Dino Tripodis has gotten a lot of grief about the name of his film-production company, Never the Luck.
It comes from the original Ocean's 11, the 1960 heist film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other members of the Rat Pack, of which Tripodis is a big fan. The line is uttered by Richard Conte's character, Anthony Bergdorf, who keels over from a heart attack in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, just as it seems he and the others are going to get away with a big score.
"Never the luck," he says with his dying breath, "never the luck."
As a result, lots of people think Never the Luck Productions is almost depressing or has a negative connotation.
Far from it, said Tripodis, a Clintonville resident and longtime morning host on Sunny 95 (WSNY-FM).
"It's not always about the luck," he said. "At some point, it has to be about the talent."
Tripodis said he is hoping talent -- and perhaps a little bit of luck -- could be combined to make his company's first feature-length film a major success.
Never the Luck has teamed with Arbor Avenue Films, another local independent production company, on Star and the Snowman. The crime drama, with a script by "seasoned Hollywood screenwriter" William Farmer (Jonah Hex), started as a short film by John Whitney, a partner in Arbor Avenue Films with Phil Garrett, Tripodis said.
"A mob enforcer attempts to piece together his mysterious past while trying to figure out who he can trust and why someone wants him dead," is how the film, slated for release in 2014, is described on the Internet Movie Database.
The hit man and the call girl at the center of the drama, having known only crime and violence all their lives, are both searching "for whatever their normal could be," Tripodis said.
"This film is terrific," he said. "The script is so well-written. I read a lot of scripts from a lot of local people, and this is one I read so quickly. It just moves from start to finish. I think it will do well when it's all put together."
Star and the Snowman is partly set in Steubenville. That makes it all the dearer to Tripodis, who spent part of his formative years in the Ohio River steel town.
Steubenville has had negative press coverage lately after a scandal involving rape allegations against two members of the vaunted high school football team.
Tripodis was born in Chicago and lived there until he was 9, when his family moved to Greece for two years. Eventually, he was sent to live with his mother's parents in Steubenville.
"I've always loved the movies and, ultimately, whether she realizes it or not, it's my grandmother's fault," Tripodis said.
He described her as "overly protective" and said she would let him go to only two places on his own: the library across the street and, on Saturdays, the movie theaters downtown.
"As a result, I just became a movie addict," Tripodis said.
This addiction was stoked further when he landed a part in the 1998 crime drama, Bottom Feeders, also known as Criminal Minds, which starred John Saxon.
Six years ago, Tripodis said, aware of how many talented actors and filmmakers are in the Columbus area, he launched Never the Luck Productions to provide those people with the opportunity to "get their break, get their chance to do something creative." After producing some short films, the ongoing revival of Nite Owl Theater at Studio 35 and the independent movie, Minus One, in 2010, Never the Luck is poised for the first feature film in conjunction with Arbor Avenue Films.
Tripodis said he's been asked by production partners Garret and Whitney, who is to direct, to play the key role of Frank, a father figure to Snowman, who introduced him to the life he leads.
"Nobody, including myself, is a lock," Tripodis said.
If someone better comes along, Tripodis the producer said, he won't hesitate to replace Tripodis the actor.