What if you were rich and larger than life…you died unexpectedly…all of your closest friends came to your funeral…and you left each of them a piece of your estate? Furthermore, what if the only way your friends could cash in on their piece of the pie was for them to grant you your one last wish? Want to see how a story like this ends? You and me both! This is the plot of Corey Grant’s new independent film, Dysfunctional Friends.
Hailing from Illinois, Corey graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. receiving his Master’s in Film. Shortly after graduating he relocated to Hollywood to immerse himself in the hub of the entertainment world. He has a couple of films under his belt, Hip Hop Task Force and Hip Hop Task Force vol 2, but his new project offers something different. He explains, “This is the first film where I had an all-star cast, had to worry about overtime and union permits…it was also the first movie I’ve done which was strictly character driven so it was a very unique experience.” For such a big project, I was more than curious to know how he was able to gather his all-star cast. He held nothing back in letting me know the magical formula:
The lead producer, Datari, reached out to his friends and they reached out to their friends. I already knew Tatyana Ali and Wesley Jonathan, Essence Atkins and Christian Keyes from another project I had in development that they were attached to, along with Meagan Good. Plus our Casting Director, Phaedra Harris, reached out and it all came together…
It seems like the perfect story thus far, but his journey to getting this film backed by a major studio was nearly impossible. Dysfunctional Friends is an independent film, meaning that every ticket sale counts! The film was released in select theaters in NY and LA, so if you want it to come to your city, you must demand it! I asked Corey how the DMV can show support to ensure the film gets released right here in D.C.and here’s what he had to say:
Spread the links to the trailer online, blast it on Twitter [and Facebook], demand it and show up the opening weekend. The reason we have self distributed this movie is because all the major studios didn’t want to put the promotional money behind it because they believe our audience is unreliable unless it’s Tyler Perry. I love and respect what Tyler is doing, but it also hurts us because studios only want to put money behind formulas. To them, Tyler is the formula. [Nothing] else has enough value for them to gamble promotional dollars on. That’s our audience’s fault for not supporting other quality films and only we can correct that. Dysfunctional Friends is a different kind of movie and people are responding to it. Prove the studios wrong and go see this movie and if you like it, tell a friend.
To come back to D.C. with his new project would add another notch under his belt, being as though his story somewhat began here. Corey lets me know, “Oh, it’s going to be major coming back to the DMV. My time at Howard was what inspired me to write the script.” His Director of Photography, Richard Vialet, has the honor of being a Howard alum as well. He adds, “This is where we both started so you can imagine how excited we are!”
If you’re an aspiring writer or simply want to break into the film industry, Corey offers some advice:
You have to learn the craft. If you don’t respect the craft you won’t be able to make quality products. Also if you are trying to get in it for the money, DON’T. It takes a while to start making money and it’s a hard business filled with ups and downs. You have to love it to stick it out. Be persistent and don’t give up. Also, at some point you have to make that trip to Los Angeles. This is where the industry is and there is no way around it if you want this as a career and not a hobby. Believe in yourself when no one else does. I’m proof that it can happen because nobody let me in the game. I had to make the industry take notice of me and then the doors opened. Confidence, Persistence, Patience, Integrity, and Talent is what it takes. If you have that you can’t lose.
As if he hasn’t given great insight to his world already, he ends our interview on an amazing note. When asked what he thinks his God-given purpose in life is he said, “To touch people and spread love. I love people and positive energy and I feel that if I exude that in my work and life, I have fulfilled my purpose.” Despite the doors that may have closed on him, another big one certainly opened up. Dysfunctional Friends seems like it will not only be the next big independent film to keep your eye on, but it just might give any Tyler Perry film a run for its money. Support, support support!
*Check out the movie trailer here:
*Full Cast: Stacey Dash, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Wesley Jonathan, Persia White, Jason Weaver, Stacy Keibler, Terrell Owens, Datari Turner, Hosea Chanchez, Christian Keyes, Tatyana Ali, Vanessa Simmons, Essence Atkins, Keith Robinson, Meagan Good