Director Of “Because I Love You” Rides To The Rescue To Defend His Film

Director Of "Because I Love You" Rides To The Rescue To Defend His Film

Regular followers of S & A will remember an item I posted a few months ago back in January (HERE) about writer and director Joseph Elmore’s film Because I Love You which is currently now in the final stages of post-production. 

As the official synopsis states the films deals with "Cream, an exotic dancer and devoted mother of a beautiful, little girl named Cookie and who's in the midst of a custody battle with her ex-husband, who wants her to stop dancing or give up her daughter. On the very night that Cream has decided to quit dancing, the strip club is robbed by a group of wild animals and she is taken captive and moved to an unknown location where she is beaten and raped repeatedly. They plan to use her and then kill her before they move on to the next city and the next job. The only thing keeping her alive is the care of one of the kidnappers who refuses to let her die and forces her to remember that her daughter needs her."

And, of course, because of the premise I figured that more than just a few people would be more than just a little upset..

Though the film, as well as Elmore, had some defenders, it’s safe to say that most commenters weren't exactly feeling the film and felt that it just reinforced negative stereotypes.

Well, Elmore last week reached out to yours truly, chomping at the bit, to explain and defend his movie which he told me already has several distributors interested in it and I talked to him at length about it

For the record, we had a great conversation and Elmore himself is very likable, very approachable, down to earth kind of guy. But I had to ask him, of course, the obvious question that many of you were no doubt asking: why didn’t he make say more “uplifting and positive”  film instead about one with a black female stripper who’s kidnapped and sexually abused?

He responded that: “Because I Love You is an action drama. The movie is not about crime. it’s not about strippers. It is about a woman who is fighting to stay alive for no other reason than to be there for her daughter who she loves desperately. I wrote this movie because I wanted to ask the question: 'Who would you fight to live for?' People say all the time that they would kill for someone. That they would die for someone. But what would you fight to LIVE for?  When all else is at its worst and you feel like not going on, you know, it’s like 'Please just kill me', 'Put me out of my misery'. But what would you live for? It’s like I would never want anything to happen to me because I need to know that my son is O.K. Who’s going to be there for him?”

So O.K. then, but why does she have to be a stripper? Why not a teacher, a doctor or just a regular person?

“Well here’s the funny thing about that. What is that saying? It’s American culture now. It’s being real.  It’s American culture. Everyone knows a stripper. Everyone’s been to a strip club. You know all about it. So to say that there’s no story that can come out of this is ridiculous.

But there are many people, especially women, who will say that you are sexually objectifying the female lead in your film by making her a stripper who is raped and abused

“You know that makes me laugh because they want to say that everything is perfect in the world. Everything is great in the world. The only people who have good things to happen to them should have movies made about them. You can’t tell a story about her because she’s a stripper because that isn’t 'positive'. Positivity comes out of negativity. So because she came out of a negative situation we can see something positive come out through that.

"I remember people saying we shouldn’t do “hood” movies. I don’t do “hood” movies, but I would do any story that has a story. So if someone from the hood sees a story and sees something positive happening, then they can see that this can happen to them, that something good can come out of it. And again this is what I’m trying to do with Because I Love You. I’m trying to show that something good can come out of this. This girl does not want to be a stripper. That was not her goal in life when she grew up. Something terrible happened to her and it led her into that direction and she’s here now. And she’s trying to make the best way that she can so that her daughter doesn’t have to do that.”

Which brings up the issue of black imagery in films and do you think that black filmmakers have this particular burden? I don’t think there’s ever been a black film made that every single black people has universally liked. No matter how "positive or uplifting" the film is, there will always be people who will have a problem with it

“(laughs) Yeah it’s a burden, but as a filmmaker you have to accept it. It is what it is.  I always say that if 4 people hate your movie and 400 love it and respect it, that’s all you can do. You try to make the best movie that you can possibly make. I agree that we should not be making movies: ‘This is negative, this is negative, shoot people, kill, kill, kill!’  without any responsibility. That makes no sense. And I do agree that if I made a sexual movie there will be people who say: 'Oh My God! Black people having sex! That’s the most terrible thing in the world!' You have Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and Unfaithful, but if they’re black and sexual it’s a problem.

