Sunday, December 9, 2007

Maurice Jamal's Dirty Laundry

Last night I had the opportunity to attend one of the many sold-out NY premiere screenings of writer/director Maurice Jamal's new film "Dirty Laundry." I must admit I am always a supporter of independent filmmakers, especially those done by other out men of color. His first feature, "The Ski Trip" which seemed to play endlessly when the Logo Network first premiered, was rather disappointing to me. However I was very happy to see that the film, about a group of Black and Latino gays and lesbian who go away on a weekend getaway to cheer up their newly dumped friend -- which also included Emanuel Xavier (one of the hosts of Out at the Center) in the ensemble cast-- getting the play on the network in the first place. This was prior to the premiere of the now classic series "Noah's Arc" of course. The thing that disappointed me about "The Ski Trip" was the broad scope of stereotypical gay characters portrayed. Not to say that people like these don't actually exist in real life, but I guess I really wanted to see a less buffoonish representation of gay people of color than what had previously been shown in other films prior to "The Ski Trip." With the exception of the lead (played by Maurice Jamal), I thought that some of the characters were more caricatures rather than grounded in reality.

Whatever my personal reasons for not being a great fan of "The Ski Trip," I have to say that Maurice Jamal has certainly won me over with "Dirty Laundry." In addition to some well known actors starring, including Rockmond Dunbar (from TV's Prison Break), Loretta Divine (the original 'Lorrell" from Broadway's "Dreamgirls") , the always flawless Jenifer Lewis and hysterically funny Alec Mapa, the story was well constructed and quite entertaining. For his second feature, I think Maurice Jamal has redeemed himself as a filmmaker. A filmmaker that I imagine (and hope) we will see more great work to come from in the future. This film in particular has more crossover appeal not just to the LGBT audiences or the African-American audiences, but anyone who has ever had a family (dysfunctional or otherwise) and had to make decisions that alter one's path. From a filmmakers POV I thought that the production value of the film was a major step up from his prior film. It was also inspiring to me, as a struggle to get my thesis film produced, that there is an audience for comedies such as this. It gives me a major boost of hopefulness for my own project.

Also at the premiere was Nathan Hale Williams (one of the Executive Producers) and his partner Author/Activist (and Associate Producer) Keith Boykin. I have been a big fan of Keith Boykin's writing ever since I first read "One More River to Cross" (that I loaned to my friend Paul Andrew Lucre -who is sitting across from me on his laptop as I type this post -many years ago and he has since become a fan of Keith Boykin's work as well) and I refer to my tattered copy of "Respecting the Soul" almost daily to help get me through the day. As a black man and an out gay man, it's a comfort for me to know that there is someone else out there who is making a voice in my community. Also at the premiere was Jenifer Lewis and as I was leaving I saw, the very funny Erica Watson - who in my opinion, stole every scene she was in as the gold-toothed Clalrine - in the lobby of the theater.

I can't say enough good things about this comedy except you have to see it for yourself and take your family members to see it too. It's just ashamed that this film hasn't gotten the promotion that big budget films like Tyler Perry's "Why Did We Get Married" has gotten or the other current film with Loretta Divine, "This Christmas." But this is the why people have blogs to get the word-of-mouth out about why you should add this film to your MUST SEE list!

I also wanted to mention my music video that I posted many months ago (were I caught Will Smith on the set of the upcoming film "I Am Legend") has been getting a lot of hits recently. Thanks to all of you who have checked it out. I plan on going to see this film as soon as it comes out since 1) I think Will Smith is very hot for a guy with big ears and 2) I really liked the original film version --"The Omega Man" starring the sorta hot Charlton Heston -- that scared me silly when I saw it as a kid. In any case I plan on seeing Will in "I Am Legend."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mira Nair and World AIDS Day

So much has happened in the past few weeks I don't know were to begin. For starters I met one of my directing idols, Mira Nair. I had the opportunity to meet her at a retrospective of her work last Sunday at the IFC center. They showed her new short film called "Migration" which dealt with HIV transmission in India. Mira has never shied away from taboo and hot button topics. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I have always loved her work. It was very apropos for these few weeks since today is World AIDS Day.

Speaking of which, this morning I help with camera work at a World AIDS Day event held at the Center. It was a concert followed by a candle lite vigil and reading of the names of those who have passed from this dreaded disease. The concert was very moving and spiritual with invited classical artists and vocalists. I should also add that if you get the chance to see "Migration" you should. It was very powerful filmmaking.

In addition to viewing Mira Nair's short film, all the attendees were given copies of the new DVD release of her film "The Namesake." It had some really incredible special features that would be of interest to many film student. One in particular are excerpts from one of her courses that she teaches at Columbia University in the Film Program over there. She even has invited guests that come in and offer commentary on the film producing process. A couple of my professors studied with her at Columbia and said it was a very good and informative course.

I'm still trying to get my film financed and find a key location in which to shoot. I tried posting an ad on but eventually I was rejected because of my "fund raising" content. No bother, I will post it here on my blog in the meantime. See Below:

Executive Producers

I am currently in the process of trying to get my student thesis film shot. I would like to shoot the first weekend in Jan or sooner depending on availability. I am looking for 1 location in exchange for an Executive Producer's credit on the project. The film is a comedy short that I plan on entering in all of the LGBT Film Festivals worldwide upon completion. The potential for marketing products and services to this audience is also a plus for those interested in being involved. I currently have a documentary that I'm entering in festivals.

I am looking for 2 things that would be good for anyone wishing to build up their resume with Executive Producer credits:

1) One interior location of one New York City apartment. All 10 scenes take place in the bedroom (1), bathroom (1), living room (7), and kitchen (1). Ideally the door to apartment should open to show kitchen and/or living room but I'm flexible.

2) Funds! This is my thesis film for graduation and it is my responsibility to find money to defray cost of equipment rental, prop and wardrobe, catering, post-production cost, etc. The film program that I'm in doesn't teach a class on how to exactly do this, however it is expected. Unfortunately for me I wasn't born in the Coppola or Spielberg families, so I am trying this route.

My school only gave me 12 weeks in which to complete this film. However, after many, many failed attempts to start this (and many doors closed) I'm trying a different approach and I hope that someone, somehow, somewhere out there reading this will be able to help in anyway possible. Who knows maybe you could say one day "Yea, I was an Executive Producer on Billy Marshall Thompson's thesis film!"

Serious interested parties should contact me via email and we can set up a meeting and I can show you my Director's notebook for the project as well as my current reel of my work. I should add that the small cast includes 2 small dogs and 3 adults. The crew includes 6 adults. I should also add that I got an A on the script (and maintain a 3.88 GPA) and all of my professors are big supporters of my project and the belief that I can make a good film.

If this sounds like something that might interest you please contact me or if it sounds like someone you know might be interested in, please forward this posting to them.