*We caught up with filmmaker director Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. (Born With It) to dish about his directorial feature debut “Black Box,” which is part of Blumhouse Television and Amazon Studios horror/thriller movie anthology “Welcome to the Blumhouse.”
The first four of the eight-film in the series are now streaming on the platform, including The Lie, Evil Eye and Nocturne, and the titles arrive just in time for Halloween!
“Black Box” stars stars Mamoudou Athie (Jurassic World 3, The Circle) and veteran actress Phylicia Rashad and centers on a single father who loses his wife and his memory in a car accident, and he undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is.
Osei-Kuffour tells EUR in our exclusive interview that he hopes this tale starts a conversation about parenthood, and just how far you’ll go to protect your family. Check out our Q&A with the filmmaker below.
Phylicia Rashad is simply brilliant in this film. Was she your first choice to play the doctor?
Emmanuel: I never thought she would say yes. When you have a list of actors that you think could play this role, she was at the top of my list. It actually took Jay Ellis, who is one of the EPs on this project and really fought for me to get this job. He was the one that said, “You should write her a letter and see if she’d be interested in doing the film.” That’s how she came on board. I was really humbled that she loved the script and thought it was really smart. We had a really collaborative relationship. She was really humble and kind and just really sweet and just brought the best out of everybody on set.
What’s been most rewarding about this journey of taking the script to production to having it produced by Blumhouse and now it’s streaming on Amazon?
Emmanuel: I would say the thing that was most rewarding for me was just getting the chance to work with such a phenomenal cast. They say that directing is 50% casting. I think I got really lucky that all of my top choices for the most part were cast in this film. Everybody on this project was incredible. That’s the thing that kept me going every morning, every single day of the day to day shoot, and it really shows on screen.
As your debut feature, was there anything particularly challenging about bringing theses characters to life?
Emmanuel: Yeah. Yeah. This was a feature film. It was my first feature film. That was a challenge in and of itself, just getting used to the stamina needed to go 18 days. But also, it’s a feature film with a very limited amount of time. 18 days is a pretty limited amount of time when you think in terms of the time it takes to shoot a feature film. This film is, as you saw, it’s character driven, it’s elevated. On top of all this, it’s a psychological thriller/Sci-Fi. There’s a lot of moving parts. There’s a lot of character-driven moments that you really have to mind and, you have to do all this in a very, very, very limited amount of time.
I think that was the most challenging part. I spent about eight years living in Asia doing short films with an extremely micro budget, with very, very little time. Doing that and also doing the commercials for the past two years and working under time constraints has always forced me to prioritize shots that are absolutely necessary to get an emotionally impactful scene. That’s kind of what I leaned on every single day of the shoot when I had to cut shots or adjust on the fly. Yeah. I think the time was probably the most challenging.
Does this film add to the conversation about how medical advancements and technology is shifting and shaping the evolution of humankind?
Emmanuel: I’m not a futurist and to be honest, I’ve had that question come to me before. I was more interested in relationships and Nolan’s desperation to get better for his daughter, Lillian’s devotion to Nolan, and the reasons as to why she cares so much about his recovery. That was the focus for me. I wasn’t really trying to comment on the future of technology or even comment on the doctor-patient relationship and the breach of that. I wasn’t trying to comment on the doctor-patient relationship in any way, and I’m not trying to spoil the film as well.
I say all that to say that when I was trying to figure out how to bring the Black Box to life, I did want to use technology that felt grounded and felt like they could exist today. EEGs, which is the Net that Nolan uses in the film that Dr. Brooks puts on his head for every session, that’s a real life device. Obviously virtual reality is a big thing now. There’s technology out there. There’s research in various universities across the world. There’s a lot of research being done to transform brainwaves into images and into video. There’s technology that literally exists right now that can read your brainwaves and project an image or a video of what you’re thinking at that moment. If that technology exists right now, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to imagine that the technology of the Black Box could exist some time in the future.
If you could use a Black Box to communicate with a dead loved one, would you?
Emmanuel: I think that when you let go of people, there’s the psychological closure that happens and you never have closure.
What’s at the heartbeat of the Black Box story? What are some of the social themes embedded in this narrative?
Emmanuel: There’s a few things. Ultimately, this is a story about memory and identity. It’s about memory and identity in the aftermath of tragedy and how memories can get distorted or identity can get distorted and so forth. It’s also about the parent-child relationship on many levels. As people see the film, they’ll realize the bond between Nolan and his daughter, but also the bond between other people, all the parent-child relationships if you’ve seen the film. Again, I don’t want to spoil. I think the heart of this film is really a story of a deeply flawed man that gets a second chance to be a better father and is pushed to be that person as a result of his child.
That’s the theme that really spoke to me when I was thinking about how to rewrite this story. It’s something personal to me, and it’s something that I’ve seen happen to friends and loved ones in my own life. There’s something magical that happens when you have a child and suddenly, you’re pushed to be the best version of yourself. It’s ultimately about being a good parent and the sacrifices that you’ll make for your child.
