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'(Just) Another Day' takes the hip-hop hustle to Orlando (With Video)
It's 9 p.m. on Wednesday and the crowd in the church H2O, formerly known as the club :08 Seconds, is getting restless. They're dressed up for the evening because tonight, H2O is a nightclub once again -- for a movie.
Assistant director Daniel Springen tries to get them fired up, but when the cast of rappers and actors storms the stage, the extras/fans don't need prompting. Trick Daddy and Mo Mcrae reach for mikes. The leading man, Wood Harris (The Wire), whoops and pumps his fist in character as a rapper named A Maze; the chant goes up on queue.
"A Maze! A Maze!"
(Just) Another Day is the title of this little slice of hip-hop fiction that writer-director Peter Spirer (Rhyme & Reason) is shooting in Orlando through next week. He cast Harris and Jamie Hector, also of The Wire, to play rappers at different stages of their careers -- A Maze, at the top and trying to stay there, and Young Eastle (Hector), struggling to make it.
"It's a day in the life, a little drama, a little Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and we see just what an artist has to go through over the course of a single day," Spirer says. The rappers cope with fame or trying to get famous, dishonest record companies, the works.
"A rapper has an awful lot of people feeding off his plate," Spirer says. "They came up poor, and they're under a lot of pressure."
Miami is the setting for (Just) Another Day, but Orlando is doubling for South Florida on this shoot. Spirer was a star student of Ralph Clemente when the Valencia Community College film-program director was running the film program at the University of Miami. So when Spirer had a name cast but little money to shoot his movie, he called on Clemente and Valencia's we-provide-equipment/our-students-are-your-crew co-production deal and came here to shoot the film.
Spirer landed his cast because he himself has a name.
"Peter has a lot of credibility in this world and a lot of collateral in this business," says Harris. "Once you have an Oscar nomination, and it's for a hip-hop documentary, you have credibility in both worlds."
They've been shooting in and around downtown since the end of March. For most of the L.A.-based cast, filming in Parramore and downtown Orlando has been an eye-opener — real shootings down the street from the movie's make-believe shootings.
"You hear Orlando, you think 'Disney,'" says the L.A. rapper Young Dre — The Truth. He plays Selahsi, a young rapper whose stage name is a play on Haile Selassie, in the film. "Shooting in Parramore is just like shooting in South Central. A lot of poverty and a lot of hustle. I'm learning a lot about Orlando shooting here."
(Just) Another Day has a small distributor lined up with plans to enter the finished film at the Sundance Film Festival and release it in January.
Roger Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5369.
See the video See video from the (Just) Another Day shoot at OrlandoSentinel.com/franklymydear.