Please tell us about your background. What or who made you fall in love with cinema? How did you become interested in filmmaking and what did you work on before making Mickey HARDAWAY?
LOL I'm never the greatest at talking, especially about myself personally it's not a skill that I have but I'll give it a shot. My name is Marcellus Ja'vonnie Cox II. I was Born December 14th, 1987 in Lynwood, California, grew up in South Central Los Angeles. A lot of my stories are ideas and stories of what my point of views of life has transpire growing up in a neighborhood where your most likely to either be Dead, In Jail or in Gang Life. I've always used these moments as a way to shape a real picture of reality with my work even if it's not the same subject matter. I just always want my work to fel as real as humanly possible.
I believe honestly in my heart what made me fall in love with Cinema was Cartoons. Cartoons have always played in huge part of my life even till this day. My first real love for Cinema was right around 10 years old with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the beautiful blend of Live Action/Animation in a Period Piece Film Noir setting was and still in Inspirational Filmmaking for me. After that I was completely hooked and just continued to study the craft of Filmmaking and Filmmakers who's work Inspired me and watch more work of the Filmmakers who Inspired them.
I've worked on Seven Short Films over the course of my Young Career, My Work has screened in over 200 International Film Festivals and have Won over 130 International Awards. And have Aired on Networks Such as: ShortsTV, Revolt TV, Crime/Investigation & PBS.
Which filmmakers influenced you and your filmmaking? Which films have affected you the most?
Okay! So I'm going to try and keep this as short as possible LOL because I can go on for days just on this Question along on who has influenced me the most. Because it's such a long, long, very long list Oh My God it's long LOL. But without Questions the Filmmakers who I felt has shaped my work the most are: Robert Altman, Stanley Kramer, John Huston, Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Federico Fellini, Orson Wells & Akira Kurosawa.
I have so many films that have helped shaped not only my work but my life as a whole. I love Movies no matter the Genre. Some of my personal favorites are: Taxi Driver, Chinatown, The Defiant Ones, The Hustler, Yojimbo, 8 1/2 and The Seventh Seal.
What are the themes/issues you try to reflect in your film(s)? What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a film?
For Mickey Hardaway the biggest theme I wanted to address and present to the audience is what happens when you shit on someones dreams and the consequences that come along with those actions that affects everyone around them. I wanted to tell a story about dreamers, who has something to offer to the world other then just the typical 9-5 living the average everyday life and the folks you continues to show no faith in them and tear their souls out of them in the process. Society has a problem with folks who dare to be different, this group that seems to suffer most of that hate are Artist. I also wanted to show a reflection to the world of the black community as well in certain moments that still shows the struggle for equality even in this time & day.
The Most Important Quality of this film, I would love to say my Direction, The Acting, or the fact that we even had enough money to make it at all lol. I personally feel it's the script. It's a very deep personal story that so many people can relate to and it just speaks to the soul and showcases pure honesty with it's message, it holds nothing back at all, that's the way I alway write and will always continue too.
Where did the idea for the film come from? How long did it take to get formed into what it is now?
I came up with this idea in 2005 around my Senior Year of High School and really continued to perfect it my Freshman Year of Film School when I had a Screenwriting Professior tell me it showed a lot of promise and potential. But I felt I wasn't ready to tell a story of this quality, my skills weren't sharp enough to pull this off so it mostly set in my Laptop for about 15-16 Years.
Around 2020 I was ready to make my first Feature and I had the budget to make it from a Production Company but Covid hit and they pulled out and I was back to squared one sort of speak. I met with my Producing Partner Armando Townsend and we both agree to do a Concept Short and play it on the festival circuit and build the word of mouth from there. So I took the little money I had from Paychecks and Armando funded the rest and we went and shoot it in the middle of the Black Lives Matter protest and Heart of Covid-19 in June 2020. Which was a mission of it's own lol.
What is your creative process when making a film? Starting from the scripts to the final stages of the post-production. Additionally, what is the style you follow when making films?