"For me what feeds into the stereotype is black people. We feed into the stereotype more than anybody because we’re the ones complaining about it all the time. We keep complaining and saying it shouldn’t be done, but no one else is complaining. I’ve never heard a white person saying: ‘Wow! Halle Berry having sex with a white person! This is terrible!’ But black people say it all the time, so who’s feeding into the stereotype?”

And there you have have it. I want to thank Joseph for the opportunity to let me talk with him and I’m sure that many of you will have something to say.

This Article is related to: Features


Comments

Rod Butte'

I still don't understand why the debate .. this isn't the first time a film has been made that follows a similar line .. and there are MUCH worse films out there than this (in terms of story), no offense to this film's writers .. but this f…ilm also shows what can actually happen in real life .. this COULD happen to someone .. and probably has in some form at some point in the history of man .. I don't see a big issue .. people should understand, if they don't like it, they don't have to see it, nobody is forcing them .. granted there are films that have been made that shouldn't have been, but in this country, we ARE free to express our ideas, thoughts, etc, and nobody is forced to listen to those ideas or watch a film with such…and as for stereotyping, I agree with Elmore himself ""For me what feeds into the stereotype is black people. We feed into the stereotype more than anybody because we’re the ones complaining about it all the time." .. same can be said for many white or hispanic filmmaker/writer as well … granted this is only my opinion, and after seeing the film I may change my mind and say he shouldn't have made this, but I can't judge the work without seeing it…

Me

To me, the problem in contemporary black cinema isn't that the themes are negative or depict African Americans as being thugs or hookers. There's no denying this element actually exists in society, just as it does with any culture. Why shouldn't a filmmaker explore that world – especially if the outcome of the message is positive one? Not saying that's the case in this film, because I haven't seen it. But based on the director's comments, it seems like it's a cautionary tale.

To me the real problem is the misconception by black filmmakers that this is the type of film they HAVE to make if they want distribution. There are thousands of stories specific to the African American experience in our society. This is why I think Tyler Perry has been so successful. When gang-themed urban films were dominating 90's black cinema, he came along and offered something different. But Tyler Perry is just one voice as well. There needs to be more African American films being made. More importantly, the stories need to be more diverse. There should be room in black cinema for films like "Because I Love You" and films with less "negative" characterizations of African Americans.

Ken

Why do black people have the burden of piss pour films? Feel free to answer anybody.

Bshooter

For an indie, I think the camera movement looks great. I don't understand the comments about bad acting, as it is only a trailer driven by a piece of music. But, I guess some people just have to put their 2cents in, even if they don't know what they're talking about. Perhaps its from a sense of self righteousness, or their own bitter insecurities (those who can't- try to teach. Those who can't do that- pretend to be educated critics…)
Without any more information, I think this looks like a decent action drama. I'm curious to see what the hype is about.
Enough said.

SHOCKARD

My God. Couldn't they have written a better synopsis? It's terrible.

The Director

WOMP – I'M SMART ENOUGH TO SPEAK FOR MYSELF and although I appreciate the people who can see past themselves to give my project a chance to be seen, (which is all any filmmaker ever wants), I don't solicit anyones help in articulating my thoughts. I have no problem with yours or anyone else's criticisms of my film, in fact, I welcome it. I think criticism is the park for healthy debate which is always good. Hopefully I will learn something from it and become a better filmmaker in the future. What I won't do is conform to be a one dimensional filmmaker, who has no original thoughts whatsoever.

