Archives for July 2013

Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote (2013) Examiner.com Review

July 25, 2013  By: Rating for Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote: *****
Today, an amazing turnabout in independent film reviewing has me in a happy place.
Independent films are typically destined to either die on Youtube, or go all the way to the top in various distribution strategies, based on many different things from production, who you know, and we know the industry stories. However, tonight’s review is about a film that transcends the common expectations, due to the “Quality of ART” and brings a freshness to Cleveland, Ohio that only Hollywood films using our streets seem to bring. Sure, we have great local filmmakers across the board, and I have reviewed quite a few, along with other films from shore to shore of our great nation. I have even fell in love with quite a few of them. Let’s just say that as a filmmaker, myself, I have truly been humbled after watching this. I am inspired! “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” is a modern day Bonnie & Clyde meets gangster movie, set in Cleveland, Ohio. The streets are the banks, and the bad guys play down-right dirty. While there is a love element, the love for carrying positions of power, and the loyalties that come with it are the true seduction. Normally, gangster films all seem the same, but this takes on a completely other angle, and doesn’t focus on the typical glam, but rather the motive and personal strengths it takes to be a part of things so dark and explosive. This film shows the “leader’s story”, kind of like you get when you watch “Scarface”. Better yet, this shows it from a female perspective, and an underlying power it carries. Due to the extremely commercial nature of the screening and potential plans, I won’t be getting into much more on the subject matter and theme, only focusing on production, some acting, and turnout of the premiere event. This is a film by David C. Snyder, from Public Enemy fame. He wrote the screenplay based off the novel by Cleveland’s Own Stella Hall, directed, shot, and edited the film. There is nothing like being one with all elements of your craft. There were plenty more people who added to the entire production, but as usual, this isn’t about breaking down every component of this beautifully shot and edited masterpiece of what independent filmmaking should strive for. This is a HWIC Filmworks presents, with Cleveland Style Casting and Command Pictures. Executive Producer is John Delserone, with Producers Tina Hobbs and Deliska McGhee. Before I get to the top 3 actors, like I usually do, let’s get into production. As an indie reviewer who prefers to look for the good in productions, because anyone can be a critic, I typically come off like an ass-kisser. In this film’s case, you won’t see my head. In most indie films, I navigate around production stumbling blocks that I too have encountered over the years, but in this case the opposite is true. Cinematically speaking, the shots and image quality are perfect, even more than many Hollywood shoots, simply because of the angles and techniques David has mastered. I kept saying “wow” to myself as each shot quickly showed something new, and never seemed to stop delivering. The editing seems flawless and caters to both story, actors’ strengths, and the film’s intended aesthetics. This is what indie film should do. There is a chance this goes beyond being an indie film in many respects. Finally, someone has broken free from limitation. I could seriously write many articles on what this film has done right. Industry stress is released. This “MOVIE” is my unlikely therapy within an almost thankless and life-straining decade of indie film. Note: For those who think I’m heading down the path of non-objectivity, I don’t care what you think. You are reading this to read what I think. It is my column and I am speaking from the heart here. Sound was solid, and the best I’ve encountered on an indie film. From the recording, foley, and narration, and let’s not forget music that never got in the way of anything…we should all hope to have our productions sound as clear. Even the many gun shots in the film sounded far better than most films you rent, even though Hollywood has use of Skywalker sound to keep one step ahead. As far as visual effects go, blood from gun shot wounds looked pretty real, although it seemed every victim had blood in their mouth. The gun fights were decisively fierce and beautifully executed, taking you on a journey with the main character. I got a lot of “Pulp Fiction” type vibes from time to time, yet I know that a lot comes from somewhere else, perhaps where QT got some of his styles, as well. I almost feel like there’s some influence from the movie “Dead Presidents”, but that could just be me. Lighting was perfect, even in many of the dark night scenes. The acting was very professional, as a whole. The list goes on and on. Okay, enough about that. Let’s get involved on a few main characters. Forgive me for not listing all of them, but let’s get to it. Chariote Lowe, played by Phillia Thomas, is a college aimed girl who falls in love with the bad boy Ace, played by Hakeem Sharif. They are the dysfunctional duet you secretly cheer on. She starts off sweet, but is most definitely made of sterner stuff. He is your local up and coming gangster trying to live the life the way he wants to. Chariote’s mother Harriet, played by Melissa Thorne, has always been a prostitute, leaving Chariote’s raising up to Gram, played by Tami Swails. Phillia Thomas shows her acting dynamics through a transformation from girl to woman, while Thorne’s character had an equally tough position of playing a mother who is more of a daughter. Swails reminded me of the endearing actress portraying Martin Lawrence’s mother in “Nothing To Lose”, if you’ve ever watched that classic. I’ve got two words for Sharif’s acting… smooth and youthful. Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and Hollywood’s Tony King, make enjoyable appearances, as well. I asked David Snyder for his take on the overall turnout of the premiere. David said, “The premiere went great. We think there was around 600 people that showed spread across 5 theaters at the Solon Digiplex theater. The cast walked the red carpet at around 7 pm. Also in attendance were members of 2013 rock and roll hall of fame inductees Public Enemy, including leader Chuck D who plays DJ Jonny Specials in the picture. Also in attendance was the author of the novel on which the film was based, Cleveland’s own Stella Hall, and legendary character actor Tony King (Sparkle, The Godfather, The Toy) who plays Sly in our film. Response to the film was enthusiastically positive. At the after party Chuck D surprised everyone with a brief impromptu performance.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds fantastic, and after watching this film, I believe it is well-deserved. From story, cinematography, sound, and overall movie….David’s got it. Best, Kenny Article Source: http://www.examiner.com/review/swing-lowe-sweet-chariote-review

