Will Black's latest production is a series that explores a situation where a young girl who is a gun runner must make one last transaction before she can wash her hands of organized crime. Coming to VHX.TV this Friday.
Hannah Wright stars as Elizabeth, a gun runner who is tired of the business and must fight for her survival.
The series is being shot in Jackson, Tennessee and most of the cast and crew are from Tennessee. Cast includes Hanna Wright, Katie Pavao, Derek Conquest, Michael LaCour, Lantonio Jackson, Ali Merki, and Troy Compas."Will is genuine and that is the best part about working with him. He's open to ideas and flexible for everyone's comfortability. I'm not afraid to include my own opinion or ideas when we work together and he is happy to listen. Not to mention he takes good care of all of the cast on set. He makes sure we have food and water and actually cares about our comfort. You can really see his creativity come through within the script too. He's respectful to his cast and picked us according to personality to mesh well with the characters he wanted to come to life and he hit the nail on the head. Will has been a pleasure to work with. and will be in the future." - Hanna Wright - Actress
Hello Will, what have you been up to?
Will Black Things have been very busy but that's a good thing. I've been working on a new series, Good Luck. We're weeks away from putting out our first two episodes and everyone involved is really
excited. I was also fortunate enough to pull in two festival awards since the last time we talked,
you know for whatever that's worth.
What awards did you win? Were they for Lock and Roll?
Will Black They were. It got two from a NY festival and this past February a pilot I shot and directed took first down in Miami, fun stuff for sure. I have to say that I don't put a lot of stock into the whole
festival thing though, it's more or less just a side/fun thing. I think the value of selections and
awards and all that stuff has gotten significantly devalued in recent years there are just so
many of them and you really don't have to have any credibility to start one or create an award.
I've been a part of a sizeable handful of them though and while it's cool to get into a festival they
by no means should be an end all be all to your release plan. For me the name of the game is a
hardcore "hit the pavement and tell everyone you see" type thing. People don't buy your
movies/shows not because they don't like them but because they don't know about them. You
have to get out there and tell people. I also want to connect with fans, let them know we're
stoked that they have an interest, and give them engaging content. For instance, we don't have
the most popular Facebook page out there but we have an extremely high interaction rate with
our fans. There are pages for films out there 4 and 5 times bigger than ours and they fall short
of our interaction rate. I've been rambling on my soap box a bit so I'll stop now haha. Anyways,
the months that Good Luck was in development were great. Things have also been going
really well since we started filming at the beginning of the summer.
Is 'Good Luck' your newest project? What is it about?
Will Black It is. Good Luck is the result of developing something that I could look back on and say, "that was incredibly fun to make". It's about a young woman who's a criminal and she's running guns
to pay off a debt owed to another weapons dealer. Of course that's my 30,000 ft view but there
will be much more revealed in the story when it comes out.
Between each project you must have to shift shooting styles for the script. What goes
into finding the right style to capture the essence of the movie. Does it come quickly or
do you have to experiment a bit?
Will Black That's a great question. I'm going to start at the end and work my way back. There's not much experimenting involved. I've learned that a good cinematography scheme comes from intimate
knowledge of the script and paying attention to your director. Luckily for this I'm manning both of
those roles. I spend lots of time with the script and plan shots well in advance. I'll use unplanned
shots in a final edit if they end up being something I can't live without. But 99% of the time a
shot list or something like that is very involved. Having your scheme planned also makes your cast and crew feel more organized and comfortable, which I'm a big fan of. When considering a
shooting style before principal photography I always ask myself the following: "What's the best
way this can be shot so that the viewers absorption of the script is married to what they're
experiencing visually." Good Luck is a bit chaotic. Higher shutter speeds and aggressive
medium closeups will be our friends for this one. The work Paul Cameron did in Man on Fire is
some of my favorite of all time. I pulled lots of influence from him for Good Luck.
What about music? How do you approach the soundtrack? Do you have an idea early on
what you will need?
Will Black I'm a sucker for a great soundtrack just like many other people. For me the process of choosing music actually starts in the writing process most of time. As we are finalizing a piece of the script
I'll start thinking about music at the same time I'm visualizing shots. On my absolute best writing
days it sometimes happens all at once. I'll get an exciting idea for a piece of script and I'll be
blazing through my keyboard or notepad, I'll be thinking of camera movements that perfectly
relate to what I'm writing, and I'll get a song going in my head for it. Those are good days that
get me really energized and motivated. On some occasions music comes to me is while I'm
editing. But no matter what I do I always put the final edit through what I call the "morning after
test". This applies to everything, not only music. It might be midnight and as I'm watching what
we've edited I'm super happy and I think everything looks good, but you never really know
you're in love with it until you watch it later after you've taken a break and come back to watch it
cold. That's how I spend my mornings while we're in hotmode editing.
