Avant garde filmmaker Fotopoulos steps into commercial realm with $2 million thriller

After eight features and more than 100 shorts that have made him a favorite of museum and underground festival programmers, James Fotopoulos is embarking on his first commercial production.

This spring and summer, Fotopoulos will direct “Area Six,” a $2 million adaptation of local crime novelist Jay Bonansinga’s 2001 police procedural novel “The Sleep Police.”

Fotopoulos was already thinking of making a police film when Santa Monica producers Kimberly Shane O’Hara and Eric Klein approached him late last year, having already acquired rights to the project.

O’Hara and Klein produced and distributed the 2003 Anthony LaPaglia/Eric Stoltz comedy/drama “Happy Hour” with Davis Entertainment Filmworks. They’ve budgeted $1 million to distribute “Area Six,” according to company documents. O’Hara and Bonansinga adapted the screenplay for “Area Six.”

“[O’Hara and Klein are] taking my art world rep and moving it into commercial territory,” Fotopoulos said.