's learned in his relatively short film career on to the next generation. "I take the responsibility of sharing my journey with young people that are looking to begin similar careers very seriously," Gere says.

"I spend a lot of time mentoring others and including motivated people who just simply need a small break to get started in my projects and businesses."

Many may have seen his paintings and photography on the walls of the nightclub, the Shadow Room, that Gere co-owned on Main Street for many years, bringing in big stars in music and film like "Goodfellas" inspiration the late Henry Hill, a longtime personal friend, and even R&B star Drake for a post-concert after-party.

When Gere talks about Hill, especially their last time together, it's with a tenderness and understanding that reveals how more more there was to the pop culture legend — he was a dear friend and mentor.

"I am inspired by vision, clarity and outreach," Gere says. "I love checking out street art or raw and expressive art shows that highlight the singular message of the artist. It is impactful and resonates often times throughout an entire city.

"On a different scale, premiering a film to an audience, and seeing how it reaches others and then having an opportunity to answer their questions and often help a person take a step that has a similar passion or goal is very inspiring to me. I am inspired by the collective scope that the arts can have on individuals, groups and communities."

Another friend of Gere's is "Wild Bill" Ziegler, longtime proprietor of the Newfield Street nostalgia shop and soon-to-open retro fun house that local artists and carpenters lovingly built by hand over many long months.

He is now working on a project with Ziegler and Joe McCarthy called the "Influence Group," an artist's collective with a business-minded production goal."

Very soon, Middletown will be the location for a related event that will be open to all area artists.

In its February issue, Connecticut Magazine called Gere a member of "Generation Next" and he's got many plans for the near future that will enable him to live up to the name.

"I'd love to strengthen the business connection here in Connecticut to the arts, and create programs and avenues for young people to be better tracked into careers," he says. "I will also continue to anchor productions here as a movie producer."

Gere's feature films, "Sensory Perception" and "Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear," were both partially shot in Middletown, and he plans on bringing another production to the city within a few years. The landscape is fantastic for film, and so is the community in terms of support."

Also on the agenda is a feature-length film, "Pinwheel," which will be shot entirely on a small farm area in Middletown in March. A larger film, "Army of the Damned," is in world-wide video on-demand distribution and the theatrical premiere is Jan. 30. Gere also just opened a performance space in Meriden on Colony Street called Reserve.

This Cromwell High School graduate says he's grateful to all those who have helped him and works every day to return the favor.

"I am thankful to have lived my dream many times over, and to guide others with theirs is a key part of who I am now, so that is exactly what I will be doing in five years, in one form or another."

And perhaps he'll be following in the footsteps of other leaders, like President Ronald Reagan and California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, who've easily moved from Hollywood to the political stage.

"You might even see me run for office one day," Gere says.

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