Local filmmaker seeks ‘second take’ at industry

Director Dror Sorof. Dan Watson/The Signal
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When you’re filming a movie and a scene doesn’t go the way you envisioned, you call for a “do-over.”

With a second “take,” you hope your vision will materialize the next go.

That’s what director Dror Soref is doing with his filmmaking career after it was derailed three years ago with his arrest on suspicion of securities fraud — only to see the whole case against him tossed out.

The year 2019 is the beginning of Soref’s big do over, his “take two” as it were.

In March 2017, criminal case against Soref, who was accused of bilking more than $21 million from people investing in the 2009 movie “Not Forgotten,” was dismissed.

He and Michelle Seward, of Valencia, 44, were each charged with 56 counts of securities fraud, 15 counts of sale of unregistered securities and one count of device, scheme or artifice to defraud a securities transaction, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Seward also saw the case against her dismissed in July 2017.

The pair was arrested in fall 2015 on allegations they bilked several people in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

For Soref, who directed the film “Not Forgotten” and who has paid his dues working on  projects such as a Weird Al Yankovic music video in 1985, it was not the way he envisioned his career unfolding.

Do over

His current project is his second chance.

It’s a film in its infancy with the working title “The True North Diary,” exploring a classic theme of choices made and learning from mistakes.

The film, he said, has a bearing on his own life story, having emerged from the “hell” of being incarcerated at the Pitchess Detention Center which he jokingly refers to now as “the hotel.”

“When I was in the hotel as I call it — you know what I mean, right? I made  a decision, quoting a line from (the movie) Patton, that I should be “allowed to fulfill my destiny.”

Soref’s destiny, he said, is “to do projects that are significant. Significant to my heart, my soul and what matters to me.”

“The True North Diary,” adapted the classic Jane Austen novel “Pride And Prejudice,” is about romance and one woman’s growth through self-realization.

It’s a family movie, Soref said, but obviously, “a very strong romance at its core.

“You take what made the original material special and you keep it,” Soref said. “But, then, you dress it and add a dimension to it. The project is a trilogy,” he said.

“What we did was take the core story and updated it to today and made it here in America where the father is American and the mother is Chinese.

The father met the mother while he was in China, serving with the Peace Corps, fell in love and came to America. They set up a family on an island on the coast of North Carolina, called LoveLand Island.

“In our story, they have four daughters unlike five in the original story,” he said.

The first of three is tentatively called, “Loveland Island”; No. 2, “Rise”; and the third, “From Now On.”

Chinese culture

There is an element in this story non-existent in the original, which is the whole Chinese cultural element, incorporating within it, he said, a spiritual element.

Soref who is the first to admit the Chinese cultural element is “very timely” is the first to point out that he came up with the idea before the success and acclaim of “Crazy, Rich Asians.”

“In our story, of the four daughters, three are triplets,” he said. “And we plan to utilize some of the cast of ‘Crazy, Rich Asians,’” he said. “Our theme is a family movie but it is, obviously, a very strong romance at its core.”

Soref plans on using well-placed cliffhangers at the close of each of the trilogy’s first two installments

“The Chinese mother at the start of our story is missing due to an accident at sea,” he explained with an excited voice. “Her body never found, presumed dead.”

The first film of the trilogy takes place a year after the accident.

“With the mother’s disappearance we have memories of ‘family nights.’”

Then, in trying to find the mother or find information about her, the searching family members find China and deeper appreciation of Chinese culture, he said.

The mother is the figure by which each of the daughters sets their moral compass. She is, as Soref explained, the true north of the family.

“She is the spiritual leader of the family, drawing a parallel to his own family lines.

“If your mother is Jewish, you’re Jewish,” said Soref, reflecting on his Jewish upbringing.  “The mother is the one that instills the culture in the next generation.

“So in this story, she is the spiritual leader,” he said.

The triplets, defined as the skeptics, develop with a spiritual maturity.

The True North Diary

The way Austin’s other classic novel, “Emma,” was adapted into the screenplay for the movie 1995 “Clueless,” is the way Soref sees this film emerging from an adaptation of “Pride And Prejudice,” which he hopes will be “very contemporary, very cool and fun.”

At the moment, he’s working on the script but envisions much more that exists solely on paper at this point.

“We are aiming at the Chinese market itself and if we can get a co-production deal with China I think it will be unbelievable,” he said. “We are open to opportunities.”.

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