Tell us more about Good Luck.
Will Black Good Luck is a series that I've been really proud to construct and shoot. When it's all said and done our budget will clock in at an extremely small amount. Shooting a series like this for next to
nothing has been a challenge but it's working. I've seen single shorts that spend considerably
more and I sit there and wonder why it was so expensive. Producer Michael LaCour introduced
me to the ultra low budgets that Ed Burns made a few years back and it got me really excited
about planning a quality work around not much cash. I'm incredibly happy with the cast. Most of
the actors are non-union and they're incredible.
The entire series is being shot in Jackson, Tennessee
and most of the people involved are all Tennessee natives. Hannah Wright plays the leading role of
Elizabeth in the film. Hannah comes from the modeling world and has recently crossed over to
film, she's great.
Actress Katie Pavao also plays a significant part. She's actually a Southern California native and has a strong background in theater. Katie is a great actress but 10 years from now I see her
making her mark as a director, both film and theater, just something I sort of sense. Having her
onboard has been really beneficial as well.
A newer actor out of Nashville, Derek Conquest (yes that's his real name), has been really impressive too. We shot some scenes with him just recently and he's a tough guy. He and Hannah were doing a very brief fight scene and he just kept taking his falls. I really like guys like Derek. He can play his part well. I don't want a guy to show up that's supposed to play a hardened weapons dealer and then complain when they have to sweat or get a little bump or two. Derek is the opposite and he's awesome.
I have to give Michael LaCour props for that too haha. Michael also acts and it was fun to work with him
for the short time we had him.
Lantonio Jackson plays a very central role in the series and he's also from Tennessee.
Additionally, we have Aly Merki out of Nashville, Troy Compas out of Shreveport,
Louisiana, and others are on board as well.
Hannah, how did you arrive at this production? Tell me about your background.
Hannah Wright Well, my acting agency at the time was a scam, so I took it upon myself to look for work on my own more diligently. I found a casting call for a different show Will was casting for and I auditioned. I didn't get that role but Will said he'd stay in touch so I waited and luckily for me he had another project with a character I just fit perfectly and fell in love with.
How did you get started in acting?
Hannah Wright I've always wanted to be an actress. As a kid it's cute dream, but unrealistic for anyone where I'm from. I was a really shy, self conscious kid and I never thought I could get over stage fright. In the 8th grade I auditioned for an actors/models training program and loved it. After they got all of the money from my family they could I never heard from them again. So the idea of actually being an actor was pushed out of my head until I turned 19, and started modeling. I love modeling, but I really wanted to be an actor. I was never happier chasing something the way I chased acting. A few years went by and I decided that I had to take action and find my own way without depending on anyone to do it for me. I got over my stage fright and have never been more excited to be pursuing it
So I guess you act in the theatre as well as film. How did you get over your stage fright?
Hannah Wright There was never really an "ah ha" moment about dealing with the stage fright. I progressively became more confident through the years but I can say that my realization that stage fright was holding me back pushed me to try to overcome it. I used to cry before giving speeches in class and now I look forward to things like that. It's just knowing that something as little as stage fright could've kept me from accomplishing so much that I finally had enough of holding myself back
Tell us a little about your character in Good Luck. What's she like? What makes her tick?
Hannah Wright She's crazy. But tired. She's exhausted of everything she's been having to do and living this erratic, hardcore existence. She can come off as mean but it's for her own protection and she's been hurt enough to not care who's feelings are hurt in protecting herself. Her own safety makes her tick. Lies and betrayal piss her off and have all pushed her to fight for a change and overall, survival.
Will Black One thing I will add is that Hannah has written this character better than I ever could. I gave her a broad shell of sorts and she made Elizabeth out to be a great character.
Will, what is your directing style like? Do you use storyboards, directions from the script, or something else? Anything unusual about the way you work?
Will Black I've never thought about having a specific style. I guess you could say I'm a negotiator with final say. There have definitely been times when we've been working on something and an actor playing the part will come up with a great idea that's different than I had envisioned previously. I always welcome involvement from the cast. Storyboards have never been much help to me so I don't spend the time making them. The script is generally all I need to make cinematography decisions and acting decisions.
Good Luck's first two episodes are set to come out August 26th via VHX. Visit the sites below
to get more info.