Earlier this year, ahead of its film festival debut at the New Voices in Black Cinema Film Festival here in New York, we published a piece written by Yolonda Ross on her directing debut, the short film titled Breaking Night.
The film is now online for all to see, and is embedded below. Before you watch it however, you're encouraged to read the piece Yolonda wrote first, in which she talks about her inspirations and motivations for making the film, and the general production of it.
Read Yolonda's words below, and then watch the 10-minute short film afterward:
What is "Breaking Night"? Well, it's a term used when a person stays up through the night to daybreak. It's also the title of my directorial debut.
The idea to shoot a film came to me during the 2011 New Orleans Film Festival. I was there promoting "Yelling to the Sky". I had already written a few things, but never directed. I figured I knew enough people.
Let's make it happen. So, New Years day 2012, the decision was made. I'm making a movie!!
I can truthfully say, as an actor, I didn't know the difference from a Gaffer and a Grip. I'm happy to say I do now, after going through this amazing process with some truly talented people.
May, 2012. FINALLY!! A chance to see the images that would always come to mind whenever I would hear "Blinded By the Light". Yeah, the song everybody's heard at least one time in their life. I figured, why not? I wanted to try something fresh and new to me, so with "Breaking Night" I am telling a Universal story, using a 70's classic rock song and actors that most likely wouldn't have been cast (people of color) if this were actually done in the 70's.
"Breaking Night" was an exercise for me to tell this story with Images and Sound within the confines of a seven minute song.
Like most pieces of art, it's gonna touch each viewer differently. That's the goal.
My producing partner, Timothy Mather and I went to work getting the production together. I knew I wanted a rural feel, and it didn't take very long to narrow the location down to New Orleans. While working on HBO's "Treme", I really got a love for the city and it's landscape. Once we got our New Orleans producer on board, Sasha Solodukhina on board, everything fell into place. "Breaking Night" was shot over four days, in and around New Orleans, on the RED camera. My cinematographer, Justin Zweifach really got into my head in regards to the characters emotions, and my feelings on scenes. He really makes the story come alive while maintaining the look of 70's film. It's a surreal feeling when you're looking at your first shot in the monitor and it's something you've envisioned a million times in your mind, but there it is in live flesh!
I really lucked out with an amazing cast and crew giving their time and craft to the project.
The film stars, myself, Yolonda Ross, Levi Fiehler, and "Treme" cast mates, Clarke Peters, Otto DeJean, Kesha Bullard and Derrick Freeman.