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Pilot's projects
Sky's the limit, says Texan who sees Dallas as the next Hollywood

04/10/2001

By Al Brumley / The Dallas Morning News

Craig Cosgray has a vision.

It's the kind that can drive a man to spend nearly all of his free time – not to mention a good chunk of his own change – working to make it come true.

Mr. Cosgray, a Delta Air Lines pilot, wants Dallas to become the new Hollywood.

Simple as that.

Sure, movies get shot in and around Dallas. But Mr. Cosgray wants to see local filmmaking become a full-time, big-business venture, the way it's conducted in Los Angeles.

And he sees no reason it shouldn't happen other than that people can't seem to wrap their West-Coast-oriented minds around the idea.

"We just need somebody to get on board who's willing to take a little bit of a chance," says Mr. Cosgray, 52. "And it's not even much of a chance. There are extremely talented people here, and we can create a lot of jobs in Dallas.

"It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. I can do a $50 million movie for $4 million ... and we can come in, hell, $46 million under Hollywood." Unusual talk for an airline pilot. But Mr. Cosgray's heart has always been wrapped in celluloid.

He recently kicked off Marengo Films, a DVD company that buys masters of classic films and redistributes them, two movies per disc, with original packaging and about the cleanest prints to be found anywhere.

The company – named after Napoleon's horse – currently has 16 movies out, including Angel and the Badman, Blue Steel and His Girl Friday.

Mr. Cosgray is also about to kick off a "Killer B" line of double-feature DVDs with such titles as The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, The Harrad Experiment, Carnival of Souls and The Boob Tube.

In 1995, a film he wrote called A Matter of Honor was released, and he has a new script that has earned high recognition at several writing seminars and contests.

Mr. Cosgray studied journalism in college, and after graduation he joined the Air Force and served as a pilot in Vietnam. He stayed in the Air Force seven years and then joined Delta. But he never lost his love of film, and it was about that time that he began writing scripts.

Working on A Matter of Honor taught him about all facets of the film industry – from editing to selling to distribution.

At the American Film Market in Los Angeles, he met a man who owned a large collection of master prints of public-domain classic films.

"And the DVD format was just coming on," Mr. Cosgray says. "And I thought, 'Wow, that's an interesting concept – putting classic movies on DVD. But how do I sell it?'" He eventually met a distributor interested in the idea, and they formed Marengo about a year ago.

Mr. Cosgray says that he'd like to put out about 20 movies per quarter but that finding good masters is hard and the company needs more investors. Also, he says, to ensure high quality he has to watch each movie at least five or six times to make sure that the audio and video have been cleaned up to his satisfaction. (The final screening can be nerve-racking, he says.)

Still, the company has already made half its money back, he says, and he hopes that eventually it will earn enough to allow him to put a new classic-movies channel on cable TV.

And ultimately, he hopes Marengo will be the seed from which a film industry in Dallas grows. The biggest key, he believes, is distribution, and he's trying to solve that problem with Marengo.

"There's talent galore in this town, and if somebody will give us a chance, we can take it and run and never look back," he says. "My God, we're like a nation in Texas, anyway. If France can make their crappy little movies, why can't we do it?"

This article © 2001 Dallas Morning News. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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