Frank Anderson

Everyone likes to talk about how black filmmakers should only make movies that are positive and uplifting. Sounds good but who supports that? I mean really. Going back to your early english lit classes you learn that in drama you don't have drama without conflict. Remember that? Man versus Man, man versus himself, man versus nature etc. Usually that conflict involves something that can be perceived as negative. However a good story shows how one is able to overcome that negative thing thusly resolving the conflict. I think that happens in this story. All of shakespears protagonists had character flaws. That didn't keep his plays from being classics. I have no problem with being critical of our work. But lets stop being critical just for the sake of being critical. You don't like a particular storyline? Stay your ass at home. Lastly, lets deal with a couple of facts regarding this "positive/uplifting movie thing. 1991 was a major year in black filmmaking. There were a number of black films that came out but there were 3 in particular that were significant. It was the year Mario Van Peeples did NEW JACK CITY. It had a production budget of 8 million, it made 46 million. It was the year of John Singleton's inaugural piece, Boyz in the Hood. It had a production budget of 7 million, it made 56 million. Both movies had its share of violence, profanity, sex etc. Lastly there was Robert Townsend's sophmore piece, Five Heart Beats, a classic film most people call positive and uplifting. It had a budget of 7 million, it only made 8 million. The fact is, we talk about our desire for more positive and uplifting movies but when they are made we don't support them. It is difficult enough for us as filmmakers as it is to make black films. Hell its difficult for white filmmakers with a major rep to make black films. Just ask George Lucas ( Red Tails).

Pro

I'd like to see this film…

tommy brad

No disrespect to no ones opinion, but people listen, AaronDay made a comment on here and said "yeah only Quentin Tarantino can make films about Black woman being raped",that comment alone should of shut all the yapping and negativity towards this film down. Movies at the end of the day are about "ENTERTAIING THE AUDIENCE", whether its fact or fiction its about getting people in the theaters. Hustle and Flow made it to the Oscars and nothing in that film portrayed us positive, but guess what "we" all went to see it, bout the DVD and bootlegged it. Let me ask this question people, if a writer came from a life of being around strippers,rapist or women being raped,or pimps ,drug dealers and abuse,domestic violence in the home and nothing positive ever came in their life , their not aloud to write about it ,or put a film out in theaters?? What happened to freedom of speech and freedom of expression? Cmon people,stop acting like yall watching the History channel faithfully or TBN (The Bible Network),or read nothing but positive books your whole life,we don't live in a perfect world so why "FRONT" like we do,go to the movies and be entertained…PERIOD! No one said you have to believe the film but yall based it off a trailer and the film hasn't even been seen yet. Do we call those people "HATERS"? No i called those people "DISCONNECTED FOLKS" with whats going on in the world they live in. In the words of L. Fishburne in The Spike Lee joint "School Daze"
WAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKEEEEEE UUUUPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!! LOL.

The Director

First of all I want to say hello and I appreciate the healthy debate (when healthy) that is taking place about my movie BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, here on the Shadow and Act Website. Ok, so let's get to the criticisms.

PRISS – Where to start? That one made me laugh.
JAQUETTA – You said our movie was poorly made. Really? Okay. I can except that, because it is your opinion. Plus you have not seen the movie. But here are a few fun facts for you. this movie was shot with both the RED and the AURRI cameras. Two of the top HD cameras out there for independent filmmakers. True HD almost as close to film as you are going to get. i shot it with camera movement, using Dollie Tracks on almost every shot. The coloring of this movie tells a story, the lighting tells a story, the music and score tell stories and the actors did a phenominal job, choosing to do their own stunts. So I am confident in saying that this is definitely not a poorly made movie. No matter what the budget.

If you watch the trailer you will see that I am trying to show this women (Cream) is living two lives and she is conflicted in both. And because of her wrong choice in lifestyle she has put herself, her daughter and everything good that she has been working for in jeopardy.

Now I am cool with citicism, but the name calling (schlock) and the anger is what confuses me the most. It's okay to say I didn't like the movie after you have seen it, but to condemn it to hell after seeing a trailer or reading a synopsis is counter productive.

I have been to the movies to see every Tyler Perry movie but two. Daddy's Girls and Meet The Browns. There are only two that I like personally. The Family That Preys and Good Deeds. But I support him, because if we don't show support and STOP BOOTLEGGING, Hollywood will continue to not fund african american films. PERIOD. And it is because of the success of Tyler Perry (MONEY not critical acclaim) and companies such as Rainforrest (Think Like A Man, Obssessed) and T.D Jakes (Jumping The Broom, Not Easily Broken) that we have more films being made today. Just something to think about.

