YUR Magazine sits down with Actor & Director Reegus Flenory about "Generational Curses".
YM: Why is it important for us (the community) to see this movie?
Reegus: This film is real and truthful. Each character is someone you know in any generation. The human race is struggling to find a solutions to the problems we are facing (drugs and violence) and we are hoping that our film can shed some light on the issues that we have in our community. We know that there is no one solution to 400 years of complicated issues but we hope our film can provide a visual of today’s pressing issues and the repercussions to the decisions we make. The most important structure for a child is the family. People often use the quote “It takes a village to raise a child”, I agree with that but I will add that that village begins at home. The community (village) should reinforce what’s already being tault at home. It begins at home.
YM: What do you want people to gather from this film?
Reegus: I hope it raises a sense of responsibility. A sense of responsibility to ourselves, our families and our community. I grew up in the Bordeaux area (North Nashville), two parent household with father who was a great example. I was fortunate enough to have a responsible, consistent example of what manhood actually is. The morals and ethics I learned at home, I took those out into my environment. It was the hood but I still took those things that my parents instilled in me, with in into my community. I want people to develop a connection to one another and step away from the mentality of “us” and “them”. Whether it is economically or socially, these are still your sisters and brothers. You can only ignore a problem for so long until your daughter begins interacting with a young man who is dealing with these issues or your son joins a gang or makes a life altering decision that impacts your family from that moment on.
YM: Truthfully, if people look deep enough in their families whether it is immediate or 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins, they will see that they are directly or indirectly affected.
Reegus: You can’t run from it. We are told to get our degree, get a good job but forget where you come from. But where you come from will always be a part of who you are. Your character was developed while living in that environment. It is where you spent your formative years. Your environment doesn’t define who you are, but it does have an impact on the way you see the world. In my field, I noticed the subtle difference of how you are treated in different environments. A lot of times people other people recognize our gifts and talents in ways that unfortunately our community doesn’t. But, no matter how far you go or succeed, you must never forget your family or community or where you came from.
YM: How did you come up with the idea and plot of Generational Curses?
Reegus: My background is film, television and theatre. I was in a movie with Isaac Hayes entitled “Dodge City”, that was shot and directed by Read Ridley. I had the chance to see him do his project and it inspired me. It had been on my mind for a long time. He inspired and encouraged me to begin directing films. I’ve always wanted to direct and produce. I got in my car one day and just drove around, the movement made my mind wonder and I began to think, at the same time notice little things about my surroundings that I haven’t noticed before. I began my research, reading books and talking to other directors. They gave me advice and encourage me to step out and go for it. Through this research, I now have a better understanding of the instructions given to me by previous directors while on set as an actor. I see the purpose and reason for certain camera movements more clearly. All of the things I’ve done in the past have helped prepare me for this moment. I am also at a slight advantage, due to my previous experience as an actor, I know how to communicate with my actors using terms or terminology that will click for an actor and give me the performance I’m looking for .
The plot and idea of Generational Curses came from a story I wrote about 4 guys in Nashville titled “The Legend of the 4Runnuzz”. William (producer of Generational Curses) and I had several conversations about the story. He was really helpful and he asked me did I want to expand the story. I decided to make the main character a female and this could be her story. Many urban dramas are told from a males point of view, so I thought it would be interesting to tell this story from a females perspective. A male narrates the story, but it’s still her story that’s being told. Then I began writing the story from her perspective but we needed to tie it all together, so the film is set in Bordeaux (North Nashville). I then began to think about the cycles and how many of our actions today will affect future generations. Then it hit me, Generational Curses, which is a cycle that will continue until some one makes the conscious effect to break it.
YM: The time it took to do this film, how have you seen the affects of drugs in the Nashville community? In the movie Generational Curses, there were a few scenes in the church and with a pastor. You displayed the fact that the many issues our community is suffering from (drugs and violence) does not exclude anyone or place. How do you feel about the church’s role in exposing and dealing with drugs and violence in the community?