Local author’s book makes for a ‘Stella’ film

Thursday, 18 July 2013 11:25
By ReGINA “G STYL” CRAWFORD Contributing Writer Sleek.  Intelligent.  Powerful.  Fearless.  The black panther.  Author.  Playwright.  Model.  Fashion designer.  Homegrown.  Stella Hall. Better known on a first name only basis, Stella is the CEO of BlacPanther Publications. And, the same description used when talking about the jungle cat can also be used to describe this young woman who is making her mark on the world.  Her novel, “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” was adapted into a screenplay by Home Works Independent Cinema (HWIC) Filmworks and premiered at Solon Cinemas June 24. She also has a couple of other novels, as well as three stage plays under her belt. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Communication with a concentration in broadcasting, and as a model has been featured in national and local magazines, newspapers and billboards throughout Cleveland, as well as other major cities around the country.  So how did she become an author?  “My love was always in music and hip-hop; but getting older I needed to stay in an entertainment field,” said Stella on how she began writing. Two of her plays were produced in Atlanta, and the third play was produced here in Cleveland, which is how she became affiliated with HWIC Filmworks.  She was introduced to company heads by a mutual acquaintance. After being impressed with their work, she contracted them to film her third play for DVD release. She was not a part of the filmmaking process, so her first time seeing her work transferred from the page to the big screen was at the at the 2013 Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival (GCUFF).  “It was amazing because the way that [the director] shot the film, it was almost like Hollywood,” Stella said as she expressed her feelings on seeing the movie for the first time.  “I didn’t know what to honestly expect. So, what I saw, I thought it was amazing.”  Although the novel is fictional, it is loosely based on true life, and its transformation from the page to the screen was phenomenal and it seems as though a true partnership has been forged between Stella and HWIC. “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” had the audience looking forward to what HWIC will produce next. Stella self-published her first book, “A Bridge of No Return”, and then created BlacPanther Publications prior to publishing “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote.”  Her third novel, “Trio,” is already on the market, and she has three other novels in the works due to be released in the very near future.  Keep an eye out for those, and maybe some possible future movies from those novels. Even though she is currently only publishing her own work, she does have plans to publish others down the road. “Right now I’m only publishing my work, and that’s simply because I wanted to make sure that my name was out there so if I choose anyone it’s just like a Triple Crown or Cocktail or Zane,” said Stella about the path she’s chosen to take her company down.  “My people won’t have to suffer.  I will have the notoriety to get them through the door,” she added. Along with completing her upcoming novels, Stella is also working on an upcoming multi-city book tour.  Having already seen the movie, I can honestly say it’s a movie worth seeing.  However, if you can’t make the premier, you can get the latest movie updates on the web site www.swinglowemovie.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SwingLoweSweetChariote. You can keep up with Stella at her web site www.StellaHall.com or on her personal Facebook page www.facebook.com/stella.hall.92. Article Source: http://www.callandpost.com/index.php/entertainment/books/3473-local-authors-book-makes-for-a-stella-film

World premiere of film “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” at Digiplex Solon Cinema 16

