I thought the lyrics were so powerful and I really could connect with the story. As a man we all have a woman in our past that we wish we could make things right with. Initially I was going to shoot a spec video and take a chance with hopes that John would see it and like it and make it the official video like I did with the Jazmine Sullivan "In Love With Another Man" record.
Around the same time me and Ms. Reagan Gomez were twitter ranting like you know only we can about the entertainment industry and the lack of diversity. I have a lot of strong opinions about this fact, being a black man who worked exclusively on sets for my two years in LA and I had an idea. Instead of the constant talking that we were doing why not collab with somebody who wanted to see some change too. I hit her up and asked her what she thought about doing a short together and she loved it. From that day on we tried to come up with some ideas. I still had this John Legend "This Time" concept burning a hole in my pocket so I asked Reagan what she thought and she dug it.
Kind of like the old Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff tape "He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper" She was the writer and I am the director. I have always been good with general stories (I think that's why I write great music video treatments) but I suck at dialogue. Reagan is a natural born writer and when she sent me the first draft I damn near cried. Her ability to write natural dialogue just took the idea to the next level and before you knew it we had a project worth developing.
Initially, This Time was going to be a typical love story which is pretty true to the lyrics of the John Legend song. A man runs into an old girlfriend and find out she is engaged. He interrupts the wedding and tries to win his girl back. She initially turns him down, but then she stops him, they kiss, twirl around in a 360 degree angle and blah, blah, blah.
It was a good idea to build on but it was typical in nature we wanted to do something different. I don't want to give the entire story away but let's just say that we came up with a twist that makes this story a real tear jerker. We also made the leading male somebody who was returning back from Iraq to make it topical. Reagan and I both have family who is serving overseas and it just made sense to put a message with it as well.
We got all of the characters together and I thought that it would make a lot of sense to tap into this black Hollywood market that we know and reach out to some folks and see if we could get another name or two to be interested. Terri J. Vaughn immediately came to mind and I had my boy Steven Jones who does PR for her reach out to her. We sent her the script and she loved it and said she would do it. A great feeling indeed.
Then my ass did something that maybe my defining career moment or career failure. I quit my job at CBS on "Accidentally On Purpose". Packed up my car and moved to Atlanta on a whim. I just got an amazing feeling from some of the people I was dealing with there that this was a necessary move so I stepped out on faith and took a chance. Yea, I burned some bridges but that wasn't the way I was planning on going anyway so whatever right?
We decided to shoot the project in Atlanta because it is a hot and up and coming scene and or Rainforest Films family offered to help us out a little bit. I have been lucky to finally meet folks such as Dianne Ashford, Will Packer, JZ, Crystle Clear and others who are so immersed in the Atlanta production scene that they make it seem easy to shoot here.
We did an initial casting call which yielded some 800 submissions and I have scouted some locations, but today marks the first day of official pre-production. Shout out to my executive producer Liberty Madison and my casting director Binti Lee.
I guess in the greater scheme of things Reagan and I are doing this film because we want to inspire others to do the same. I don't care how much money you make. If you cannot create your own projects and create your own opportunities then you will never truly be secure and your success will always come at the judgement of others. Come and join us on our journey as we all attempt to create an award winning project.
"This time I want it all."