CotLu Films, LLC: Bringing Film To Life

by Terry Watson | November 15th, 2014
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(Ricky Cotton and Edwin Lewis) Photo by 7545 Photography

Cotlu Films are a full-service film company that focuses on films that expresses strong messages. Additionally, they strive to provoke awareness and bring attention to issues of which they feel are important such as domestic violence, bullying and juvenile delinquency. They provide high quality HD (high definition) filming for all types of projects. Though mostly a film a motion picture company, they are also available for weddings, live events, and documentaries.

They have worked with some very talented individuals throughout their careers. This includes Cranston Johnson and Jennifer Rusolli. They have also worked with Sheena Adams Crawley, who plays Sharon Jones in “The Return” alongside Gogo Lomo, who is the young Nate. Christopher “Play” Martin is in the role of older Nate. Phillip Burges made a guest appearance as the reverend in the film.

Cotlu Films is comprised of Ricky Cotton and Edwin Lewis. Lewis serves as president/chief executive officer of CotLu Films. Lewis has worked in management, sales and/or sales management for majority of his professional career. As the creative mind behind the company’s start up, he has been writing and creating stories since he was in his early teens. A sharp thinking, proactive professional with a strong focus and creative mind, he is the writer behind the original law/crime drama TV series, “The PO.” He holds a degree in economics from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. and is a strong supporter of the school. He plans to give a percentage of the revenues from his first feature film, “The Return,” to their entrepreneurship program to promote new business creation.

Ricky Cotton serves as vice president, chief operating officer, casting director and music supervisor. He is a native of Scotland County, N.C. and moved to Greensboro in 1992 in search of better opportunities. After years of working various dead end jobs, he says he was blessed to be laid off for the fourth time in 2004. He used that opportunity to return to school and further his education. During this same time, CotLu Films was formed and he earned an associate’s degree in paralegal technologies. His knowledge of the law he says is a major asset when drafting and reviewing contracts. He also loves to work with kids and volunteers at various Guilford County Schools while mentoring troubled youth.

Cotton says what he loves most about film making is making the film come to life. “The process of making a film can sometimes be long. However, it always seems as if the actual filming time goes by quickly,” he says. Lewis enjoys creating the story and the development of the plot. “The misdirection of the audience and the unwinding of the characters as the story approaches the conclusion really intrigues me,” he says. “Watching actors bring my story to life, and seeing life come to what I wrote on paper is all the motivation I need. It is like air being breathed into something that was cold and limp. It becomes real and full of life!”

Collectively, Cotlu has produced several short films. These titles include “Leaving the Game”, written by Lewis, and two films written by Cotton, “Consequences & Repercussions” and “The Word,” Lewis says his first film was “The Return” starring Christopher “Play” Martin from the Hip Hop duo, “Kid & Play,” which happens to be the only feature film that he filmed and the last to be released. There is a showing scheduled on November 17, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Carousel Grand Cinemas on Battleground Avenue in Greensboro, N.C.
Cotton says his biggest inspiration comes from an old proverb developed during slavery ― “each one, teach one”. “Everything we film has a message behind it. I feel it is my duty to teach and help as many people as I can before I leave this earth. Through our films I am able to teach and help others, even when I’m gone,” he says. Lewis also says his career has been impacted mostly by his family. “My wife, Danita, and our children have been behind me and given me that push when I needed it. They have never lost faith in me and what I do, even when we faced adversity,” he says. Lewis also credits his mother, Doretha Lewis for pushing him to fulfill his dreams. “She never saw any of my films before she died,” he explains.

Lewis and Cotton both agree that their chosen careers can be quite challenging. This includes budgets and people saying they can do things that they really were not competent to do, along with dealing with attitudes and creative differences. Lewis says largely and by far is the securing of the capital needed to make films at a quality level that they find acceptable; making films is not cheap and he would advise any filmmaker who is starting out to understand that. “Getting to the point where you can actually earn an income is a long and tedious road of which you must constantly be willing to bend and do whatever it takes to get your film made that does not require you to compromise your integrity,” Lewis explains.

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