By Sun News staff on June 20, 2013 at 7:32 AM, updated June 20, 2013 at 7:37 AM Digiplex Solon Cinema 16 will be rolling-out the red carpet June 24 for newly-inducted Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Public Enemy for the world premiere of Cleveland independent film “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote,” an emotionally charged urban drama based on a novel by Cleveland author Stella Hall. HWIC Filmworks, a Cleveland-based movie production company owned by cousins John Delserone and David C. Snyder, announced five theaters, including the Digiplex Solon Cinema 16, will play the 96-minute feature film simultaneously starting at 7 p.m. June 24, but red carpet festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. The movie release party will begin immediately after the film, next door at the TS Macklin Event Centre, 6200 Enterprise Parkway. Fans will get the chance to meet and greet with Public Enemy and the entire cast and crew at the release party. Snyder, has directed all of Public Enemy’s music videos since 2005 and has a close working relationship with the group. Because of that relationship they managed to get a theme song for the movie and have lead man, Chuck D, appear in the film. “Chuck and I have been working together on projects for years now and he always makes himself available for whatever I happen to be working on. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to call on a legend like that and have him enthusiastically contribute to our films,” Snyder said. The film is told from the perspective of a young African-American girl from inner-city Cleveland whose best friend is murdered two weeks before she’s set to graduate top of her class from high school. After this traumatic event, her life begins to take a major turn as she struggles with inner demons she never knew were there. The movie was predominantly shot in the city of Cleveland, with the exception of a few scenes in Euclid and University Heights. It’s only fitting that a movie that takes place in, was filmed at, and stars all-Cleveland talent should premiere in the Cleveland area,” Delserone said. Aside from the star, Phillia Thomas, other local talent in the cast includes rapper Ray Jr. and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones. Movie tickets are $15 and movie ticket plus release party tickets together are $25. Tickets are available at swinglowetickets.com or by calling 216-400-9555. There will be a limited quantity of tickets available at the door. The movie will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray June 25 at the movie’s official website, swinglowemovie.com, and Krush clothing store locations. Article Source: http://www.cleveland.com/solon/index.ssf/2013/06/world_premiere_of_film_swing_l.html

‘Made in Cleveland’ among films made in Cleveland

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013
Lights. Camera. Cleveland. Movie making has been happening a lot over the past few years with high-profile film crews picking Northeast Ohio to shoot big budget flicks such as “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” which has been filming the last few weeks However, the independent film scene is also alive in the Rock Hall City with numerous productions completed over the past year or so. Now the flicks are getting released, including the somewhat high-profile “Made in Cleveland” which had its local premiere June 13 in Euclid. “It’s nine stories about life, love and the pursuit of happiness,” said New Philadelphia native and Lakewood resident Eric Swinderman, the producer-director-writer of “Made in Cleveland.” “They range from funny and sad to quirky. Really, every emotion is captured with seven different directors and five different writers capturing a lot of different points of view.” Swinderman said that Shaker Heights native and Hollywood writer-director-actor David Wain was attached to the project early on but had to take a backseat once pre-production started. The movie was filmed in Cleveland between November 2011 and April 2012. “Made in Cleveland” features an ensemble cast of more than 150 actors, including Busy Philipps (“Cougar Town”) and Gillian Jacobs (“Community”), as well as local television anchors Leon Bibb (WEWS-TV 5) and Robin Swoboda (WKYC-TV 5). When describing the backbone of the movie, Swinderman said it revolves around the notion that Northeast Ohioans are a resilient bunch. “No matter what they face and what obstacles they have, they keep getting up,” Swinderman said. “When they get knocked down, they get up and move on with their lives and they don’t whine about it too much. They’re tough. And that’s kind of what this movie represents. All the characters in this movie face challenges, but they all get by them and move forward.” Moving forward with high expectations is the goal of 1031 Films LLC — the company Swinderman runs with Mark Pengryn. Already attached to “Made in Cleveland” is a national distributor, which is a major feat for an independent movie. “Made in Cleveland” began its regional run last June 21 at Atlas Cinemas’ five Ohio theaters, including Diamond Center 16 in Mentor, Eastgate 10 in Mayfield Heights, Great Lakes Stadium 16 in Mentor, Lakeshore 7 in Euclid and Midway Mall 8 in Elyria. “Our movie is a little movie, but our goals are the same as anybody else — to sell tickets and to get people to see it,” Swinderman said. That’s also the dream of filmmaker David C. Snyder, who was born in Youngstown, lived briefly in Euclid and now calls Pittsburgh home. His new movie “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” makes its world premiere June 24 at the Digiplex Solon Cinema 16, and will also be making the film festival rounds later this year. “It’s an urban crime drama at the heart of it,” said Snyder, whose past credits include other features and music videos (Public Enemy). “There are some clichés and stereotypes. We tried to work within those realms but give it a new twist. There are some things you don’t see coming. It’s not your run-of-the-mill urban crime drama movie.” Considering Snyder’s ties to Public Enemy, he reached out to the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees to contribute the song “How Lowe?” to the movie. Even glitzier is the fact the group will be walking the red carpet at the premiere. “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” is actually adapted from a self-published book of the same title by Cleveland author Stella Hall. The movie, which includes local talent such as rapper Ray Jr. and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, was shot last fall, predominantly in Cleveland. Recognizable landmarks include the old Big “Q” Furniture Store on East 55th Street and Woodland Avenue, CMHA’s Outhwaite Homes and Harvard Wine and Grille. “Casting the bulk of actors from the area, the dialogue has that Cleveland flavor,” Snyder said. “It sounds authentic and looks authentic because of our locations.” One location that wasn’t used was the Shoreway, which wreaked havoc with drivers for two weeks earlier this month when it was closed for the filming of “Captain America.” Even though Snyder’s movie wasn’t big enough to close an entire lakeshore throughway, the adventurous director’s comments about the idea provide insight into his style and in a bigger way “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote.” “I came up doing music videos, so the artists I work with appreciate the fact that I can improvise at the moment and just kind of make it up as I go,” Snyder said. “I’m used to shooting guerilla style. And if I really wanted to use the Shoreway I would have figured out a way to do it.” Article Source: http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2013/06/21/life/doc51c467e9a7793196035353.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote (2013) Rogue Cinema Review

Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote (2013) – By Brian Morton Posted on Monday, June 03, 2013
 
  We’ve all seen the ‘good kid gone bad’ movie, but when it’s done well, it’s something that I can always sit through. Well, HWIC’s new movie, Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote is that kind of movie. Chariote is a good kid who’s nearly done with high school and is looking forward to going to college. But, when one of her friends is killed, she feels that she needs some revenge. So, she begins hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd’ and discovers that, when it comes to killing people, she’s pretty good at it. And so, Chariote starts down a path that could (and will) ultimately lead to no good. Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote is one of the best indie movies I’ve seen this year. It’s filled with heart and has a great message, and delivers it in a way that isn’t ham fisted. It’s a movie with a message for kids that kids might actually watch! The acting is great, the story is fantastic and it’s just a great overall production. I felt like I was watching a piece of life from the rough streets of Cleveland. I’m giving Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote 4 out of 4 cigars, it’s a fantastic movie and, if you have the chance to see it, TAKE IT!!! Find out more by heading over to http://www.hwicfilm.com, or visit the film’s website at http://www.swinglowemovie.com. Article Source: http://www.roguecinema.com/article3770.html

Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote (2013) Ryan’s Reviews

May 25, 2013 by D. Ryan Mowery from Ryan’s Reviews Description (from swinglowemovie.com): East Tech high school’s valedictorian, Chariote Lowe, witnesses the unthinkable on the eve of her graduation: the cold blooded murder of her best friend Shannon. The shock of this horrible event splits her psyche between trying to maintain the positive environment in which her grandmother tried to provide for her and the dangers that await her in the rough Cleveland streets. To complicate matters further, Chariote finds herself attracted to Ace, a thriving local drug dealer, who introduces her to the violent realities of the hood. Major Cast: Phillia Thomas as Chariote Lowe, Hakeem Sharif as Ace, Melissa Thorne as Harriet, Tammi Swails as Gram, Rayshon Bonum as Snapp, Chanel Lewis as Lilly, Khadiyah Brackins as Simone, Troy Harris as Kush, Chuck D as DJ Jonny Specials Written and Directed by David C. Snyder Pretty much any movie that is about “the high school valedictorian on the mean streets” you just know is not going to end well. They never do. However, having seen David C. Snyder’s previews two films THE QUIET ARRANGEMENT and DARK OF WINTER (reviews here), I knew SWING LOWE SWEET CHARIOTE wouldn’t be that simple of a tale. Snyder just doesn’t do “simple.” SLSC starts out kinda what you’d expect; Chariote is a high school girl and along with her two BFFs she has just graduated. She lives with her grandmother, because her mother is a crazy (literally) prostitute, so she has the hard-knock life background you’d expect for the gritty urban street drama protagonist. She’s kept her head high, and stayed out of that life, and along with her two besties has graduated while avoiding being a part of the streets. Not that the streets don’t try; Ace (a local all around bad guy), is really digging on Chariote and continually tries to get her attention and affection, but she has the willpower to stay out. She had the willpower, that is, until one of the trinity is murdered, and Ace jumps in on the weak point in Chariote’s life. Thus begins the downward spiral you know is inevitable in this sort of film, and then shit gets violent. So yes, the description I just gave could be one of a thousand crime drama films. What makes SLSC stand out from the slew of low budget, direct to video, directed by a rapper urban crime films? Well, first off, Snyder is an emcee too, so it’s not that! SLSC has a lot of pros that raise it well above the average let’s-take-advatage-of-a-few-rappers-names-and-make-a-violent-crime-movie trope. The story is good, but it’s not leaps and bounds beyond other crime films. It does have some nice twists – especially when you see Chariote start to go from being the innocent kid that was wrapped up in something bigger than she meant to be to really accepting her new role as a gangsta and embracing it – and