Monday, May 10, 2010
There are no happier people on this planet than those who decide that they want something, define what they want, get hold of the feeling of it even before it's manifestation, and then joyously watch the unfolding, as piece by piece, it begins to unfold. That's the feeling of your hands in the clay. - Abraham Hicks
I really like this quote. In the last two years it's helped me tremendously from moving away from feeling stuck and resigned to seeing possibilities and joy. I like to recognize it's workings in others who may not be aware of this thought, but are creating it just the same.
Others such as Lloyd E. Booker, an actor I interviewed last week on the upcoming premiere of a film he's in called The Evils. Booker did not start acting in the drama club in high school, nor did he choose acting as part of his college curriculum, he's never done any Broadway, Regional or even Community theater, yet this guy has gotten to pal around with the likes of the late great Bernie Mac, Samuel L. Jackson, M. Night Shaymalan, 50 Cents, George Clooney, Steven Soderberg etc... (view set pics on Booker's site)
Why, you ask? Because he thought it would be fun to be a stand in for Samuel L. Jackson on the set of Unbreakable. Back in 2000 Booker read about this highly anticipated film being made in Philly following the sensation of The Sixth Sense. At the time, Booker's occupation was as a high school counselor; and as luck would have it, he found out the mother of one of his students was a casting agent with Mike Lemon. He didn't exactly lie about needing to talk to this parent about her son, but he also made certain not to let the opportunity pass without asking about casting doubles for actors on films.
Lloyd Booker is quite the storyteller, he's animated, lively and entertaining; he's got a genuine, cool 70's throw back persona, referring to guys as "these cats". He's also fond of saying "to make a long story short" which is still only the summation of the summation. Actually, I did enjoy hearing the stories, the details of his first foray into the movie biz, showing up at the audition without headshot or resume, basically nothing but a semi-noticeable resemblance to Jackson; his impression of the awesome abundance of Craft Services; how quickly he adapted to being housed in a private honeywagon (small trailer), with an aide to run his errands and do his bidding; the good fortune of earning SAG eligibility so quickly; his exchanges with Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson with dead on voice imitations; and how one small stint lead first to other stand in work, then featured extra and small character actor parts. (Get Rich or Die Trying, Ladder 49, In Her Shoe, Changing Lanes, Ocean's 11, The Wire, Law & Order, Forensic Files)
And now he's making in roads into producing/distribution with partner Mark Elson, Managing Director of Rave Motion Pictures Ritz. Their first collaboration is producing a film series at IDEA Performing Arts Center in Camden NJ. Their first screening (The Evils) is also a fundraiser for IDEA, which stands for Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts. Their mission is to empower at risk youth in Camden by channeling their energy into music, dance, filmmaking and art; this program not only provides these young people with hope and possible job skills, it acts as a mechanism for healing and change.
The Evils screening/fundraiser takes place on Thursday, June 17, 2010. Located at the Susquehanna Bank Center on the Camden Waterfront. Booker, Elson and IDEA Program Director, Cynthia Primas have planned a full red carpet reception, with bands, art exhibit, indoor and outdoor refreshments, group discussions and more. (see below Press Release PDF) Sounds like an evening not to be missed! Although my graduation from MCC/CTI is schedule for the same evening :(
Booker treated me to a private screening of The Evils (Writer/Director Edward Payne), in this film he plays the Captain of a DEA squad in Philadelphia. The film is about the evils of drugs, whether it be using, selling, or being on the take. Daniel Bent (Stephen Berke) is a dirty DEA agent hell bent on retiring early and in style. Jerome Grimes (Skye Dennis) is a kid with a prostituting, drug addict mother, and abusive "stepfather", whom he stabs and is then carted off to jail. Grimes emerges from jail violent, greedy and full of revenge. There's a lot of other assorted drug lords and cronies all ready to kill or be killed in this deadly world of heroine trading.
The Evils is a real guys film, violent, gritty, but of course no where near as glamorized or interesting as Goodfellas. However, the audience that it's aimed at will appreciate it. It is a low-budget film, not quite up to Indie standards, but the production value and camera work is surprisingly good. Careful attention was paid to scene locations and camera angles, creating more interesting dynamics to certain scenes. The sound quality is far better than most films of this caliber, including an effective original score by Andre WolfPakk Benson.
The lead Stephen Berke, looks perfect for the part, but he just phones in the performance. Two actors from my former life in the Theater are in it - Nakia Dillard and Brian Anthony Wilson, they've grown a lot as actors since the last time I've seen them and it was a treat to see them doing well. Although a number of the other minor characters are played by very green actors. The exception being Booker himself, his part is small, but he's convincing. In all honesty, I really do see him making more and more strides in this business, piece by piece, his success is unfolding and I'll be able to say I knew him when.
The Evils IDEA Press Release