A Surprising Side of Hollywood
Big names pitch in to help young black filmmaker get his break
In a small square park in a crowded San Fernando Valley suburb, a film crew is spread out around the baseball backstop. A couple of kids hover in the background as two actors, a stunt man, and the director discuss the fight scene they're about to shoot between a father and son.
''Is this the way you want me to flip him?'' asks the middle-aged actor Ernie Hudson with Norris Young, who plays his son, slung over his back.
The director looks at the stuntman, then nods.
''Yeah, that's good,'' says Rahi (Rocky) Hudson, the young writer-director of this short film called ''Swift.'' Ironically, Hudson the director is also the son of Hudson the actor. A real-life scenario that will be mirrored on the screen.
The film is about an African-American family where the balance of power is shifting between the father, who is coming to terms with the limitations of age, and his teenage son, who's learning the generosity that comes with maturity.
It's unique not only because of the sensitivity of the story line, but because of the way it's being made: with donations. In a town some people consider shallow, power hungry, star struck, and egocentric, Hudson's project has prompted generous offerings of time and money from some of the industry's heavyweights.
Spielberg producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, special-effects Academy Award-winner Stan Winston, and actor Phillip Poteat have donated toward the film's $30,000 budget. ''Batman'' storyboard artist David Russell is giving his time and talents to the cause. Songwriter and record producer Charlie Midnight is writing the music, donating not only his services, but also his studio.
''I truly believe this will be powerful and empowering, and will introduce a young man who will make a resounding impact on the world of film,'' says executive producer Cathryn Jaymes, who's managed and nurtured such talents as the now famed director Quentin Tarantino.
Ms. Jaymes was introduced to young Hudson by his father, who several times asked her to look at his son's work. She finally relented, out of courtesy, and was surprised to find real talent in one of Hudson's earlier shorts.
''It was remarkably imaginative and well produced and incredibly well directed,'' Jaymes says. ''I mean a very obvious directorial signature was already in place visually.''