Saturday, June 21, 2008


There is a belief that when you attach the word urban to a indie movie that the story will be based on life in the ghetto or barrio. Plus the production quality will be less than an art house film made for the same budget.

Many talented filmmakers are changing that thought by putting out high quality urban movies made on indie budgets. The diversity of the urban genre continues to grow because the storylines are connecting with a larger audience by going beyond what you would expect to see in a urban movie.

The word 'crime drama' is used to describe films like 'The Departed', 'Scarface' and 'American Gangster', but you could easily label them as great urban movies.

After I watched 'Menace II Society' by the Hughes Brothers I knew I wanted to make urban movies. Making independent urban movies has been a learning experience for me.

I completed my first film titled 'Consignment'. The script centered around an East Coast drug dealer that runs into trouble and has to lay low on the West Coast. This being the movies all the problems that come with drug money, women, and jealous rivals plays out.

When I sat down to write the script I knew I was going for a story that was authentic and showed a Black and Latino perspective. When it was done I was able to mix in some outlaw bikers and corrupt police. The bonus was being able to add people I grew up with to the cast to give it a real edge.

Working within a budget that was raised through the kindness of family and friends was challenging, but rewarding. Not having money to throw at problems forces you to come up with creative solutions.

The cool thing about indie filmmaking is you're more open to collaboration. I reached out to Tim Beachum founder of Jackin4Beats.Com, one of the original Hip Hop music news sites, to connect with artists for the soundtrack. We were both hungry to see a hot urban movie that had a Black and Latino perspective. I flew out from So Cal to Virginia Beach to see if we could pull together on 'Consignment'. He joined the team and I ended up editing the movie on the East Coast with him.

Through collaboration I was able to add a quality soundtrack featuring East Coast & West Coast artists including Custom Made Recordings, Ayreon The Don™, and Malice & Da Commission. Also I was able to work with an editor that understood the pacing of the movie. When you're sitting in an editing suite with someone for long hours it helps a lot of if you're in the same page. The CGI effects Tim Beachum was able to deliver looked great, especially the work he did on a scene that caused for an acid trip.

I completed my 2nd film titled 'In With Thieves'. I new the cast was solid on this shoot because Casting Director/Production Coordinator Stream Gardner (always a slash in indie) was able to bring actors back from 'Consignment'.

Plus deliver some actors that brought their best with no ego. What I liked on this movies was we mixed it up big time in this urban movie. We folded in the Albanian Mob, American crooks from the streets, and a Cuban cartel that practiced a wild version of Santeria. I asked a family friend that ran a botanica to show me items that would fit the movies. She set me up down to Jesus Malverde giving us realism at the voodoo altar. Despite all the unique creative elements this movie is still urban to the core.

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