Your new movie Mickey
Hardaway - in a few words, what is it about?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Mickey
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
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
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
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Mickey
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
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
All time favoritesÖ Iíll give you my Top 5: Taxi
of Sheep, Throne
of Blood, The
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
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,
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