Entries in Independent films (4)
By Laila Muhammad
Laughing to the Bank featuring Brian Hooks will be available on DVD and digital download on Feb. 18. Hooks stars and directs in this hilarious comedy about a down on his luck actor who won’t take hell no for an answer!
Along with his roles in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), Eve (2003) and Fool's Gold (2008) Hooks is most known for his long string of independent films including 3 Strikes and Nothing 2 Lose. The film also stars Devyn Ashley (TV’s 1000 Ways to Die), Tabitha Brown (House Arrest, Bad Reputation) and Darrel Cherney (DisOrientation).
In the movie Brian Hooks, playing himself, is a hard luck actor who’s been doing the Hollywood shuffle for way too long. This B-list nobody is tired of waiting for his big shot at fame and fortune. When studio executives shoot down his idea for a new TV show, Brian and his oddball entourage decide to raise the money and produce it themselves. Now, he will have to put on the performance of his life, with the help of all the crazy characters in his head, if he wants to get his chance to be a star.
Here he talks with Bean Soup Times Contributor Laila Muhammad.
I just watched your trailer and it’s awesome.
Cool, thank you.
How many independent films have you produced? I’ve seen 3 Strikes and a few others.
I’ve done about 16 or so films. I honestly don’t know the exact number. I’m always grinding and doing the work, but it’s sort of been what has sustained me and what people know me for. I just have a very independent background and my career has been a very independent path. So producing and creating my own project is what I do and what I’ve been doing forever and I’ll never stop.
What is it you appreciate about doing independent films?
After I did Fools Gold, shot with Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Hart in Australia with a $90 million dollar budget, I realized and honestly, it’s more gratifying to do an independent film like Nothing to Lose for $100,000 and it’s something about being with a small crew and people being there, obviously not for the money, because you don’t have money like that to pay them. They are there because they love what the do or they believe in you or they just love the script and it’s just so much more gratifying to get through a project with one hand tied behind your back, so to speak, opposed to you know these bigger films which is great money and it’s great times, but it’s much more rewarding and satisfying to me when you have to pull all these resources together and at the end of it you have a film that makes sense. And I just love it. I love intimacy of being an independent filmmaker.
For those who haven't seen it, what is Laughing to the Bank about?
It’s like a modern day Hollywood Shuffle that Robert Townsend made back in the day about his experience with Hollywood. This is sort of my take to a degree on my experience with Hollywood of getting to the next level so to speak. The tone of it is very Hangoverish. It’s about me and my three friends who are on this journey with me and it’s really funny.
Yes, it’s funny from the very first scene; it’s hilarious.
I was really just proud of it and like 3 Strikes it will last forever as people download and watch if over and over. I’m very proud of it.
Black actors often have to fit stereotypical roles. How does this movie address problem?
I don’t share the same views with folks who are always pointing the finger, oooo Tyler Perry is this, Tyler Perry is Bad. Everyone has to just exist and let them have their own creative space. Either it’s for you or it’s not. Period. But to bash someone about what they are doing. I feel like shame on your. Not shame on them for what they are doing. If it’s not for you, turn it off. We dealt with stereotypes in here revealing how it is navigating in Hollywood and after sitting with these movie execs and they are like, ‘why the hell would we do a show with you? Maybe we can get Kevin Hart; maybe we can get Mike Epps.’ They sort of have their guy for that moment and they sort of run him dry. Three or four bombs, then they try go to find their next guy. I think there’s room to have more than one guy at one time. Some of us laugh until the joke is about us. I’m unbiased with my laugh.
What message did you want to get across in the film?
I just wanted to make people laugh. There is so much insanity going on. Whether it affects you or not, you know it’s going on. I’m not trying to change the world with this movie; I’m just trying to make you laugh. It was not a jab at Hollywood. It was just my story.
What was your biggest challenge in producing this film?
Balancing the modest budget with trying to get it done how you want it. If there is no surplus of cash, you have to make concessions.
Thank you for your time.
Get more info or download movie at www.laughing2thebank.com
Komona’s (Rachel Mwanza) life was irreversibly altered at the tender age of 12 when rebel forces led by the Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga) rampaged through her tiny African village. The unfortunate girl was forced at gunpoint to kill her own parents (Starlette Mathata and Alex Herabo) before being abducted and brainwashed into joining the cause.
Deep in the jungle, she was befriended by other kids orphaned by the conflict before being trained to use a weapon against government soldiers. However, more valuable than marksmanship, Komona developed an uncanny knack for sensing enemy positions, a skill which proved handy during encounters with deadly snipers and machine gun nests.
This supernatural ability came to the attention of her superiors, and by the time she turned 13, the so-called “War Witch” was appointed a personal advisor of General Tiger. In that capacity, Komona also had to work closely with Magician (Serge Kanyinda), an albino boy with extra sensory perception.
It’s been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. Apparently there aren’t any celibates in foxholes either. For, it’s not long before the two seers fall madly in love. Magician proposes, they go AWOL, and Komona ends up pregnant by her 14th birthday.
Thus unfolds War Witch, a haunting drama chronicling an adolescent’s coming-of-age under the most trying of circumstances. Written and directed by Canadian Kim Nguyen who shot on location in the Congo, the moving character study was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.
The picture is cleverly constructed as a series of vivid flashbacks narrated by Komona directly addressing the unborn baby growing in her belly. While the plucky protagonist easily earns our admiration for maintaining her sanity in the midst of the madness, there is still something slightly unsettling about a production so matter-of-fact about the endless atrocities providing the backdrop for such a touching front story.
21st Century Africa presented as a godforsaken wasteland conjuring up primitive images reminiscent of the ghoulish dystopia chronicled by Conrad in Heart of Darkness.
Very Good (3 stars)
In French and Lingala with subtitles
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: TriBeCa Film