A couple is out late at night when a pair of masked gunmen appear and demand money. When the couple refuses, one of the men shoots them dead.
Later, the gunman finds out the South Philly Italian mob is after him for the murder: he has to outsmart them to escape with his life.
This is the synopsis for Dave Patten’s first film “Backfire,” which was entirely filmed in Philadelphia and will premiere at The Ritz East Theater in Old City on Oct. 5.
Patten, a 2010 film and media arts alumnus, said he wanted to make an entertaining film with the city as its backdrop.
“It’s a crime drama, so it has a thriller-y aspect to it,” Patten said. “It’s not going to win any Academy Awards, I know that, but I think whoever watches it will have fun, and it’s a huge shoutout to Philly and the culture.”
Patten works in Los Angeles as a full-time filmmaker, but he co-founded the film and production company South9 Entertainment as a senior at Temple.
By directing music videos for hip-hop artists, he established himself in the entertainment industry.
Patten shot videos for Meek Mill, a rapper from North Philadelphia, after 2011 broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media alumnus Abdul Q, better known as his stage name DJ Damage, connected him to the music scene in Philadelphia.
“I had shot a music video for another group called the Paper Department,” Patten said. “So that was the first time I met [Meek Mill], which was on set, shooting a music video. And then he saw the video, he liked it and hit me up to do the rest of his videos.”
“That’s kind of where everything started,” he added.
Patten said Meek Mill was a hard worker and always open to Patten’s ideas. In the music video for the song “Believe Me,” Patten sings alongside the rapper, while the video he directed follows detectives monitoring a drug deal.
“He definitely let me spread my wings in terms of the contexts I would come up with and pitch to him,” Patten said. “I think to this day, I’m still the only person who’s gotten him to put a shirt and tie on in a music video.”
As Meek Mill’s fame grew, Patten found his work getting more attention and publicity, which kickstarted his own career.
“In two years, we went from zero to 60 million views,” he said. “That was when Meek was blowing up. He brought a lot of eyeballs to my work.”
Patten’s music video repertoire now includes Wale, Rick Ross and E-40. While he now lives in Los Angeles, he tries to incorporate Philadelphia into his work as much as he can.
Q said Patten is one of the few people whose work truly represents Philadelphia.
“It’s about always being themselves and not trying to be someone else, not copying or trying to resemble somebody else’s sound,” Q said. “They’ve just been true to themselves, and that’s what really embodies Philly.”
Now, Patten is anticipating the release of his first feature film, which he said is a dream for anyone working in the industry.
“It’s always been a goal, just takes a while to get there,” he said.
Patten said the film had a very small budget, but what it lacked in money it made up for in passion from its cast and crew members.
“And we got it done by the skin of our teeth, and a lot of big flavors, and a lot of help from the great cast and crew, which was willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to get it done.”
Josh West, a 2014 political science alumnus and a co-writer of “Backfire,” said they faced challenges on set but pulled through because of Patten’s direction.
“I saw how Dave was able to manage different personalities on set,” West said. “There were high-stakes shooting moments and conflicts between actors, but we got through it.”