As far objectifying women is concerned. I agree with you that women should not be objectified or degrated. But as a filmmaker I do have to tell a story as honestly as I possibly can. This woman has a job that she should not have. She lives through something every night that no woman should have to live through. The disrespect and the degredation of being a stripper. Just to get a dollar. Why would a woman put herself through that? The answer lies in the story. So I promise you, I am not trying to objectify. I am simply trying to tell a story.

T. WHINER – What planet am I on? Earth. Where there are strip clubs all over the world and probably in every major city. Somebody is working in them and someone is patronizing them. These women have stories. Eve (ex stripper) has a stry. Amber Rose (ex-stripper) has a stry.
Eve became a star. Amber Rose is a high class model now. They both started in strip clubs. And there are more.

WORDBLAZE – I feel you, but the movie is more complex than just she is a damsel who needs to be saved. She is a woman who realizes that she needs to fight for everything she loves in life. To be strong and not give up. I wrote a movie about a woman who was dealt a bad hand and before it gets better it gets worse. But that does not mean you give up.

AKIMBO – Not only did I study Stockholm Syndrome for this movie but I also researched Patty Hearst. This movie is a love story but not the one you would expect it to be. I never said that CREAM (our female lead) was repeatedly gang raped ON CAMERA, or do we show it in the trailer. So I have no idea where you get that from. She was attacked and she fights back. I would think that you would want her to.

One more thing. This idea that every character in black cinema should have a positive job is… well, it's just not realistic. The world is not a perfect place. Some of you don't even realize what you are saying sometimes. You are grossed out by the fact that our lead female is a stripper. We shouldn't tell these types of stories. You are saying that people who go through this type of pain do not exist. But they do exist. Hookers exist, pornstars exist and so do pimps and dope dealers. You might no a hooker and not no that she is one. You don't know what people are doing in private. If I wrote a movie about a teacher who made everybody feel good would that make you feel better? Probably. But would you see the movie? And guess what, if the teacher makes every body feel good that would mean that they would first have to feel bad in order for there to be a story. Without negative their is no positive. So we have to show both sides. Not all of the time, but for this film it was necessary.

Thank you for your time. This has been fun. Let's do it again soon.
Joseph Elmore

Hit me up on Facebook.
Or Twitter @ambitionent
Or visit the Because I Love You website.
http://bcuziloveumovie.com/

Ken

Just be honest people: you want to see garbage. You may not call it garbage but "it is what it is".

Ken

The very fact that black people adopted the capitalistic-individualistic mindset is the main reason why there is no balance and why there are those quick to criticize those that criticize others. Stop with this "oh its victimizing". That's a very piss pour excuse at this point.

Miles Ellison

I think that some people need to come to terms with the fact that they just want to see movies about hookers, maids, and strippers. The "black life is ugly" argument is a lame defense of movies like this. A more honest argument would be that a significant portion of the black movie-going audience would rather watch a cavalcade of dysfunction porn and shopworn stereotypes than anything more complex or nuanced.

Orville

I think the filmmaker of this movie has a point it is HIS movie and HIS VISION. If people object to the premise of the film don't watch it! Viola Davis said something recently about the killing of the black artist in a Tavis Smiley interview. I think now I understand what Viola is saying. Why do black filmmakers have the burden of doing something uplifting and positive? Is life perfect and pretty no it isn't. Sometimes life is ugly. Also, why can't there be a spectrum of black directors and filmmakers? Everyone is an individual we should not be defined just by our racial background and neither should art.

micheleb

even if I wasn't aware of the tired unoriginal storyline, by its trailer, this film looks terrible. He can defend it all he wants, it's still a Gang of Roses caliber film.

