I’m not often moved by films. I rarely go to the movies nor do I hold a Netflix account. Some might find that strange but I rather check out a film that is really going to open up my mind and leave an impact. And that is exactly what Vincent N Roxxy did. The film, written and directed by Gary Michael Schultz, was featured this past week at the Tribeca Film Festival and the only film–out of the many listed–I choose to see. My initial interest in the film was due to actress, Zoe Kravitz. Her on and off screen aura always intrigued me and she was the simple nudge I needed to go watch the film. But before I went, I did some research and then got REALLY hooked.
Tribeca summarized the film as followed:
“If Hip-Hop and Rock -N- Roll had a love child she would be Roxxy, an inner city girl in trouble. Vincent is a consummate loner from small town America searching for meaning in his life that has become intertwined with dangerous people. One morning, these two lost souls meet when a vicious killer attacks Roxxy on the street in broad daylight before a crowd of witnesses. Vincent tries to save her, forcing Vincent and Roxxy to go on the run for their lives. They soon learn violence will follow them everywhere, even as they unexpectedly fall in love.”
I immediately started wondering about their love story and what tragedy could possibly follow them. I HAD to find out for myself. So on Friday night, I headed downtown, stood in line for a bit and got my ticket to see Vincent N Roxxy. And boy, did I leave that theater in shock. And not a bad shock but like a, “Holy s**t, I can’t believe THAT just happened. They really got me,” type of shock. The shock was mixed with pure bliss that I had the opportunity to watch the film. And even more happier that the director stopped by afterwards to answer questions. But I wasn’t fully satisfied with the Q&A; I wanted…no, I needed to know more! And find it out more, is what I did!
RESPECT. Mag received the opportunity to speak further with director, Gary Michael Schultz, about Vincent N Roxxy and without giving too much away, we will fill you in on what he had to say.
RESPECT.: First off, just want to say we saw the film last night and it was amazing! Such a good film. Congratulations on that!
Gary: I really, really, sincerely appreciate that.
RESPECT.: You mentioned after the showing that you had Zoe Kravitz in mind when you wrote the script. What about the rest of the characters?
Gary: The characters come from a place of both real life and cinematic inspirations. I think you have to write what you know. But there was always actors in mind after you finish the script. Even though Zoë Kravitz was who I had in mind, Roxxy was her own character. I just thought Zoë Kravitz was the person that could pull this off. She’s the person that could make it really, really special.
But a lot of the characters come from things that inspire you in your life. People you’ve had relationships with, people that are family, people that you know who have loved or hurt you. I try to pull as much as I can from that. Always.
RESPECT.: It kind of felt like Vincent and Roxxy were Romeo and Juliet. Where they so badly wanted to be in love but in the end of it they just couldn’t get out of it together.
Gary: That’s dope. And then setting them up in this world that Vince was trying to come back to. You see Kate and JC and those are two characters that have what Vincent and Roxxy want but don’t even realize that they want. JC and Kate to me are really special because they are really in love. They are true love. And they don’t really have any secrets. JC’s the guy that will fight someone. He likes to drink, he likes to party. He works hard, he plays hard. And he is the most honest person in the story about it. He’s like, “Yeah, that’s me. I’m this guy. If you don’t like it ya know f*** off.” So for me seeing like a symbol of this couple that when you see them they’re rowdy and they’re tattooed but they’re really kind people. I just hate stereotypes. And stereotypes are there for a reason because a lot of them are true but I just hate them in cinema. I hate seeing the same thing. Not everybody who’s covered in chest tattoos is a criminal. So it’s like presenting a world that looks like the people that I grew up around. The people that look like me and my family and my friends. That’s what I wanted. I wanted it to feel honest and that’s what we did. I hope.
RESPECT.: You did a great job with that. JC has tattoos and he’s kind of funny and he’s the cool guy so some would think that he is not such a great guy but he treats his girlfriend like gold and he’s all about protecting her. So you did a good job with that.
