Cameras rolling in North County

Cameras rolling in North County

Local filmmakers look to bring stories and talent in North County from the streets to the screen

By Charlotte Beard

Lacey Turner, a north county writer and director of films, has been hard at work in North County since 2016. At the time, he was beginning production of his fictional six-part drama series, “The Lou,” which explores the lives of eight friends during the aftermath of the Mike Brown verdict in Ferguson.

Since then, the 2015 Webster University graduate has teamed up with cinematographer, Justin Holmes who is also from North County. The first two episodes are slated for screenings between February and late March this year. In addition, the director/writer and cinematographer have a goal to host 300 events this year that will benefit the community at large as well as those who would like to have any involvement in the entertainment industry.

Turner and Holmes began hosting the live screenings, coined “The Greatest Stories Never Told,” at the St. Louis Galleria AMC theatre in 2017, with sold-out tickets on the first run. The fourth screening will be hosted in Pagedale at 24:1 Cinema at 6755 Page Avenue, on Jan. 27 at 9:30 a.m. Unlike their past screenings, attendees will be given the opportunity to take home what they see on the big screen depending on their ticket option. There are four ticket level options and tickets are purchased in advance. To purchase tickets and for more details, look up ‘The Greatest Stories Never Told’ on www.eventbrite.com.

As the production builds revenue from the screenings, the plan is to expand by exposing the episodes to communities farther west. The plan is to build the team’s following as they migrate into more communities. Consideration has been given to streaming the episodes, but in the production industry there is a risk that comes with maintaining control of the work.

Holmes spoke to the challenges of independent filmmaking. “We’re looking to become self-sufficient. We are open to sponsorship. Investors—we are not looking for at this [time]. Grants…we have no problem applying [for] them, but our overall goal is to be self-generating. If a larger company were to come to us [with an interest in] purchasing the film…the idea from us…we’ll be able to sit down and discuss it. We will have more negotiating power…opposed to being someone just throwing around a script and hope someone likes it.”

Turner and Holmes originally met due to Holmes’ work on a film project in which Turner’s brother was involved. When Turner found out about Holmes, he expressed a desire to work with him. Their collaboration developed over time into being a partnership. The duo is known in business as 35MultiMedia. Holmes, who minored in Business Administration at Harris Stowe State University, handles the business side of their projects and events as well as the cinematography.

35MultiMedia knows that one of the major components to making good films is having good “on screen” talent. The third casting call for current projects was scheduled Jan. 6.

“We’re trying to reach out and find the best of the best…the most serious people,” stated Holmes. “We’ve had auditions of about 400 people so far.”

Turner added, “While we’re coming up and doors are opening up for us we want to open doors for new talent here…bring them along, too.”

Turner modeled this belief early on when he began choosing his cast for “The Lou” project. Julianne King, an actress who portrays a white female – a wife and mom, torn between what she feels is right and wrong about the Mike Brown shooting, has worked with Turner on more than one project.

“Lacey is really great and open in wanting to promote the creative community here around St. Louis,” King stated. “I bounce ideas off him for things I have written and been a part of.”

King who expressed that her work with Turner has been an incredible experience, has been acting for 17 years; she started at the age of 14. King is currently portraying a detective in a short film called “Fugue” which is directed by a 15-year old here in St. Louis. Fugue is in post-production.

King spoke to what she has found makes Turner’s work successful.

“Lacey is a teacher. He has this vision of what people should know about St. Louis, what they should know about this community. I haven’t worked with anybody like that. I haven’t worked with anybody who had a message. A lot of people love making film. I’m an actor – I love making film. Lacey likes to show people. And I think that makes him very special.”

Sean Brasfield, another one of Turner’s cast members, portrays one of two brothers who are black and have decided to join the policy academy without disclosing their decision to friends. Brasfield and Turner have been friends for 20 years but have been working together professionally for roughly the past two years. Brasfield has been acting for almost 8 years now; he started with stage productions. Over time, he transitioned into film and TV commercials.

“I always appreciate Lacey’s vision as a writer and director,” Brasfield shared of Turner’s work. He explained that as an actor initially you may have trouble trying to find the full meaning in what is needing to be portrayed during a table reading. “When you get on set you really begin to see a tapestry…when you pull back from it you’re able to see the full-scale picture.”

Holmes, whose first job around cameras was at Six Flags’ Kodak retail store in his youth, shared the value for him of Turner’s education and experience in filmmaking. He expressed that he lacked the knowledge of the certain structure needed for how a film should look. Holmes stated he possessed the eye and skill for what was needed but Turner’s mentoring has provided him that missing component for film structuring.

With the production of “The Lou” underway, casting calls continue for 35MultiMedia in lining up talent for the series “Best Authentic Real Stories (BARS)” which started filming Nov. 26, 2017.

Turner stated, “We filmed the children’s scene [which] started from the year 1995. We’re shooting the first adult scene on Jan. 11…showing them grown up. [The series] is about the battle rap culture taking [viewers] into [a look at] the culture that [many] people don’t know exists or if they’ve glanced [at it on TV or social media] before they don’t have [an understanding of it], so, they look at it as ‘these people are just screaming at each other.’”

St. Louisans interested in being part of this Jan.11 film shoot can look for ‘BARS Battle Rap Scene’ on www.eventbrite.com.

Turner, who became a hip hop artist prior to earning his film production degree and media communications minor, has the first-hand knowledge to bring genuineness to the “BARS” series. His battling in middle school turned him into becoming a paid professional battle rapper in 2005. Turner, who considers himself a top tier battle rapper due to his years of competing, has over 35 battles online and won all of them except two. Turner retired in 2012 but returned to the battle world in 2016 and battles when he has an opportunity in between work on his production projects.

In keeping with the goal of 300 events for 35MultiMedia this year, Turner and Holmes are also hosting “St. Louis Got Talent” on Feb. 10 at New Northside Family Center, located at 5939 Goodfellow Blvd. in St. Louis. The show case is geared toward youth of elementary age to age 17. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Each participant will have five minutes to display their talent. Turner and Holmes hope is to showcase the talent of 35 youth; they will visit various schools to encourage involvement. Their hope is that this opportunity will help build the confidence of youth in their own abilities.

The production duo has 1,200 seats to fill so everyone is invited to attend and support the youth who will be competing. General admission is $10, and competitors register for $20. To register, purchase general admission, or for more details, look up “St. Louis Got Talent” on www.eventbrite.com. This event will be filmed and edited by Holmes.

35MultiMedia invites anyone who is interested in using their skills in the film production industry to join its team. Currently, they have a team of five writers, two production assistants, five videographers, and three sound engineers.

35MultiMedia will accept donations for the furthering of its initiatives in lieu of attendance at any of its events. For more information outside of Eventbrite for the “BARS” filming, “The Greatest Stories Never Told” screening, St. Louis Got Talent -talent show, and involvement in 35MultiMedia team, please contact one of the following: Holmes at 314-502-1361 or Turner at 314-532-8478 or filmlovers@35multimedia.com.

CUTLINE: Submitted photo Filmmakers Lacey Turner (left) and Justin Holmes teamed up to form 35MultiMedia, a production company that makes films in and around North County.