it does have some good drama, romance, and even some laughs here and there (though they are few and far between). The acting is mostly hit with some misses, with the major roles of Chariote and Ace being extremely well portrayed and completely believable, the majority of the secondary cast being strong as well (the BFFs, Snapp, Harriet, etc.) while some of the lesser roles (I’m looking at you Gram) not living up to the bar the major players set. What Snyder does so well is to immerse you in the story in a way that feels so natural. SLSC is a Cleveland movie, written by a Cleveland author, shot on the streets of Cleveland, and helmed by Cleveland talent. There is no artifice in the film, it all feels very true; it’s not documentary style or anything, but it doesn’t feel like there was a lot of stretching for the film to portray something that could really happen. Sure, there are bits that get to be a bit over the top (like the nightclub meeting/ambush), but they serve to play up the drama. This isn’t a documentary, so I expect that there would need to be some suspension of disbelief, but I didn’t have to suspend much, for the most part I felt like if it had opened with “Based on a True Story” I probably wouldn’t question it too much. SLSC also is very impressive in its production values, something that I have been impressed with on all of Snyder’s films. I don’t know how much SLSC cost to make, but I know from talking with Dave that it cost a lot less than it looks like! Other than the fact that SLSC stars just about no one you’ve ever heard of (with the exception of a cameo performance by Chuck D, which is becoming one of Snyder’s signatures), SLSC could be mistaken for a big-budget feature. The camera is crisp and clean, and Snyder’s camera work always impresses. He has a way to keep the camera moving and interesting to the eye without going over-the-top, unless the scene calls for that excess. Some directors at this budget level will go with just putting a camera on a tripod and letting a scene play out, and others will go as far to the other end of the spectrum, and feel like every shot must have sweeping movements and skewed angles and 360 degree rotations; Snyder does a masterful job of finding that balance in-between. I would love to see a Blu-Ray release of this film, because I have a feeling that it was shot in HD and would look even more beautiful. Beyond just the production values of the visuals, Snyder also takes the time to make sure that there is good audio recording (a step missed by so many filmmakers, including myself on my feature), good foley work, and being a music producer/emcee that is in cahoots with Public Enemy, you know he has access to a good soundtrack. The cons on SLSC are few. I mentioned a few before; the story is interesting but not unheard before for sure, and the acting on some of the smaller roles lacks the emotional impact and realism that the major players convey. There are also some issues where I got a bit lost between scenes, almost as if there was something in there that got cut that should not have been; there are times where it seems the story advances and I felt a bit left behind. SLSC does have a bit of the generic urban drama to it; there are drugs and prostitutes and a lot of violence, but it tries and mostly succeeds to rise above that generality. Overall, I greatly enjoyed SLSC. It is a heavy, hard hitting urban drama that packs a large emotional impact. I really love that it is a move that starts at the end, so you think you know the resolution to the story, and then still manages to make the end ambiguous! I don’t think I’ve seen a film manage to do that as effectively as SLSC does, for sure not at this budget level. SLSC is a tribute to Cleveland; not to the good things about Cleveland, no, but it is a film that takes a city that is not known for being a place to make movies, and makes it into a one-stop shop from the first word to the premiere. This is another strong film from Snyder, who seems to just be getting better and better, and makes me really excited to see whatever he does next. Even if it’s a European art film, I’m still gonna watch anything this man makes. Overall 8 / 10 SLSC on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2915412/ SLSC is not for sale yet. SLSC site: http://swinglowemovie.com Article Source: http://lownobudgetreviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/swing-lowe-sweet-chariote-2013/