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An Interview with Marcellus Cox, Director of Mickey Hardaway

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2023

Films directed by Marcellus Cox on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Mickey Hardaway - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Mickey Hardaway is a psychological drama following a young sketch artist who agrees to a in-house visit with a well renowned psychiatrist as his life begins sprawling out of control after years of physical and verbal abuse has taken a toll on him.

 

Mickey Hardaway is based on a short of yours by the same name - so how closely are the two related, and when you made the short, did you always intend to expand it to feature length eventually?

 

Believe it or not it was never meant to become a short film at all. In early January 2020 I actually had the funding in place with a production company out in Burbank, then the pandemic hit and that killed all of those plans lol, so it was back to the drawing board lol. And with that the concept short was born. The short & feature are both tied together with the storyline, some very minor differences at certain points but itís exactly the same story, just a small sample lol.

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Mickey Hardaway, and is any of this based on personal experience?

 

I wanted to create a story about dreamers, about artists, and the love we all share for our visions and our crafts. But an honest story about the struggles and the fact that people especially a lot of times the ones we care about donít share our passions and try to bring us down mainly because we dream of a life beyond the average 9 to 5. We as artist have much more to offer to this world. Myself personally have dealt and continue to deal with these issues consistently, itís a personal self-revelation. The story overall is part of my own life and certain struggles I was and in many ways still facing with mental health but itís also a personal story for anyone that can truly relate to these struggles. I also wanted to touch on the discount between two generations when it comes to families and not seeing the World in the same manner and discuss society as a whole as a lot of time we as a society are, are worst enemy with the way we treat each other and what the consequences of those actions and how they affect every single person involved.

 

To put the last question a bit on its head, to what extent can you identify with your lead character and the issues he's forced to tackle?

 

I identify with Mickey in a massive fashion with the struggles of just wanting to live life and create but thatís the general theme of any artist lol. I donít relate to the physical abuse he takes as part of Mickeyís story was crafted from stories of individuals who have truly lived the miserable existence that he has, but the verbal abuse he suffers, the lack of support & support groups around I identify with. These issues I wanted to highlight and show not from the perspective of sympathetic feelings but as a learning tool for folks to see how these kind of things eventually takes a toll on someone and we need to find better ways of dealing with each other as a whole.

 

Most of Mickey Hardaway is kept in black and white - so could you elaborate on that aspect of the movie, and was this a decision from day 1 or did you switch to monochrome only during post production?

 

That was always the plan from day 1 without question lol. Thereís just something that color canít do for cinema. Black & white brings a certain realistic viewpoint of life to the screen, putting you directly into the story itself as if youíre playing the character. Itís not just beautiful lol but itís real, eliminating the escapism that the movies tend to give. I wanted to get rid of all the bells and whistles and put you in this story first hand, and black & white cinema does that better than color.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Your gonna make me talk about myself lol, alrightÖ My directorial approach always has and will start with the script. The screenplay is the most important component to any film no matter the cast or crew you got, the script has to be right at all cost. Once I get to the cast, if I cast you is because I trust you and I believe in 50/50 we will build the character together top to bottom, once we see it the same way I let you bring it to life. I never try to over-direct or impose my will on a actor or actress, I want your opinion and to see how you see it because you may have something better than I have lol. So making sure the script is right and allowing my cast freedom within my vision is my overall directorial approach to cinema and crafting a story.

 

Do talk about Mickey Hardaway's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

I canít stand these people I swear, lol. No without question this cast has been phenomenal from the moment production started till the moment we begin screening on the festival circuit. They were all extremely into the story and brought their absolute all to each role, and you can never ask for anything more out of your cast than to just bring your vision to life, and they did that and more and honestly for as long as I live I can never repay them.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

The shoot lasted 2 weeks, we shot Monday-Saturday and Sunday off. All in all the shoot was solid but like many projects you have your ups and downs, and thatís just mostly time lol, but for the most part I felt our atmosphere on set was good, the vibe was really good and the cast & crew got along well. So we survived lol, especially shooting a 30K Feature in 12 days, oh my god it was not easy, I still get nightmares at times haha, but overall it was a good shoot and I canít wait to begin shooting my 2nd feature in the future.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Mickey Hardaway?

