“The only thing you need to make a film is to not be afraid of anybody or anything. Too many of our people are waiting for something to drop into their laps – waiting for some hero, leader or savior to rescue them. That ain’t gonna happen. We have to save us. We have to create our own opportunities.” –Spike Lee
This past weekend, Mulafilms held a premier for their latest offering, “Five-O”. Filmed entirely in the city of Detroit and directed by Derek Scott, “Five-O” tells the story of Officer Len played by Thomas L. Harris and Officer JP played Martel lane — two inner city police officers living on the wrong side of the law. It almost feels like a twisted version of Antoine Fuqua’s blockbuster “Training Day” where Denzel Washington played crooked LAPD homicide detective, Alonzo Harris. If Alonzo was dirty then Officer JP is filthy. Often times JP actions/decisions caused people in the audience to shout out to the screen in disbelief because he was just that grimy. Played convincingly by Martel Lane (2eleven, Buffed Up) the crookedest of crooked cops Officer JP has no love or loyalty to anyone but himself. He will stop at nothing o get what he wants and to cover his trail even murder.
“It took a lot to get into this character. He was in such a dark place and that’s not like me at all. Seeing it for the first time tonight was crazy I was watching it like that guy (JP) is nuts,” said Lane.
Thomas L. Harris plays officer Len who unlike the “Jake” character in training day is crooked like his partner but he tends to be more rational where as JP–just isn’t. Harris does a great job of making Len likeable we didn’t really mind him being on the take because he was trying to get money for his sons operation. Upon getting the green light from their Sergeant (Chamar Avery) to use more aggressive crime fighting tactics things began to get real. It doesn’t take long before things go sour, as they are never able to fully satisfy their needs.
We worked really hard on this film and for me getting into this character was challenging but that’s what acting is about. I wanted to show that my character was a desperate man but still a decent man whereas his partner JP was just a hot headed psycho. It was interesting to show that balance and how they really became dependent on each other,” said Harris.
I personally enjoyed this film and the fact that there are consequences for every action taken in the film. It really drove home the point that, you are at the mercy of your decisions and will reap what you sow, good or bad.
I would recommend that people see the movie for a number of reasons: 1) in the genre of urban crime thriller this film is above decent quality. It is well written, directed, produced and acted. For those of you who feel that the story is another hood movie but and you are partially right. However, I implore you to look beyond that. One should understand that you are seeing a film my made by a team of young black filmmakers and actors. If for no other reason, support this film so that we can see more from Mulafilms and companies that look like them.
Everyone has to start somewhere and this production company is made up of young urban creative types that hail from the east and west side of the city and unfortunately the imagery depicted in these films are often times a result of art imitating life. “These are the stories we know and these are the stories that came more organic for us. But as we develop we are pushing past comfort levels to develop more stories from a different point of view, said the elusive Terrence Parker, co-founder of Mulafilms.
So who exactly is Mulafilms? Mulafilms is a Detroit based production company started in Detroit by Detroiters Terrance Parker and brother Joseph McFashion. Parker began as a music producer. However upon noticing a void of creative, high quality yet affordable music videos for local artists, he teamed up with Chamar Avery to start producing music videos. He started this journey by studying Detroit cinematography legends like Darren Brown, Al Profit, and Little J.
“I just saw a need and worked to fill it. Eventually I decided to transition to film and that’s when I met Jasmine Barnes, owner of Nelson McQueen and we began to collaborate”
Barnes and Parker had instant creative chemistry and began their journey to creating a cinematic movie within the city of Detroit.
“People think they have to leave Detroit to make films or to act and we’re living proof that that is not the case. I want the kids in Detroit to know that you have to start where you are and use what you have. Do that and I guarantee you’ll get further than the person who waited on ‘Hollywood’ to give them a shot,” said Barnes.
Mulafilms is definitely practicing what they preached as they have just packed the Star Southfield theater for the premier of their latest film, “Five-O”. This is the third film to be released by Mulafilms following underground hit, “Buffed Up” and first film, “2Eleven”. The company is like a tightknit family and don’t be surprised to see some of the same faces across the films but don’t think for a second that the roles are just given to the actors.
“We still have to audition. We still have to make it known that we are interested in the role and we audition and wait to hear back,” said Harris.
Mulafilms is a proponent of keeping it in the family as they have hired 22-yr old Kenneth Scott, founder of Detroit Cinema to provide sound and cinematography services. Scott started as an intern on the set of “2Elelven” when he was 19 years old.
“I just started hanging around the right people and thy encouraged me to take my passions more seriously. I decided to try interning and one thing lead to another and now I’m here,” said Scott.
Companies like Mulafilms and Detroit Cinema are the nucleus of the burgeoning film industry within Detroit. They provide access to film and production opportunities that many in the inner city would not have access too.
If you were to take a look at Mula’s productions they are chockablock with hood star cameos from the likes of Detroit Che, Sino, Murda Pain, Dex Osama, KC Clark, Kash Doll, DJ BJ 3525, Icewear Vezzo, just to name a few.
Joseph McFashion says, “every time we do a film the interest gets bigger and bigger. SO many local entertainers approach me and say Why wasn’t I in the film. I have to tell them I didn’t know you wanted to be in it. We have casting calls that we announce on Instagram and Facebook and if anyone is interested they can just contact us when we put out the casting calls. We are always looking for actors. “
I advise everyone whos interested in the flim and production area to keep up with Mulafilms. They’ve already completed four independent films with a production staff of 7. Their continuous growth and commitment to their vision despite limited resources is definitely a source of pride for the company as Parker points out.
“We are Detroiters and we’re used to grinding and using scraps to make a full meal. This is what we do and will continue to do. The budgets will get bigger, the profits will increase and so will our work ethic. What we won’t do is stop”
Stay tuned for Mulafilms next film Plug Love, scheduled to be released in the fall of 2016.
When asked what we the people of Detroit can do for Mulafilms, producer Jasmine Barnes said, “We need people to do what the Michigan Chronicle is doing now, shining the light on the movement we have here in the City of Detroit. Not only focusing on the story lines but our dedication to the City of Detroit. We have a Teen internship program called Mulateens and our teen interns are intricate facets of our production process. Our “Five-O” production manager, Imani Small, is currently a freshman at Howard University. We have another Mulateen at MSU, one on the way to MSU and another on her way to Xavier University. We are not only making movies, we are impacting lives.