T. Whiner

Haven't been on the site for a minute…but seriously Elmore…"everyone knows a stripper….everyone's been to a strip club,"? Seriously what planet are you on dude? For the record, if you are looking for support from the Black community and Black women don't connect with your protagonist, then you're screwed…pun intended. We are f*** tired of being presented. Sure, you have distributors. But you feed the beast by continuing to show us as strippers, trippers, ball busters, Sapphires, dumb asses and the like. Women will typically make the decision for a date night film and honey your film ain't exactly date night material. I know folks who wouldn't be caught dead in a movie theatre watching your film. But, they'll buy it on Netflix…and more power to you. HOLD ON, "we" did not support films like "The Great Debaters", right? I know idiots who "stole" the movie, downloaded it for free…but they wouldn't think of downloading a Spielberg film. Get real you say? Look at the drivel that a Tyler Perry produces ad nauseum. Making a great film is only the first part. There is so much work to be done in terms of widening the scope. Having said that, you have the right to make any film you want. I support you 100% in your efforts and congratulate you for having written, directed…etc. But, you won't get a penny of my money, honey. Elmore, you seriously need to visit the S&A site and read "Letter to Trayvon". Perhaps then you'll get a clue.

Sergio

Sorry I have to jump in here, but has anyone noticed that the post below about filmmaker Ngardy Conteh has gotten so far ZERO comments and the one above about Wilkie Corneilus Jr has gotten ONE? But everybody has something to say about this film. Hmmmmm what's up with that? C'mon confess, you LOVE it!

CareyCarey

Y'all need to stop frontin'. You knew what the dude meant with his "Everybody knows a stripper and everybody's been to a strip club". A person my not actually have a friend that strips and/or rides a pole, but unless they've lived in a cave on the moon, they surely know someone from their past, their neighborhood, their school/college and/or a character on TV who dances for dollars. So don't act like you don't know what the man is talking about. Besides, it's not against the law, and believe it or not, most men at one time in their life, has been in a strip club or has watched a porn flick… take your pick but don't front. That reminds me, I wonder if those who are knitpicking Joseph's film, did the same at Lifetime's Client List? Or Hustle & Flow. Please folk's, what's the purpose, and point, of vilifying a man who's putting forth his best effort? I say "Praise in public, reprimand in private". Give the man a little respect.

Ash

I know no strippers, not a single one.

We still won't be watching

so yeah, ignored. no time to debate this. it's a tired one

Ray

Yea honestly guys, you can't expect all black movies to be positive & uplifting. Not all strippers want to be strippers, they don't grow up thinking "hey fuck it, I'll go be a dancer & get rich." Yea he could have made the lady a teacher, lawyer etc etc, but at the end of the day, strip clubs keep HUGE wads of cash on hand. Sooooooo hood cats decided to hit up the strip club & rob it, which makes sense, because there's isn't going to be the same hassle as robbing a bank or something more "risky" that will be covered with cops & crap. So it does make sense when you think about it. Sometimes you just have to ignore what you don't like, and promote/support what you do like. Dude, has hit film that he wanted to create, and believe it or not, some people will want to see it because it entices THEM. You can't determine that your definition of art is the gold standards. Let the man do what he do, if you don't like it, simply DON'T watch it. Simple. Some of you make shit waaaaaaay harder than it have to be.

wordblaze

Maybe the idea here is to build the hero archetype by pushing his damsel to the depths of distress…(stripping, getting raped) that to make him a bigger hero, she will need an extraordinary amount of rescuing from the dregs of her life, by an extraordinary man. And to have her get raped and him STILL want to save/rescue her reflects a level of integrity in HIS character. To me, that's lazy…and too easy.

One thing that can get annoying about acting as a dramaturg on some projects we create is….I notice that we write one or two drafts of a script, we raise money, get the celeb cameos and (snap) we're done…we're filmmakers. Maybe one day, the focus won't be on making a film…but creating some art. If this was a spoof it would be brilliant….oh wait they already made that movie (Black Dynamite)

sigh.

Miles Ellison

Everybody knows a stripper? Everybody's been to a strip club? Maybe. But everybody knows a teacher and everybody's been to school. There's no story there? It's not a story worth telling unless it involves hookers, kidnapping, and rape?

