Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Urban Movies Ode

Urban movies continue to grow in
When Coke bottle was way past expiration.
Thus the huddled, shuddering BBQ penguins
And profound cathartic realization!

Urban Movies Continue To Rise

Urban movies continue to grow in popularity. This can be seen in the exploding direct to video market where urban movies reign supreme. The rising quality of independent urban movies has made them much more attractive to DVD consumers.

Some talented film directors behind this urban movement are Charles Dutton, Damon Dash, Sid Kali, Hype Williams, John Singleton, Dale Stelly, Mike O'Dea and Quentin Tarantino.

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 an urban movie. Filmmakers are pushing the complexity and overall look of the urban genre to new levels.

Exploring the urban landscape and culture makes for entertaining films that offer viewers a look into a slice of americana they might not otherwise experience. Collaborating with dedicated individuals that work in front of the camera and behind the scenes to create quality urban movies has always been a life goal of Director Sid Kali.

Sid Kali made his directorial debut with the urban feature "Consignment". The spirit of independent filmmaking came together. We felt "Consignment" was best served highlighting a Latino and Black perspective of the events that were going to unfold in the film.

The plot centers around a Virginia Beach drug dealer that runs into trouble and has to lay low in Southern California. This being the movies all the problems that come with power, drug money, fast women, and jealous rivals has to come out. It was nice to be able to mix in the subtle cultural differences between the two places.

This West Coast and East Coast mix worked out because Co-Producer and Editor Tim Beachum had lived in Ohio, Detroit , and Virginia Beach during his years. While Sid Kali has only lived in Southern California his entire life. By working together they were able to blend these influences together. "Consignment" is being released on DVD November 2007 by Maverick Entertainment Group, Inc. Support independent film and add this feature to your DVD collection.

An important aspect of making an urban movie is keeping it authentic. At the independent level budgets are tighter, so it helps if you write a script that has elements you can realistically translate from the page to the screen. The basic idea is to write a script that you can shoot using your resources. The cool thing with urban movies are they lend themselves to many more backdrops than before.

It used to be when you attached the word urban to a film the story had to take place in the inner city. That's changing as urban culture and style is moving beyond those pervious boundaries. This makes for an exciting time to shoot urban movies.

The word "crime drama" is used to describe films like "Training Day", "The Departed", "Heat" and 'Scarface'. To some movie buffs these are urban masterpieces done by highly talented and respected filmmakers at the top of their creative game. This shows the diversity of the urban genre.

After the experience of shooting "Consignment". Slice Of Americana Films wanted to expand their take on the urban genre with "In With Thieves". This urban movie brings together a unique blend of creative elements.

"In With Thieves" features a Cuban cartel that practices their own version of Santeria, an African based crime group that deals in blood diamonds, ruthless Albanian gangsters, and an American burglary crew that is Latino, Black, and Irish.

This unique blend of creative and visual elements we felt would make for a provocative urban film. The inspiration was to show that urban stories can have global influences.

Career criminal Jack McGee (Tony Napoli) is out of prison facing hard times. His trophy wife Karen (Jennifer Day) spent all the money they had stashed away and found time to fall in love with another man. Max (Edward Gusts) his junkie brother-in-law, made enemies with the Albanian Mafia leaving Jack to hold the bag on a large debt. The release date for Jack insn't a surprise to anyone who runs in criminal circles. Former gang member turned burglar Hector Garcia (Walter Pagan) and street huslter Frank Washington (Jerome A. Hawkins) are his partners in crime. When Jack was running the robbery crew they were flush with cash. After he went inside the scores dried up. Now it's time for them to reconnect and go back to work.

Anton (Jayson Matthews) a savvy and vicious Albanian boss, has his trusted solider Vicktor (Marek Matousek) carry out a brutal act of violence to send a message to Jack. The message is clear to Jack. Pay the debt or everyone close to him will be murdered. Over friendly welcome home drinks Jack asks Hector and Frank to come through on the money he needs to pay off Anton. They both refuse his request turning the reunion bitter and bringing some old wounds to the surface.

Karen halfway walks back into Jack's life pushing him into a frantic mix of anger, confusion, and dark alcohol fueled thoughts. She's still involved with the other man. Adding to his problems is a gunpoint reminder that he has a short time to pay his debt or Karen will be killed. Pressed he hooks back up with Hector and Frank to steal the money he needs to pay Anton. They come up short.

He falls into a heated sexual affair with contract killer Rita Desouza (Arnita Champion) to numb his pain. Sex turns to conspiracy when she lays out a plan to have her husband ripped-off during a 5 million dollar diamond deal. Her husband is ruthless Cuban kingpin David Desouza (Art Parga). He's heavily into his own version of Santeria and the blood diamond market. He depends on Rita and his most bloodthirsty enforcer Voodoo (Jesse James Youngblood) took keep people in line.

Jack brings in Hector and Frank to help him pull off the robbery. Out of time on his debt he's forced to let Anton in on the job for a large cut of the take. They crash in on illegal blood diamond deal between a Cuban cartel and an African based crime syndicate headed by an ambitious upstart known as Omar (Keion Adams).