 

Critically the film has been insanely acclaimed, not one bad review which was and is absolutely stunningÖ But I feel like I just jinx myself by saying this, so I know the rest of the reviews will be horrible now lol, I honestly hope not. Audience-wise we just started screening on the festival circuit so I would like to see the film play in front of a live audience more. But the festivals we have screened in so far weíve gotten unbelievable feedback from the audience, and with a difficult story and subject matter such as this it could easily make an audience not want anything to do with it, but the folks have gravitated to the message and have some amazing questions and feedback on it so the response has been fantastic and I want to see more of it as we continue the run.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Iím in the works on my 2nd feature Jefferson Street - a period crime drama set in East Texas 1951 about a black detective from up North who travels down to investigate the murder of his mother at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. So hopefully production will begin in 2024 for a 2025 release.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

Loaded question for real lol. I was about 10 years old when I really got the love and itch for filmmaking, around that time I remember my pops in the living room at home watching Goodfellas and seeing how he reacted to it, and it let me know this is something I want to look into more. The movie that sticks with me to this day as the film that truly light the spark was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Itís the same age as me lol, but itís a movie every time I watch it Iím still stunned and surprise at how brilliant it is. So from that point on I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, and there was been no going back ever since lol. I went to El Camino College in Torrance, California getting my degree in Film Production. I wonít get into the whole should you go to film school or not go debate lol, will save that for another dayÖ

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Mickey Hardaway?

 

After film school I spent a lot of time working as a PA on sets and just doing whatever I could to learn from other directors who were in the position I wanted to be in so I was paying my dues so to speak lol, but I was fine with that. Right around 2014 I felt I was honestly ready to make my short film, and from 2014-2020 I went on to make 7 short films. Since then my work has screened in over 200 international film festivals, won over 150 international film awards and has screened nationwide on Prime Video, Shorts TV, Revolt TV, Flix, Crime & Investigation, Link TV & PBS.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

Well someone the other day told me I was the Michael Bay of arthouseÖ lol, Iím guessing my work is artistically entertaining lol, I canít tell you where that came from or was leading to, it is what it is. Myself personally speaking I feel like Iím easy-going as a director, I know what it is I want from an artist's point of view, and thatís telling stories that matter that have a pulse and strong artistic tone. When it comes to working with my cast Iím in the favor of always valuing their opinions and trying implement them with my vision the best I can. Iím an artist artist but I feel Iím a actor's director as well and I want the best out of my cast, and the best way to get that from them is to allow them to be themselves, not being overbearing and controlling. Just trusting them with the material and guiding the film and tone in the direction that serves best for the film.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

I have a lot lol, just like any other filmmakers working today. But if I had to narrow them down the ones that come to mind the most are the likes of Robert Altman, Stanley Kramer, Charles Burnett, Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky. All of them were brilliant storytellers, with a strong lock on character development and plot, and were strongly independent wanting to keep there independence and control of the work they wish to present.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

All time favoritesÖ Iíll give you my Top 5: Taxi Driver, Ivanís Childhood, Killer of Sheep, Throne of Blood, The Defiant Ones.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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CatsÖ like I canít stand that goddamn movie I swearÖ lol, I have more but I just need the world to know on record 100 years from now when Iím long dead and gone and folks ask what was a movie Marcellus Cox hated with a passion - CatsÖ itís horribleÖ

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

If anyone wish to keep track of the film and myself you can on Instagram at Cellusworld24 or facebook.com/marcelluscox24

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

A huge Thank You to Armando Townsend. The man who took a chance on me and allowed me the opportunities to make my work including my first feature. I can never thank you enough and repay you for all that youíve done. And a huge Thank You to my cast and crew of all my projects, Iím beyond honored, humbled and grateful to have gone on this journey with you all and I thank you for lending your incredible talents to allow me to bring my crazy visions to life.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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directed by
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written by
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