In case you’re just joining us, here’s a recap: I’m calling it our Filmmaker Diary Series. Essentially, filmmakers who are about to embark on projects (in this case, feature film projects specifically) will be given space on this site to document their journey, from script to screen, diary/journal style. That’s about it, in brief. But I think you get the overall picture.
It’ll be a weekly series, and, to start, Matthew Cherry, who was 1 of several filmmakers on our 2011/2012 Black Filmmakers To Watch list (HERE if you missed it), has agreed to kick things off. Matthew (whose resume includes directing music videos for the likes of Kindred The Family Soul, Common, Bilal and others, plus a short film titled This Time, starring Reagan Gomez, which played successfully on the film festival circuit) is currently in pre-production for his feature film debut, titled, The Last Fall.
In episode 1, Matthew talked at length about his pre-production/fund-raising process (click HERE to read that entry if you missed it); as of episode 2, last week, the project was fully funded, and casting had begun, all of which Matthew talked about (read that HERE); and in today’s entry, which will be his most personal yet, Matthew remembers his mother, who very sadly passed away over the weekend, and how that has affected his will and determination to continue on with a project he’s been writing about here for the last 2 weeks. He also touches a bit on his current casting efforts. Here’s entry number 3 in this inaugural Filmmaker Diary series from Matthew Cherry, in his own words (the picture above was provided by Matthew, by the way):
REST IN PEACE:
This past week has been a hard one. On Sunday morning I was laying in the bed and suddenly around 7:30 in the morning all of my family members called me one by one to inform me that my mom, Diana Marie Cherry, had passed away. In a way it still hasn’t hit me yet. I live in LA and it took me a couple of days to get back and by the time I returned they wouldn’t let me see the body. My mother always said that when she passed that she wanted to be cremated, so tomorrow, at her funeral is going to be the first time that I will see a part of her and reality will really set in. It’s gonna be a hard day for sure but I have to be strong for my family, she would have wanted it that way.
My mother was one of the strongest people I know. On the outside she might have come across cold and uninviting, but to the people that know her best they know that her love was about action, not words. We didn’t talk everyday and looking back that is probably one of the things that I regret most because if we did then maybe I would have known something was wrong. One of the main issues with my family is that we are all extremely pridefully and we don’t like asking for help. Apparently my mom was experiencing headaches lately and she passed away due to a brain aneurysm which was likely caused by high blood pressure. It’ hard not to think that maybe I might have contributed to her condition as I was always calling and stressing her out, like most children who live in LA have to do to survive in this business, with money issues and other things. The more I think about it, if I ever needed something she would always give me a hard time about it but she would always come through in the clutch. She was 100% about her word and that’s one of the things that I will miss about her the most. One of the main things that I will regret is that I wasn’t able to retire her from her job or buy her a house. She worked at the same job for 33 years as a legal secretary. Another main regret that I have is that I wasn’t able to make her a grandmother. Whatever woman I end up with is going to have a high bar to pass because my mother was one a kind, funny, beautiful and dependable. I had a heightened sense of urgency this year and I thought it was because I was turning 30 in December but I guess it was because time was slipping away from her. It’s ironic that this happened when it did because the script that I just wrote “The Last Fall” is about her in a lot of ways. It was inspired by my true story, so now it takes on an entire new meaning. It sucks but really all I have to look forward to now is my work and I just want to do well in it because I know that she always wanted her kids to be successful. She is my angel investor for real now and I miss her more than words can say. I love you mom, rest in peace.
This week was hard for me for obvious reasons. My casting director, Michelle Adams, sent our breakdown out to Actors Access and Breakdown Express on Tuesday. This was first time dealing with SAG on a project so I was extremely curious as to what the feedback was going to be like. While I have done a few things, I haven’t done a feature, and I decided to include the full script in the breakdown instead of sides so if it stinks it will negatively affect my chances of getting some name talent to come into audition because apparently all of the agencies “cover” the scripts that appear on the breakdowns to deem them worthy of submitting their clients. Michelle Adams has been really amazing this week. I had to go back to Chicago but she has held me down in a major way in LA. Yesterday I viewed some of the submissions and it was amazing. Most of black hollywood was sitting right there in my inbox and to think I was stressing about sending offers out. One of my actor friends was right, he said that if your script is strong enough then they will come to you. I only viewed the submissions for my male leads, “Kyle” and “Rell” but I would assume that the submissions for “Faith” are similar. At the end of the day actors want to work and there are not a lot of leading opportunities for African Americans in this business. We will start pre-screening people on Monday and when I return to LA on Wednesday we will start casting for real. I want to lock down my cast within the next couple weeks, that way it will give me four weeks to do what I need to do before we start shooting. I also reached out to a few veteran actors to play the “dads” in my movie and they both responded. We attached one of them yesterday and the other responded to me this morning. If I am able to attach them both then they will add a huge level of credibility to my project. I reached out to one of them via Facebook so never underestimate the power of social networking, ever.
I am also still waiting to hear back from the main “name” actor that we sent an offer out to a few weeks ago. With this situation happening with my mom he gave me space but I reached out to him yesterday in an email letting him know that it was business as usual and that I need to hear something if he is interested. Even if he is not I will be just fine, I have some amazing options now with both name and new faces. This movie is bigger than just one actor now more than ever so I would be glad to have you but I do not plan on losing any sleep over it if we don’t get him.
I was supposed to be shooting a music video last week for Kindred The Family Soul but I had to push it back to next Friday. I know I might be crazy for hopping back into work so quick but I need this to stay sane. I want to add a rest in peace slate for my mom at the end of the video when it starts airing on TV. I hope they let me do it.
That was really all that happened with the project this week. I just want to encourage you to let your people know that you love them ever single day because you truly will not know when it might be the last time you get a chance to talk with them. I wrote my mom an email this past Friday and in it I told her I loved her and appreciated her financial support when times got hard for me. It wasn’t a phone call but she emailed me back so I know she at least read it. Tomorrow is my mothers funeral so I just want to say that, I love you mom and through this movie I fully plan on honoring your legacy. Peace and love.
-Matthew A. Cherry
“Life is hard so I have no choice but to go harder”
Follow me on twitter @MatthewACherry
Follow the film on twitter @TheLastFallFilm
Add us on Facebook http://facebook.com/thelastfallmovie