Chscch

Eventually I suppose I will be so fed up with Black people in the United States that I move to Ghana, which is pretty much the unofficial reason why W.E.B. DuBois did the same at 93 years old over a hundred years ago. In the meantime I guess I'll have to support Black movies.

Theta Catalon

Interesting dialogue…..
If you want to learn more about the movie. Check out the website: http://bcuziloveumovie.com/
or you can follow us @:
http://www.facebook.com/becauseiloveyoumovie
https://twitter.com/#!/BecauseILoveU

Priss

Where to start, I said to myself. Where to START? Then Jacquetta saved me, stating EXACTLY my thoughts but in a better fashion. All I could think of for this "director" was DON'T FRONT. His rationalizations framed as real artistic arguments is downright comedy. Again, Jacquetta articulated it better.

Zaz

The problem I have with the critics of the film is that not all black movies need to have a message or an uplifting and positive theme to it. I'd actually appreciate just more well thought out and shot movies instead of their having to be a… happy ending or some kumbaya moment at the end. It's the exact reason I abhor T. Perry movies. Leave the church theme out of it, leave out the old man who comes and reminds us of the way it used to be and make good films!

CareyCarey

I loved the interview and applaud Sergio for giving the brotha a chance to voice his concerns and defend his position. Yeah, I particularly liked and understood this line—>" For me what feeds into the stereotype is black people. We feed into the stereotype more than anybody because we're the ones complaining about it all the time. We keep complaining and saying it shouldn't be done, but no one else is complaining" ~ Joseph Elmore. So true Joseph… so true. That reminds me, I see The Black Police is in the house. I have to tip my hat to him because he was getting it on with Curtis in S&A's Summer Movie post. And I have to say (just like with this post) I agreed with him. I mean, most of the posts that receive the most love (comments) are those in which there's a whole lot of crying and finger pointing going on. But don't get me wrong, Curtis came with some very valid points. He basically said that S&A brings it all. So it's not their fault that most individuals who chose to comment, favor the… ah… "controversial" subjects/topics. Hey… that's a good segway back to Sergio. What would we do without Sergio's brand of posts?

Aaron Day

Yeah only Quentin Tarantino is allowed to make films about Black women getting raped.

jacquetta

It just looks like a really poorly made film that happens to be black. As more black films come out and the skill level of black filmmakers increases this type of schlock will hopefully fall to the bottom of the barrel with its non-black counterparts. I hope he made money or learned something new, because he didn't make art. The acting is bad and the only highlight seems to be that we see some hot black women and good stripping. Why not just admit that you are objectifying women-it's not illegal and many people make a healthy living off of it. Either this filmmaker is in denial, dishonest or both. I'd like to find one crappy filmmaker who will admit to churning out a bad flick. At the same time, I can't be offended by it. It's kind of what I expect at this point. I've wasted too much time on it already. I am going to go look at a real film to cleanse.

Ali

I like how he says we ALL know strippers and we have all been to strip clubs. Do we now? LOL! Look, if you want to make a movie about a stripper, do it. But don't act like it's seen as "just a job" that everyone accepts as a part of "American culture." You've gotta have a real point when you choose that occupation for a character.

Akelah

This looks terrible judging by that trailer, its almost spoof like.. it upsets me these are the people who get film budgets and backing smh

THE BLACK POLICE

I don't understand why people are disappointed at their race because one man made one movie. If that is the story he wants to tell let him tell it. White people don't sit around doing that every time a white movie is made that "doesnt paint a white person in a good light".

It's not my kind of movie and I wont be watching it. Case closed. "Protest" with your dollars. If you don't like it don't see it, don't patronize it.

Akimbo

I have to say I'm supremely grossed out, not only by the fact that she's a stripper who is repeatedly gang-raped on camera, but also by the fact that her name is "Cream" (lol at Cookie & Cream, though). This interview and trailer did little to assuage my disgust. If it's REALLY about questioning how far you would go to live for someone, why so much stripping in the trailer? And is she really going to fall for one of her captors? A dude whose friends sexually abuse her? Pass.

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