I don't think I have a styl I follow LOL but I do have a process. Even if it doesn't deal with my subject matter, before I write any Screenplay I watch Movies, Movies that means something to me, that matters to me, that takes a hold of me and pull me into the picture with them. It's the perect reminder of what a great film can be if you treat it with the love and respect that it requries. Afterwards I look at movies that has a strong cast to give me a idea of who I would like to have play my roles, just some sort of style who I feel will do these Characters justice and give them a life of their own. That's very important to me. I'm very careful with how I shape my Characters in the Script and who I invision to play them in the film. And then it's Production just like any other production LOL.
I've always said my favorite part of the Creative Process is Post-Production, Oh Lord I never get tired of Looking at Rough Cuts, your seeing the vision come to reality. it's to me the greatest feeling in the world shaping the footage into the story you imagine, then going into color, sound, music listing to a score that you watch certain parts of your film to and you know the moment it happens that's it. That's what I want and where I want it. It's such a great experience for me and I can never get bored with it.
What were the challenges that you faced when making Mickey HARDAWAY? Tell us about the production and your experiences of making the film.
Losing the funding for the Feature was rough, it was a really heart breaking feeling for a while but once I got the funds to make the Concept things begin to change for the better and trust me they did.
The biggest challenge for the Concept was really getting the cast together in the middle of Covid-19. I had Several Actors drop out including my Lead, But Lucky for me I was able to find my right guy in Rashad Hunter who took on the challenge and make Mickey who he is. That was hard too tho, because I cast him 2 weeks before shooting and I couldn't meet him because of Covid so we had to FaceTime with each other to go over the lines and view of Mickey and never really got the chance to really break it down till the day of shooting.
Working on the film with no set Guidelines from SAG-AFTRA or anybody else was difficult as hell LOL so me and on of my Producers Eric Quincy basically created are own set of rules, making sure each and every location was sprayed down before shooting, plenty of Gloves, Masks, kept Actors 6 Feet apart at all times till shooting begins. It was hard but we got it done and the film turned out amazing. I owe all of the success to my cast: Rashad Hunter, Stephen Cofield Jr, David Chattam, Charlz Williams & Deangelo Davis.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of independent filmmaking and working with small budgets? Does it liberate the filmmaker or limit his or her freedom?
This one is tricky because it seems like mostly everything is a Disadvantage with Independent Filmmaking especially when you have no budget lol. Your at the Mercy of God Himself, you just hope and pray he let's you get through the day with finishing the film LOL. The only real Advantage I would say just speaking for myself personally is that I got the chance to bring my vision to life. And that's all I need and care about.
Tell us about your festival run. Have film festivals provided you with the experience and exposure you needed?
Done that and more LOL it has lived up to everything I had hoped for and more. Mickey Hardaway as of today has been accepted into 81 Film Festivals, Winning 30 Awards and we still have a long way to go before it officially ends it's run at the end of 2021. The Film has aired on ShortsTV FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT, Revolt TV's SHORT & FRESH, TV Series African American Short Film and in August will be airing on the new Series Short Form on Link TV.
It has given me the exposure and more and because of it, it's lead to me having the chance to work with a great production company to bring the Feature Version to life.
What was the reaction of those who watched your film? Was the feedback what you hoped for?
The Recation has been Amazing, I honestly wasn't sure what to think, giving the fact that the subject matter is so dark it can go either way with the audience but Man!!!!! The reaction has shocked me so much I can't believe have of the comments I get from folks and what they think. The feedback just really gave me all of the confidence in the world to get the feature version done and ready to present to the rest of the world. I'm beyond ready to get it on the big screen.
Please tell us about your future project(s).
July 26th I Will be dropping a We Funder Campaign to raise 100K for the Feature Version of Mickey Hardaway, which I hope to begin shooting either late December 2021 or early January 2022. You can find out more details for sure at Instagram.com/cellusworld24 or Facebook.com/marcelluscox24
Afterwards I will begin to work on my 2nd Feature Film JEFFERSON STREET. It's a Crime Thriller Period Piece set in 1951 about a Black Detective from Detroit who travels down to East Texas, Investigating the murder of his Mother at the Hands of the Ku Klux Klan.