The actor that played the Backwards Man, Troy James, were visual effects or any special costume design required to film him, or was his flexibility all natural?
Emmanuel: No, all practical. He’s all practical. One of the EPs, Lisa Bruce, she’s an incredible EP. She’s fundamental in the development of the script and just the journey of this whole system. She found Troy on America’s Got Talent. He did a lot of things that I wrote in the script naturally. He’s incredible to work with and a really sweet, sweet, loving guy.
Lastly, what do you hope viewers are left thinking or talking about after they watch Black Box?
Emmanuel: The sacrifices that you make for your child. I hope it starts a conversation about parenthood. It just shows how far you’ll go to protect your family. It’s specifically the sacrifices you’ll make to make life better for your child.
THE REAL: Kim Coles On A ‘Living Single’ Reboot + More from the Ladies!
*On Thursday, October 22, the ladies discuss the proper way to let a friend know you don’t care for her significant other.
Co-host Garcelle Beauvais wants to be told if her friends don’t like her boo. Co-host Loni Love claims that she would keep her opinion to herself and let her friend find out on her own if he isn’t all that! She also reveals that her friends actually like her boyfriend James more than they like her! Co-host Adrienne Houghton confesses that her husband Israel is much better at maintaining friendships than she is.
And, during these difficult times of living during a pandemic, Loni encourages people to keep a journal about their lives while in quarantine. She suggests that future generations could learn from our experiences, especially from people of color.
Later, funny lady Kim Coles pops in to chat about her series In the Cut, the possibility of a Living Single reboot, and the text chain that she still shares with her former costars even after the show went off the air over 20 years ago.
Which Of the Ladies Would Confess If They Don’t Like Their Co-Hosts’ Significant Others?
Adrienne’s Husband Israel is Better at Maintaining Friendships Than She Is!
Loni Thinks It’s Important That We Write Our Stories, Especially During COVID.
Will Living Single Get A Reboot? Kim Coles Has The Scoop!
Which Of the Ladies Would Confess If They Don’t Like Their Co-Hosts’ Significant Others?
Garcelle Beauvais: My last relationship, I found out after I broke up with him, that nobody liked him for me. And, I wish, personally, that they had said it to me. I wish they had said it to me earlier. So, I don’t know if I would listen to that.
Loni Love: You gotta find out for yourself. Huh-uh.
Garcelle: Really? You wouldn’t tell me, Loni?
Loni: Huh-uh. (Wags her finger) There’s some things that I don’t get into.
Jeannie Mai: See? I’m the opposite, Garcelle. I would have to say something. But, I would have to say it like this. I would say, “Garcelle, what I’m about to tell you, I’m telling you as your du– as your friend, it is my responsibility to keep it trill with you and also always look out for you as I want you to do for me. I’m doing what I want you to do for me. This should not change our relationship. I’m not gonna change the way I am. I’m just always gonna have my eyes here.” (Points at her eyes and then at the camera.) “But, this is what I’m about to tell you. Your man sucks.”
Garcelle: I’d rather hear that. I’d rather hear that.
(Loni & Jeannie laugh)
Jeannie: See? I would tell you.
Garcelle: I’d rather hear that.
Loni: No, I’m gonna let you find out ‘cause I’m gonna be like– I’m gonna be like, “Is it good, girl? Okay. I know you’ll get out of it when you need to get out of it.” That’s it.
Garcelle: (Laughs) There’s that.
About THE REAL
THE REAL is a live daily, one-hour, two-time NAACP Image Award-winning and Emmy®-nominated talk show now in its seventh season on Fox Television Stations and in national syndication (check local listings), with a rebroadcast on cable network Bounce. The bold, diverse and outspoken hosts, Garcelle Beauvais and Emmy® Award-winners Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love and Jeannie Mai, all frankly say what women are actually thinking. Their unique perspectives are brought to life through candid conversations about their personal lives, current events, beauty, fashion and relationships (nothing is off limits). Unlike other talk shows, THE REAL hosts are admittedly a “work in progress,” and fearlessly invite viewers to reflect on their own lives and opinions. Fresh points of view, youthful energy and passion have made THE REAL a platform for multicultural women. Produced by Telepictures Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, THE REAL is led by Executive Producer, Rachel Miskowiec (Good Morning America, Katie, The Tyra Banks Show, Judge Hatchett, The Ricki Lake Show) and Co-Executive Producer Tenia Watson (Judge Mathis, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, WGN-TV Morning News, Just Keke, The Test) and shot in Los Angeles, California.
Audible Joins Forces with LeBron James for Multi-Project Deal
*LeBron James‘ SpringHill Company has inked a multi-project deal with Audible, focused on producing culturally influential audio content.
