THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

You'll Never Work In This Town Again? - PART 1

Most filmmakers will agree that seeing a film through the entire production and distribution process can deter one from ever wanting to live the experience again. It's draining - physically and mentally. And without the right amounts of strength and courage (or deep pockets), living through the experience will cause long term psychological damage! Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get my point! And I'll venture out on a limb here and say that the experience and post-strain can be much more intense for "minority" filmmakers, compared to their Caucasian counterparts for several reasons, many of which I'm sure you can figure out on your own.

So, it should be no surprise that there've been a cadre of black filmmakers who enjoyed success (whether critically, commercially, or both) with their first feature films, and haven't been heard from since... or have been playing in the shadows post their debuts.


I sometimes wonder what some of these filmmakers are doing today - whether they lost interest in filmmaking altogether, due to their challenging first experiences; whether they are indeed still productive, but are maybe creating work that I simply just don't know about; or whether they are putting their talents to work in other areas of the business, as producers or editors, for example.


It's not as if they lack talent (which is subjective anyway). A few of them are responsible for some of the more worthy films in black cinema history; and some even started trends. But yet, they seem to have simply left the stage, or are hiding behind the curtain.

I thought about some of those filmmakers (those I remembered) whose first features I liked and appreciated, and looked them all up, hoping to find some answers, and in most cases, learned very little. Granted my research wasn't extensive...

Regardless, starting today, I'll feature those names I've wondered about in recent times. If anything, you can consider this an homage of sorts to these men and women, as well as the work they created.

First up:
Christopher Scott Cherot
- Hav Plenty, his 1997 debut, was picked up by Miramax (when it was still run by the Weinsteins), with the help of Baby Face and Traci Edmonds, who saw the film at the then Acapulco Black Film Festival and loved it, carrying it on to the Toronto Film Festival when Miramax signed on as its distributor, providing some completion funds before taking it to the 1998 Sundance film festival. I loved the movie when I saw it and still do, despite its obvious non-existent budget look, questionable acting, and shitty soundtrack - although the music score wasn't his doing... Babyface and Traci fucked it up as far as I'm concerned, which is my one major complaint about the movie. They apparently thought that cheesy R&B tracks were best suited for the content. I disagreed then and still do now! The film had a wonderful charm and wry humor about it that won me over, despite its flaws, and it sits comfortably in my DVD collection. The last film Cherot directed was a silly soap opera called G, released in 2005, which I did see and didn't like at all. It was a retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, hence the title G., starring Richard T Jones, Blair Underwood, amongst others, and was described as a "Gatsbyesque love story set against Hip-Hop's invasion of the Hamptons." It was simply NOT a good movie, and I was disappointed in the effort by Mr Cherot, who co-wrote the screenplay based on a story by, of all people, Andrew Lauren (fashion Icon Ralph Lauren's son), who also produced the film. According to IMDB, Cherot has worked on some short films since G., although not his short films, but rather acting as either an actor, editor, or producer. He also directed one episode of BET's reality TV series, College Hill, in 2004.

I couldn't find trailers for either Hav Plenty or G. anywhere online, but you can check each film out HEREand HERE.

I couldn't find very much on Christopher Cherot actually. Not even a decent picture! Just a few mentions here and there, mostly in articles about Black cinema. Here's a poignant snippet of an interview he did in 1998 with IndieWire Magazine, just after the theatrical release of Hav Plenty:

IndieWire: How do you think this film is going to help your career?
Cherot: I think that Hav Plenty has done what it can do for my career, which is open the door. Whether people like it or don't like it, it's established me as a filmmaker. And will afford me an opportunity to continue to function as filmmaker and make more films. I don't really see it as a career-maker, but I definitely don't see it as a career-breaker either. I think it's a stepping stone towards higher and better things. Given the resources that I had, I think I did the best job I could do with "Hav Plenty." However, I do not think it is the best thing that I have inside of me.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of this now 40-year old filmmaker, please do share! It's been 10 years since Hav Plenty, a romantic comedy in a similar vein, and that preceded the slew of so-called "buppie" romantic comedies that would follow over the next 5 to 6 years after it.

Another one tomorrow...

9 comments:

  1. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    Wow, career obits...

    *sob, sob*

    Did love Hav Plenty.

    *sniff, sniff*

    I guess the door that opened was actually the lid to his career's coffin... And still so young...

    Well, if young black men will go messing around with film...

    *she blows her nose and sighs heavily*

    Hold on...

    Andrew Lauren and The Great Gatsby, I get...

    Andrew Lauren and the Hip-Hop invasion of the Hamptons...?

    Um... Andrew Lauren's story...?

    :0

    Talk about murder most horrid...!

  2. The Obenson Report said...
     

    From the bits and pieces I read about Andrew Lauren, he seems to be trying to build a production resume of his own (I'm guessing with some of Daddy's money). Not only did he produce (and I believe partly finance) 'G,' he also produced 'The Squid and the Whale.' And he's got a documentary in circulation this year.

  3. Invisible Woman said...
     

    I don't know why, but I did not Hav Plenty, tho it seems to have lots of fans. I found it to be almost a vanity project.

  4. Naoe said...
     

    Chris will be working on a film project in Los Angeles.

    Here is the press release.

    http://www.prlog.org/10089377-pphia-productions-newyilly-entertainment-launch-new-production-companies-joint-venture.html

  5. Anonymous said...
     

    I watch HAV PLENTY when it came out and every saturday i watch it i love Christopher i love his films and is trully said that i dont see him actin or any more of his films
    HE ROCKS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    love you

  6. Anonymous said...
      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  7. Anonymous said...
     

    Just saw Hav Plenty this past Friday on Showtime (I was 12 when it came out). Not great, not bad, but I don't understand why ten years later people are still talking about this movie and Cherot's legendary reclusive status. People were talking about this movie last week on my job like it was an old friend (which is why I had to watch it). They either love it or they love hatin on it, but I don't get the fascination either way. It seemed like a medium-okay indie-flick. Am I missing something?

  8. Anonymous said...
     

    We loved him because he pointed toward a level of greatness that had never been explored before in Black Hollywood. "Love Jones" was a better movie than "Hav", but Mr. Cherot himself was a fascinating individual, more dynamic and exciting than any movie he ever made. He was being aggressively groomed as the next "Big Thing". I attended a party for ABFF in 2001, and when he walked into the room it was like Prince walked into the room. When you talked with him you got excited because you knew he was going to do something great in the future. But, for whatever reason, he retreated. And instead we got tyler perry and tim story. And if you believe in karma, you have to believe we got who we deserved.

  9. Anonymous said...
     

    He certainly has a way of hiding the fact that he has a 23 year old son whom he has never supported and at this time will not help with his college expenses. Its unfortunate the fans have no idea they are craving the works of a dead beat dad!
    This is not a rumor... just stating the FACTS!
    Ask Chris Cherot.

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