Gary: There’s also like this kind of thing going on in the story that is very like an urban western. You have these guys that feel it necessary to protect their women but the girls really don’t need protecting. And so that what was kind of cool. You have that love. You’ve got these guys that are trying to be traditional and try to protect them but really the women are the strongest people in the world. And so for me having that kind of contrast and duality between those two ideals was also really interesting. I hope we played it like that because you know Roxxy’s strong but she is also real. She is vulnerable. I didn’t want her to be Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, who’s always like kick ass. I wanted it to build to that. Really if you look at Vincent N Roxxy, my goal was to make a drama that felt real that allowed you to sit into the world with Vincent and Roxxy. That hopefully as an audience you fall in love with them while they start to fall in love with each other. And the genre elements come in with all their pasts and secrets and you ask yourself what happens when I take that all away. And when I take it away in a very ugly manner. You know? Because to justify the end of the movie I think you have to earn it. And I wanted it to feel earned. So I spent a lot of time in the world with them. I don’t think that’s a common way to do that today. I think today if you’re going to make a movie that has action in it, it has to have action all the way through. I wanted to make a movie that had levels and layers you know.
RESPECT.: It definitely did. And you also did a good job with getting your viewers to really root for these two people and we didn’t even really know their whole story. You know when you watch a romance, there’s this young girl who grows up and her sisters are all married and she’s not married and blah-blah-blah and in this film we knew that they had some troubles but when we met them, they were already far deep in their troubles, we just didn’t know all of it. And we were still rooting for them.
Gary: I’ve always been interested in films that ask questions and don’t just lay every single thing out for you in the first five minutes. Otherwise what’s interesting about that? Now the fact that you can be intrigued by these characters and then I’m slowly allowing you to learn more and more about them like those are reveals. That to me is what engages the audience. That is what keeps the second act interesting. The second act is about Vincent and JC and Roxxy and Kate and how they build a family and establish family and the small town beefs. Because the beef between JC and Daryl is a very realistic, very common beef where it starts off as a pissing contest that slowly gets escalated. And like a lot of fights in this world, they start off of something small and then this guy does something to this guy and this guy tries to one up him and the next thing you know it can get really, really serious. I think a lot of violence, especially in small towns and unfortunately, especially in Chicago where I grew up, just starts when someone has a beef with someone and then it gets really scary, terrible and tragic from there. So just the idea of commenting on that without actually commenting on it, was also really important to the story, I thought.
RESPECT.: Now that you premiered the film at Tribeca and what is next for Vincent N Roxxy? Do you want it to be in the big theaters?
Gary: The film is definintely taking the next step and going to the big screen. We kind of kept it in secret up until this point because we wanted Tribeca to be the unveiling of the film. We never released posters, we only released one image and just a synopsis. And then this week at Tribeca has been BOOM! It’s been an explosion and the feedback early on from distribution and buyers has been insanely positive so our producers are doing their job right now and for me — I can only speak from my point of view — who ever we end up going with, I want it to be the home that supports the film. YI would love the film to be in theaters; it was shot to be a theatrical film. I shot it anamorphic to give you beautiful space. I used a lot of the lenses that they used on films in the ‘70s. Those Panavision C-Series lenses. So it was always intended to be a big screen movie. But however audiences can get it, the biggest audience we can reach, that’s the ultimate goal.
RESPECT.: And what do you want the audience to get from the film as a whole?
Gary: I mean that’s always a hard question. People always ask me that. It’s a hard question to answer. I can speak for just myself. I want the audience to feel like the film was uncompromising. I want you guys to feel like it was truthful and if you walk out in awe that is the most flattering thing that I could ever ask for. I mean I wanted the film to ask questions. I wanted to sit in a world that everyone feels is real. And I wanted everyone to think about how they feel about family and love and unfortunately, violence.
Though Tribeca Film Festival is officially over, we are hoping those that didn’t get to see Vincent N Roxxy, go catch it on the big screen when it releases! This film is one that will truly open up your eyes to another world. A world filled with love without the ability to protect yourself from getting hurt. But with the understanding that you can survive it if you fight hard enough.
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