The rip-off erupts into deadly violence. This sets off a frenzy of double-crosses and brazen executions that entwine everyone in a bloody conflict that plays out to an explosive ending. Friendship, loyalty, and love run short in a world of greed.

The trailer can be viewed on YouTube.Com, Yahoo Videos, Google Videos, AtomFilms.Com, and iFilm.Com

"In With Thieves" is in the final stages of post-production and is being represented to interested distributors by Mark Steven Bosko the author of "The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook". A must read for independent filmmakers that want practical advice on the business. While filmmaking is an art you should be prepared for the harsh realities of the business side. All filmmakers take lumps coming up through the game.

Urban movies will continue to rise as talented filmmakers show their passion for making movies with an independent heart. Slice Of Americana Films has started pre-production for their third urban movie titled "Stash Spot". Rival criminals fight to find a fortune in cash ripped-off during a drug deal gone bad. When the stick-up artists responsible turn up dead, a bloodbath erupts as each vicious criminal makes their ruthless play to locate the money.

You always learn things with each film you produce. Hopefully filmmakers will continue to push the urban genre beyond what it is now.

* Quick and dirty tips if you're going to produce your own urban movie:

(* does not apply to filmmakers that have Hollywood connections or access to big money)

Avoid writing an amazing scene like the shoot-out in 'Heat' if you can't pull it off.

Write realistic locations into your script that you have shooting access to.

Action scenes are always going to take longer to light and shoot than talking head scenes.

Make sure your dialogue is authentic to the culture of the street. If you're writing your own script the right words will cost you nothing.

Wardrobe can't make Corey Feldman (nothing against The Corey) a Latino gangster by having him wear a bandanna and a flannel shirt buttoned only at the top. You see that type of phony wardrobe in some really bad urban movies.

Nothing will go as planned.

Leave your ego behind.

Whatever happens keep the show rolling.

Slice Of Americana Films was formed in 2005 by Sid Kali to produce quality urban movies:

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TV Shows To Watch Poem

These days, it seems that shows really never
Wipes its entrails across the floors.
I passionly kissed the cadaver -
Gleam the wisdom of our ancestors...

TV Shows to Watch in Syndication

These days, it seems that shows really never go off the air: they live forever in syndication. It’s not exactly the same, with every show labeled a “rerun” and being one you have likely seen (or maybe have memorized), but syndicated shows allow our favorite series to exist in places other than our hearts. Still, syndication isn’t for every show, or at least it shouldn’t be. The following is our list of the Best TV Shows to Watch in Syndication, shows that are constantly just as funny and just as endearing as they ever were.

Seinfeld: George. Kramer. Elaine. Jerry. A show about nothing was nothing but spectacular. From the Soup Nazi to George’s mother, from Uncle Leo to Elaine’s penchant for deciding if dates were “sponge worthy,” from Puddy to Peterman, Seinfeld touched on the absurdities of life in the most sensible manner. This show only gets better with age, unlike the marble rye bread Jerry stole from a helpless old lady.

The Simpsons: If Seinfeld were a cartoon, it would rival The Simpsons. Filled with a jumble of original characters (Heidily-ho, neighbor), The Simpsons continually remains animated in every sense of the word. Brilliantly written, it is filled with episodes you sometimes have to watch four or five times just to get every joke. This is one series that (when it does go off the air) will never get old.....much like the characters themselves.

Full House: Uh, just kidding. I know: how rude.

The Wonder Years: Generally thought of as a comedy, this show was filled with dramatic coming of age moments. Set in the late sixties and early seventies, it follows Kevin Arnold as he struggles with the trials of growing up. His family – a hippy sister, a bullying brother, a stern father, and a stay at home mom – his allergic to everything best friend, and his childhood crush all have importance in his life. A show that was heartfelt and honest, The Wonder Years is a series people can relate to at any age.

Saturday Night Live: Saturday Night Live has certainly had its ups and downs, with some episodes making us laugh till we cry and others making us long for a Golden Girls marathon to watch instead. But, the thing about SNL is when it’s good, it’s great. The series that brought us Nick the Lounge Singer, Wayne’s World, The Church Lady, Buckwheat, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, Matt Foley, Pat, the Spartan Cheerleaders, and Stuart Smalley, Saturday Night Live reruns are good enough, they’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like them.

Northern Exposure: One of those shows that just didn’t get enough respect when it was on the air, syndication gives us a chance to right a wrong. A series that follows a New York doctor as he tries to make a life in a small Alaskan town, Northern Exposure was often bizarre, usually eccentric, but always original. It also had a unique way of being completely out there and totally real at the same time. The way it depicted the clash of people from different upbringings was right on the money. This is one show people will always be glad to expose themselves to, time and time again.

Jennifer Jordan is a senior editor for Possessing an infatuation with pop culture – and a gift for stalking – she keeps up on the latest news of the musical world.

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