72 Hours is a rare thing. An inspiration that became an idea that sparked project that drew on contributions from everyone at Reel Works that attracted a brilliant writer/director and launched our most successful Kickstarter and is now in production as our first ever feature film.
It began with filmmaker Bilal Ndongo’s 72 Hours: A Love Story? – a short doc produced in our Spring 2013 Lab about a young man searching Brownsville for the girl he loved. It was funny, surprising, raw and real. I remember thinking – when was the last time we saw a story about a group of young black men in the ‘hood who were searching for… love? Bilal had captured something we see every day at Reel Works – young people of all backgrounds with dreams, ambitions, talent and drive. It’s not an image mainstream media often shows us. We decided to turn Bilal’s short doc into a feature film.
Step one was to hire a brilliant theater teacher, Jenna Weinberg, to lead Bilal and a dozen other Reel Works filmmakers in workshops that took the raw material of the film and transformed it into characters and stories. Students improvised scenes and outlined a story over a course of three months.
Enter filmmaker Raafi Rivero, who joined the workshops and began working with the teens to turn their ideas into a real screenplay. The story became about 18-year old Ceasar Winslow, a restless and ambitious leader of his crew and golden boy of his neighborhood. 72 Hours before he has to leave for a prestigious university, his girlfriend dumps him and he meets the woman of his dreams – who won’t give him the time of day. Before he leaves he must put his world back together – and learn some humbling lessons about friendship, loyalty and love.
Last spring we launched our second ever Kickstarter that raised $21,000 from 213 generous backers. This summer, an angel investor joined the project transforming it from a big student film into a small professional feature.
Our cast and crew mixes talented pros with Reel Works teens. It stars Melvin Mogoli (Gimme the Loot, Law & Order) as Caesar, Erinn Westbrook (Glee,Awkward) and Andrea Rachel (The Choice). Bilal Ndongo scored a featured role. Our Director of Photography, Shawn Peters is fresh off Terrence Nance’s acclaimed The Oversimplification of Her Beauty.
Overseeing it all is Reel Works Co-Founder and Artistic Director Stephanie Walter Williams. We are both deeply grateful for the support of Reel Works’ Board of Directors, especially the brilliant legal minds of Jessica Lee and Chris Poindexter!
Production began on 12/8 and the 15 day shoot will wrap just after the New Year. Look for updates throughout the production and editing process and for invitations to screenings in 2015.
Every now and then a good idea becomes something great. 72 Hours is that rare thing!