According to the press release, the multi-project slate kicks off with More Than A Vote: Our Voices. Our Vote. The first-of-its-kind special, produced in collaboration with Cadence 13, will launch in support of the More Than A Vote initiative, a new voting rights organization led by a coalition of Black athletes and artists including James aimed at combating voter suppression and misinformation that disproportionately disenfranchises communities of color. More Than A Vote is available for pre-order today at Audible.com/morethanavote, and will premiere on October 27th for free within the Audible Premium Plus catalog.
“Influential creators like LeBron, Maverick and the SpringHill team keep us motivated to continue creating storytelling experiences that spark critical conversations and cultivate change,” said Rachel Ghiazza, Executive Vice President, Head of US Content at Audible. “Joining forces with this fearless group, we strive to empower our millions of listeners and provide resources to elevate their voices, and what better way to start than with an inspiring Words + Music special to reinforce the mission of LeBron’s More Than A Vote initiative.”
— More Than A Vote (@morethanavote) October 15, 2020
Here’s more from the press release:
More Than A Vote: Our Voices. Our Vote., co-hosted by media and political analyst Tiffany D. Cross,offers an educational deep dive into the history and the truths of voting. Through storytelling, interviews, archival audio and song, the program will draw on the wisdom, humor, and talents of a remarkable group of entertainers, writers, public officials, athletes and artists including:
- Leon Bridges, Grammy-winning Artist
- LaTosha Brown, Co-Founder, Black Voters Matter
- Andra Day, Grammy-nominated Artist
- Addisu Demissie, Executive Director, More Than A Vote
- Rutha Mae Harris, Freedom Singer and Civil Rights Legend
- LeBron James, Co-Founder, More Than A Vote
- Martha S. Jones, Professor History, Johns Hopkins University
- Desmond Meade, President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
- Jalen Rose, ESPN Analyst and More Than A Vote Member
- Amanda Seales, Actress and Comedian
- Tommie Smith, Olympic Athlete
- Octavia Spencer, Oscar-winning Actress
- Maria Taylor, ESPN Analyst and More Than A Vote Member
The exclusive audio special will also incorporate facts about the electoral process and education around the very real threat that voter suppression poses to American democracy – specifically in African-American communities.
The More Than A Vote special will be part of Audible’s Words + Music, a growing collection of original audio productions combining storytelling and music, designed exclusively for Audible listeners.
For more information on this title, please visit Audible.com/morethanavote.
Gospel Duo Juan and Lisa Winans Hit Billboard’s Top Ten Gospel Airplay Chart With ‘It Belongs To Me’ Featuring Marvin L. Winans
*“It Belongs To Me” by gospel duo Juan and Lisa Winans featuring Marvin L. Winans has landed at No. 9 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart this week.
The couple’s first non-holiday track, released on Dare Records, marks their first time charting together as recording artists. “It Belongs To Me” is a beautifully rendered and timely message of faith and assurance, needed during the world’s current time of social and political unrest.
“Having ‘It Belongs To Me’ reach the top ten means that people are hearing the song, and that makes me proud and grateful because I truly believe this message of hope is a much needed one,” says Juan.
“It’s incredible to know that this declaration of faith and hope is reaching so many people,” adds Lisa. “We’re so grateful, and our prayer is that the listener would internalize this message and begin to sing, speak, and shout ‘It Belongs To Me’ over every area of their lives. God is able.”
Grammy-nominated recording artists and songwriters Juan and Lisa Winans are today’s millennial Christian couple. Juan, a third-generation member of the legendary Winans family, began his career as a member of Winans Phase 2, along with his eldest brother, Carvin, and his cousins Marvin Winans, Jr., and Michael Winans, Jr. The group’s first recording, We Got Next, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Album charts. Juan’s father, Carvin Winans, is a member of the five-time Grammy Award-winning group The Winans, which includes his uncles Marvin, Michael, and the late Ronald Winans. Juan also starred in the theatrical production of Born For This: The BeBe Winans Story,” written by his uncle BeBe Winans and also starring his sister, Deborah Joy Winans of the hit drama series, Greenleaf.
Lisa, formerly Lisa Kimmey, is best known as a member and lead songwriter of the chart-topping Contemporary Christian music trio Out of Eden with her sisters Andrea Kimmey-Baca and Danielle Kimmey Torrez. The group released seven career albums from 1994-2006 including the critically-acclaimed No Turning Back, This Is Your Life and Hymns. During Lisa’s tenure, she made a special guest appearance on the ‘90s hit sitcom, “Moesha,” which streaming giant Netflix recently added to its lineup of African American classics from the 1990s and early 2000s. She also was a host of original programming for the Gospel Music Channel and hosted the Verizon Wireless “How Sweet the Sound” choir competition along with Donald Lawrence.
For more information on Juan and Lisa Winans, go to www.juanandlisawinans.com.
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