Hip-hop artist and filmmaker Mike Gerbino and his lead actor Che Holloway spoke in a small coffee shop with threeguysand.com this January. Of the many topics discussed, both were excited to announce their new online series, Dark Justice. Threeguysand.com has got the scoop…
Mike is a School Of Visual Arts graduate, independent filmmaker, and spoken word poet – a resilient and soulful auteur who has worked on many sets and stages in the New York area. Che Holloway is a SAG eligible, theater and Stage Combat Trained actor, hailing from Rochester New York – whose varied experience and training is matched only by his humble attitude and beaming smile.
Define what it means to be racist, in your own words.
MG: Calling someone racist is a complicated thing. I think racism is a spectrum, like autism. A person might not be hateful, they might just severely lack perspective, empathy and information. They’re on the spectrum. I think we need a word for those people who don’t fall on either end of the spectrum, a word like “race-ish”. What I’m saying is, racism is a form of autism.
CH: Discrimination towards ones skin color or culture. To be mad intolerant of someone else of a different religion or skin shade.
Filmmaking – Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
MG: It’s tough either way. Getting started… we made Dark Justice with money I saved from my day job over the course of a year. It’s my savings, and I took some pretty horrible gigs to make it. In production I wore many hats, and I hate hats. Now, I’m spearheading the marketing, press, festival submissions, pitching, etc. Since this is my first real project, this is all the process of “getting started”, and it sucks. In a few months, I’ll move into the “keep it going” phase to seek a future for the show. That sucks even more because it requires finding money, interest and support outside of myself. And that might just never come. The hard part about keeping it going is that you have to correlate your ambition and drive with outside factors that might not really be there. When I was getting started, the ambition and drive was all I needed.
CH: I want to say both. Beginning anything anything is kinda tough and has its challenges I think. Keeping something going would mean having a dedicated and hardworking team, aiming towards a common goal. Id say the toughest thing about this whole project, is trying not to break character in my scenes with my fellow cast mates haha. In particular Tim O’Connor (Stanton) and Jon Caesar (Rev. Charles Maxton). The whole cast is amazing, we have a certain chemistry I think you guys will see and like.
What is your definition of diversity? How do you encourage people to honor the uniqueness of each individual while still collaborating – on and off camera?
MG: Diversity is just the inclusion and consideration of variety. Varying types of people, ideologies, experiences. I think if you’re trying to make diversity work, it is a disaster. But, if you’re simply open to diversity, it’ll happen organically. Why? Because we live in the future, and humans of all kinds are everywhere. If you’re being honest with yourself, you’d have to actually try pretty hard to tell a contemporary story without some diversity. I’m looking at you, Wes Anderson.
CH: I kinda look at everyone as walking books – I’m super imaginative and grew up on, The Pagemaster – my idea of diversity means people being tolerant and constantly keeping an open mind towards peeps of every culture.
Talk about how you responded to a colleague or co-worker or friend who made an insensitive remark. What did you do, and what could you have done differently?
MG: Growing up white – age 7 – 14, and then again for the summer of 2006 – I spent an untold amount of time around people who were either racist, race-ish, or just straight up ignorant without ever being detected as a person who didn’t agree. I soaked it up like a racial sponge, and have used those experiences to help inform my ideas about race in America. In some of those situations, the best thing to do was to soak it in— because the TRULY racist sh*t that I heard was when I was incognito. Racists tend to think all white people feel how they feel, it’s fascinating— they will really let loose. Is that the right thing to do? I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve argued and fought with them more, but I bet learned a lot more listening to REAL racists BE racist than I ever would’ve learned arguing with them.
CH: I normally don’t entertain that type of drama, haha. We leave that for stage and screen (sassy). All jokes aside though, I did have this one experience back in 2013 back when I was in a small town in Upstate, New York where a guy stumbled up to me after just leaving a leather bear bar, I mean a motorcycle bar. Sorry! Anyway, he stumbled up to me and called me a F***** N*****. It hit me hard, not so much what he said, mostly his breath. Haha, I simply said to him, “Get some gum…wit ya drunk ass” and went on my way. Now you gotta understand…I was in a predominately white area, in a small town… Reacting to him emotionally would have made me look like “The Aggressor” so I had to think logically and simply walk away. I’m not a dummy. Except for Fridays.
I often get asked why anyone would want to direct, produce, or act. Why would you want to always have 100 decisions in front of you and have over 100 people waiting on your answer?
MG: I take no pleasure in being in charge. I do, however, have a constant desire to be creating things. Directing is a necessary part of that, but if it was the ONLY part then I probably wouldn’t do it. I direct out of necessity, I produce out of necessity, I write because I love it. If I didn’t direct and produce what I wrote, most of it wouldn’t get produced. So that’s why!
CH: Honestly, I don’t think most people want that kind of responsibility, just because it can be a blessing and a curse sometimes ya know? Its a blessing because your doing what you love but one could consider it a curse when it comes to constant criticism. Everyone likes to hear, “Good job!” Not. “Wow, that shit sucks, who you think you is?” Fine line there. But all u can really do is give your best and always put your best foot forward.
What does your audience want? And how do you aim to give it to them?
MG: I’d be happy just to have an audience, just to build one. I hope that’s what we can do with this show. The type of stuff I do is pretty hit-or-miss, so I don’t think there is much I can do to please an existing audience. Best I could hope for is to just find the one that likes this kind of strange, silly stuff.
CH: People want to escape reality for whatever there reason may be and in our case, poke a little fun at reality. I also feel audiences want something original, something edgy…cough cough…Dark Justice….cough cough….
Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back or tell a particular story… or not?
MG: I don’t think there is a responsibility, no. Art has to be art, so do whatever you need to do for your art. I don’t utilize current events or social issues in my work out of obligation, I do it because that’s my thing and it excites me. Personally, I think if you’re going to tell a story that doesn’t consider the bigger picture then it should at least be interesting, beautiful to look at, or unique. And if you’re going to tell a story that is actually detrimental to the culture, you better make it undeniably good. Does Dark Justice help or hurt? I don’t know. But I felt a responsibility to at least come by it honestly since I was telling someone else’s story and utilizing someone else’s struggle. I hope it contributes something to the conversation about race and police. And also, there’s a bunch of farts in the show so that’s pretty funny.
CH: Filmmakers absolutely have a responsibility to the culture! Id say that aside from enlightening and inspiring, their purpose is simply to entertain. To ease you out of reality for a little while. Now I feel that if you are a creative person and something really hits home or the heart for you, then why wouldn’t you do what you love to benefit a cause that’s close to your heart? As an artist, I feel that’s something you should WANT to do.
Connect with Dark Justice online:
Find Dark Justice on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkJusticeShow/
Find Dark Justice on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTcQjhpLpxkKFYzJZDXIEuw
Find Dark Justice on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarkJusticeShow
Find Dark Justice on Instagram: @DarkJusticeShow
Writer/Director, Dark Justice
Actor, Amir Johnson in Dark Justice