- Donations: recording studio location
- In-Kind Donations: lighting equipment, lens kit and services
- Equity Financing
- Crowdfunding ($10,500 indiegogo campaign).
- What were the development dates? December 1, 2014 through March 2015.
- Tell me a little about your background as a filmmaker? I shot my first film, a short film for the BET/Kaiser Permanente Rap-It-Up HIV AIDS Short Film Competition. I was one of the Top Ten Winners in 2006. I didn’t win first place but someone saw my short and thought I should make it into a feature film. I did and I have been working on my film career for the last 8 ½ years ever since. The picture I was working with before this one is called Charm City Blues and it is currently making its festival run right now.
- Why were you attracted to Six 2 Six as a concept? I liked the original script. I thought it was different than the urban dramas out today and I loved the way the main characters moved throughout the story. Sort of a six degrees of separation type of set up. Gabriel Abato who plays one of the lead characters is also owner and rapper of a label called Six 2 Six Records. Six 2 Six is loosely based on his journey as an artist and entrepreneur and his fellow artists' lives. Once I got involved I flipped the script he and Janine wrote and gave it a little more punch and I scaled the story to fit the budget I had in mind.
- During the budgeting phase what were your concerns? My concerns were when you have more than two to three locations you need a little more crew, locations of course, food for everyone, props, set dressing if necessary. We were blessed to have resources in place to curb most of those costs.
- What was your strategy to finance the picture? I knew from the onset that I could get the financing from amongst my colleagues/partners in Baltimore. Gabriel Abato is one of the initial investors because it is his concept/story and he told me about a couple of his colleagues whom he felt would also put up some of the funding.
- What challenges did you face at this stage? None at all. They understood my plan and we made it work.
- How did you finance throughout the making of the picture? Gabriel Abato, Hassan Hammond and Kevin Scott Loma put up the equity funding. I also paid for additional administrative, lodging, food and production meetings before and during filming.
- government grants;
- tax incentives and shelters;
- crowdfunding; and
- financing (debt or equity).
- What were the pre-production dates? March through May 2015
- What equipment did you use? Black Magic 2.5 K camera, Boom, separate recording, LED lights, and background lights, colored bulbs, lenses, filters, sliders, steady cam,
- Why did you shoot with the particular equipment you shot with? This is our second project where we used the Black Magic. It shoots in low light and we like the particular style and look it gives to close-up shots. We wanted to do more handheld work and we as a production move pretty fast to get through pages of script and at least two locations a day.
- How did you choose the look of your locations or your cast outfits? Jimmy Powell, my DP, and I have a love of texture and color. We are both are fine artists as well and we see everything in color. We also like to work in wide open spaces for movement so the use of depth of field is important to us. Mike Winfield, my costume designer, and I had the actors write about their characters. Mike read the script and come up with outfits, colors and ideas for the simplest things he thinks an actor should wear or use for their characters. He collaborates with the actors and I trust his talent so he just brings the goods.
- How did you get your cast and/or the crew? Most of the crew are people I have worked together with before and the cast came from announcements via social media and actors and indie filmmaker groups. We were blessed to get such an amazing cast. We were also blessed to get a few known names in the project. like Syleena Johnson, Chief Rocker Busy Bee, Treach, DJ Squirrel Wyde and DJ Cutt.
- How did you overcome any challenges at this phase? I worked with the local talent for the Baltimore/DC/Virginia area. I knew the budget I had to secure the name actors. I didn’t have many challenges because the actors loved the project so that was half the battle. I also worked with a few of the actors before on my last project. I like to work with the same crew and we keep our family of actors working on all our projects as much as possible.
|(from l. to r.) Elliot Lyles, Syleena Johnson and Gabriel "M.I." Abato|
ADVICE FOR FILMMAKERS IN THE PRE-PRODUCTION STAGE
- What challenges did you face on the set? We didn’t face too many challenges. One concern about the Black Magic camera is that it can get very hot. We knew this from last year’s production so we planned accordingly. Having a small crew also can bring challenges. I do a lot of prepping in pre-production so there isn’t any problem during production or post. I do know though that it may take a little longer for set up and shooting with one camera.
- How did you resolve the challenges? We built into the schedule time to wait until the camera cooled off before we would resume shooting. We prepared shot lists before we shot. Also, my crew and I have several meetings to talk about how we will work at the beginning and end of each shoot day. Also, we split up teams on our heaviest days. We would send my Assistant and a couple of PA’s to get ready for the second location, order lunch or pick up actors. We discussed it during our meetings and it worked out very well.
- How did you work with your cast? I have been told I am OCD with organizing my projects. I first have to put on my Producer’s hat to make sure everything is on point with cast and crew. I then put on my Director’s hat and I email my cast to make certain their availability is set. I make sure they talk to my costume designer, my assistants for their paperwork and then we discuss their characters. When it comes to directing actors, I am very much a Robert Altman-type director. I trust the actors and give them creative space and shelter for them do what they do best - act.
- Any challenges on the set? Time constraints on location were sometimes challenging but nothing major. Sometimes, we couldn't quite get started on time. But since I don’t like to overstay my welcome, we moved at a pace that some may not be quite use to on a set. I do a lot of apologizing to my cast and crew if we are running over time and I am known for working at the speed of light.
|Cass checks the shot with One Way or Another Productions producer, Princeton Holt|
- What is your plan for post? During post, I am working with Jimmy Powell as my main editor. We have worked together for about six years now. Since he is also the DP, he is already very familiar with the story and its flow but I make sure he has his edit logs to review, if necessary. I also gave him the updated script and any changes that occurred on set. He sends me 1/4 of the film at a time so that I can make notes and send changes when necessary. He also provides footage to our composers and everyone involved in the sound mixing, etc.
- What challenges do you foresee? None that are serious at this time. However, I do know continuity can be challenging because I like to think outside of the box and make changes on set as we film. But I have an agile crew and I'm organized so I am able to make it work. Plus, I found a great supportive partner in Gabriel with this project so I feel like we covered ourselves in making sure everything makes sense in the script and in the budget (at least I hope).
- How will you resolve continuity issues? If I have any continuity problems then I will shoot some pick up scenes and have Jimmy shoot anything we may need to make it work.
- What is your plan for the use of music? We will have the title track play throughout the film. It's produced and rapped by Gabriel (M.I.) and Wiz. I also have Mark Collins and LaVelle Powell producing the score. It will be a collaborative effort of all the musicians in our family of artists. We are using both royalty-free and paid music.
|Treach of Naughty By Nature|
- How do you plan to market this film? We are looking to market to the young adult audiences who can relate to our two main characters. We plan to use traditional, nontraditional, new media and technology platforms. We will submit to some top festivals and other regional festivals to build a buzz for the film.
- What are your distribution goals? Our goals are to distribute the film via all digital platforms. We want to work with a distributor who can also shop the film directly to network channels for licensing. We plan on negotiating the right to sale DVD’s via our own website as well as allowing a distributor to place us nationally in the big retail and wholesales outlets. We want to be able to sell our foreign rights to individual markets that are interested. We hope this film legs last about 3-5 years on the market or more.