First-time filmmakers David DeLeon and Derek Justice are proving it doesn't take $1 million to make a movie.
Justice, 37, was born and raised in Norwalk and DeLeon, 35, has lived with his family in Sandusky for nine of the last 10 years.
Their first feature film, "Broken," which premiered before 300 people in May in the Detroit suburb of Novi, debuts in Ohio at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lorain Palace Theater.
It cost less than $1,000 to make, $700 of which was spent to feed the actors who worked for free.
But in 2000, the film was selected among the top 250 out of more than 7,000 screenplays for the first season of the Bravo Network's Project Greenlight reality T.V. show.
DeLeon and Justice also made Project Greenlight's top 250 in 2004 with their short horror film, "Sequence One."
Project Greenlight is sponsored by Miramax Films Corp. and actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who created the show to discover new filmmaking talent.
The winner of the competition gets $1 million to make a movie, but only one winner is selected.
After making it into the top 250 twice, DeLeon and Justice realized they had talent, but they couldn't rely on a Hollywood budget.
They used the Internet to recruit actors and create buzz for their first movie.
DeLeon and Justice say they are optimistic about their movie's Ohio premiere.
"I think it's going to be a really good time," DeLeon said. "The Detroit thing was so surreal. It was like 4 or 5 o' clock and people were waiting for tickets before we even got there."
DeLeon describes the film as a dark drama about physical, mental and drug abuse.
The movie's main character, Christian, witnessed the murder-suicide of his mom and dad when he was 8 years old.
The film centers around how that event affected his life 20 years later.
"Broken" is a dream come true for DeLeon and Justice, who have fantasized about making movies for a living since their late teenage years when they saw the movie "Alien."
Neither of them graduated from college or formally studied filmmaking before they started filming "Broken" in October 2004, a process which took almost three years.
Both men worked full-time jobs while making the movie, filming mainly on weekends.
DeLeon graduated from New London High School in 1989 and worked as a dishwasher before becoming a manager at SunCoast Video at malls in Sandusky and Elyria until 2002.
After that, he worked on the assembly line for Ford Motor Co. until taking a buyout to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time filmmaker in June 2006.
DeLeon is studying visual communication and design at Cuyahoga Community College.
Justice moved from Norwalk as a child to Lake Orion, Mich., where he graduated from high school in 1988.
He works for American Communications Network, a telecommunications company in the Detroit area.
"Broken" features a cast of nine volunteer actors and a handful of extras in addition to about six people working behind the scenes, including DeLeon and Justice who co-wrote, directed, and produced the film.
Want to go?
WHAT: Ohio premier of "Broken," a movie by area natives David DeLeon and Derek Justice
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Lorain Palace Theater, 617 Broadway, Lorain