Everyone knows you use OPM (other people's money) to finance film projects, but sometimes you've got to dig into your own pocket, and that's just what Ed Harris did, along with producers Peter M. Brandt and Joseph Allen, to get "Pollock" made.

With a budget of $6 million, Harris said, "I don't even want to talk about how much money I've put into this picture." After reading "Jackson Pollock: An American Saga" by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Harris became obsessed with the self-destructive art icon.

"I saw a photo of Pollock and realized how much we looked alike," said Harris, who became so like "Pollock" he actually learned his drip-painting technique and has friends and family clamoring for his paintings.

"It was a tough shoot," said Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Clement Greenberg, the art critic-mentor that finally abandons Pollock for another protege. "We were sweltering in Brooklyn on a tight budget and long hours, but it was worth it."

The Sony Pictures Classics film will be in limited release beginning Feb. 16 and wider release later this month. Will Harris make back his money? "Only if he gets an Oscar nomination," said Robert Buxbaum of Reel Source Inc., "then it might do some business."

With the traditional arrangement of the studio paying 50 percent of the budget, Harris and his partners will still have a $3 million investment that they may never get back.

Nor will Harris be digging in his own pocket anytime soon, since his next jobs are "A Beautiful Mind" for DreamWorks SKG and "The Hours" for Paramount/Miramax.

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The producers of "Left Behind," a Christian-friendly film that went into wide theatrical release Feb. 2, have yet to take out any major ads in the Hollywood trade papers to promote it.

Cloud Ten Pictures and Namesake Entertainment also did a complete reversal of the usual marketing procedure by releasing it initially as a video on Oct. 31, 2000. At a suggested retail price of $29.95, which included two discounted tickets to the movie, the video sold 1.4 million copies and helped raise the $17 million needed for a theatrical release.

The film was released into 1,000 theaters, and most of the showings were promoted by local businesses and organizations, enabling the producers to avoid shouldering marketing expenses. The film is based on eight works of fundamentalist fiction by Jerry Jenkins and retired Baptist minister Tim LeHaye. The books have sold a staggering 30 million copies, and three are currently New York Times best sellers.

Former teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron, star of the TV sitcom "Growing Pains," and his real-life wife and "Growing Pains" co-star, Chelsea Noble, devout Christians in real life, play new believers struggling with the implications of worldwide upheaval.

Contributing reporter Anita Talbert can be reached via e-mail at anita@la.com.

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