Who's The Mack?
This film was my first film “on film”, shooting in 16mm as a class assignment at Chapman University. The class was intro to film production. The crew was tiny, basically Todd Schlichter, myself, and periodic help from 2 other classmates as PA’s. The whole film was shot in two days and was non-sync sound.
There were two huge challenges in making Who’s the Mack, as it was very ambitious for a beginner film production. First, the film had an erotic theme and dealt with full nudity; I had never shot a sex scene. Secondly, it dealt with female bisexuality –which provided a two-pronged issue A) I had to find women that would be amenable to be nude, AND B) who would kiss. This was no easy task. Most of the Actors I interviewed would either do one or the other, but not both- especially without money. Alynette, to her credit, stepped up to the plate and was the first to say yes. She said she wanted to push her acting to another level and she definitely accomplished her goal; and thankfully a week or so later I found Chariesse Lavelle.
As for Kelly Christmas who is now named Moyende Kamali, he should have paid ME. I mean what man wouldn’t want THAT role. Actually, he is a very talented actor and writer whom I have known for many years.
The cast is rounded out with Genous Novin who plays an attractive passer by. Actually she, believe it or not, is more beautiful in person. She was wonderful to work with and this I think was her first film at the time since moving to LA from Illinois.
Technically, thanks to Todd we scored a touchdown. You see at film school equipment is always at a premium, especially cameras. And with 25 productions going on using 4 cameras things can get a little tight to say the least. However, lucky for us Chapman had an old ARRI BL - the Sherman tank of 16mm cameras – just laying around. The beauty here is that no one really knew how to use the BL except Todd who had shot with the same camera with a friend in Boston. So he quickly trained me and we scored the coup of the semester – never once having to put our production on hold to wait for a camera. Another benefit of using the BL was that because it was hidden it did not receive the wear and tear the other camera experienced. Additionally, the lens had different mounts than the School standard ARRI SR, thus the lens was in much better shape as well. My classmates where constantly baffled, as we were always getting our equipment on time and our images were always sharp.
As you can imagine, Who’s the Mack created quite a stir. I mean it’s not everyday that an erotic film, featuring ethnic actors touching on taboo sexual subjects screens at a small, predominately White, Christian school. It couldn’t help but be controversial.
However, that was not my intended point; yes I wanted
to stir the pot but what I really wanted to do was to examine the politics of
sex in intimate relationships. I wanted to explode the male myth that men are
in control of relationships. In this case the male character thinks he has set
up his ultimate fantasy but the reality is quite different- it’s the female
character that is the true mack; she is the one whom sets the ball in motion—and
for her own gain. Anyway, however we choose to slice it, I think it worked.
Who’s the Mack was a success. The film coupled with my other
academic work allowed me to win the 1998 Chapman University Graduate Film Student
of the Year.