Reegus: I first began seeing this transition in Nashville between 89 and 92. What’s interesting, this is when you began to see the transition of hip hop to the hardcore gangster rap in mainstream music. That’s when you began noticing the change in the slang and fashion (like the pants sagging). The late 1980’s and early 1990’s was the era of De La Soul, KRS One and Public Enemy, which was the more conscious rap but also the emergence of NWA (Niggas With Attitude) and other west coast rapper that were expressing another facet of the community. To me the music still resonated as conscious, because it was a blunt voice against the oppression and brutality that was going on in many inner citys across America. It was almost like the soundtrack to their lives that involved violence and drugs of the community. They were telling a story about what was going on in their or our communities across the country. Some people didn’t know but we did because we rushed home every day to watch Rap City and Yo MTV Raps. I could relate to both representations of consciousness, because I had grown up around both perspectives all my life. That made me feel like a bridge of sorts. I could relate to both audiences. That unique relationship, probably influences my writing to this day.
The church and community responsibility in this is really complex. I don’t know if many churches ever acknowledged the fact our community ever had a problem until recently when it was a must to address but again it points back to moral, ethics and the family structure. How can you have hard conversations like that, actually addressing the fact that we have a problem? How can you do that without examining all or our behavior? The congregation in most churches is majority women. They are coming to be uplifted and inspired, trying to escape to a certain degree. The leaders of the church don’t want to offend them. Then the other question is “Where are the men?” Do we really want to know why many men don’t attend church? But by not speaking about these things, will it be detrimental to our children? They need a male presence, especially now since the prisons are built upon a child failing in the 3rd grade. The ministers are in an interesting position. I am beginning to hear most churches address these issues now since it has gotten so bad we really don’t have a choice.
In reference to the film, at one of our premiers, some people expressed that they felt that we were airing “our dirty laundry” but for the most part, we have received a lot of support from churches and ministers. We are connecting with numerous community groups and churches that are seeking to have a film viewing for their youth and members. Though the movie has an R rating, these leaders feel that the issues need to be addresses and the dialogue need to began now. At the screenings, I was somewhat nervous because I didn’t know what the reaction from the community would be. At one of the first screenings there was a room full of ministers, when the QA portion came and we opened the floor for discussion, we received good feedback. I feel that people needed to get a visual of the affects of drugs in the community.
YM: The movie ended kinda like “Lord of the Rings”, it left us wanting more. When can we expect to see part 2?
Reegus: I am currently in the process of editing part 2. Before the release of part 2 we would like to give people to see part 1. We are submitting Generational Curses to several film festivals across the country.
YM: What can we expect from you in the future and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Reegus: I plan to direct, produce and write more films I also plan to continue acting of course. I would also like to become executive producer over more projects. This would give other people an opportunity to see their vision come to life. I would love to create a network of directors and productions with Flenory Productions. I also see myself training and instructing those seeking a career in this industry, Teaching the dos and don’ts. How to act on set or at auditions, the things that are detrimental at the beginning of their career, and the determination needed to stay relevant and sharp. If an actor is humble yet confident, that attitude can open more doors than coming on set with a “I’ve already arrived” attitude. Your craft and skill may get you the job but your attitude will open more doors. You never know who you may be in the presence of and it’s important to have the right attitude all of the time. I have been on auditions with several mainstream actors and there is a sense of comrodory and support, we are all trying to succeed. With hard work and commitment Flenory Productions will expand. Nashville is wide open, there’s amazing talent and resources here. It doesn’t matter where you are, It’s all about how you establish yourself in that area, whether it is in film, theatre or music. You have to build your resume, your brand, and build your business. You are your business and you have to treat it as such.
**** For more information on Generational Curses and Flenory Productions, contact the websites below. ****
www.imdb.com (Keyword search Reegus Flenory)
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www.goole.com (Keyword search Reegus Flenory)