The CIVIL WRATH Diaries: Part 1
By Mother Brain
February 7, 2014
10 years ago, I met John Merenda at my father’s private dental practice on Staten Island. My father told me ahead of time that John used to make movies in Hollywood during the early 1970s and that he had a script about an American bounty hunter in the old west. It sounded different and ambitious which may have been the reason most major film producers were scared to make it. Although he held out hope for a major movie star like Wesley Snipes or a big time filmmaker like Ron Howard to give it a chance, he had faith in my growing talent to make films even though I was just a 20 year old college student. He believed that when I reach the right age, I could not only portray the main character, Moses Washington, but also have the confidence to gather the resources needed to bring the script to life.
Now here we are 10 years later. With a few independent film projects under my belt (Priceless, Dishonorable Vendetta, and Night Stream) and a vast knowledge of both technical abilities and business education, I encouraged John to take Civil Wrath, now published as a novel, and produce it as a short film based on the chapter titled “The Confederate.” The idea was to put together an exciting 8 minute sizzle reel to attract potential investors to making Civil Wrath as either a full length feature film or television series. Once the details of the production were hashed out, I created a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo.
Initially, I created a semi-animated storyboard sequence of the project to engage the audience. When funds were coming in slow, I felt the need to reexamine our pitch by creating a second video that told John’s 35 year journey to getting Civil Wrath to the screen. Contributions increased as a result and now all of our bases were covered for the shoot.
I took the 2:59pm Jet Blue flight out of Newark on route to Tampa. I come here unfortunately under the weather due to a sore throat and a bad cough. The sick passenger next to me didn’t make matters much better. But I got my rental car, dodged the traffic out of Tampa, and made the hour and a half drive into Citrus County. The pitch black roads around the woodlands reminded me of my days as a student at Tallahassee Community College. Very eerie and very somber. The kind of feeling I need for the role of Moses when he’s out in the middle of nowhere.
Once I arrived at the Central Motel in Inverness, I was greeted by the nice lady at the front desk, got settled, and waited for John to arrive and visit. He came by a half hour later along with his son, Joseph, and later Charles, our sound recordist, who brought a nice welcome gift basket filled with snacks and toiletries. I feel like a movie star already!
In discussing details about the upcoming shoot, John appeared more excited than he’s been in years. We talked about shots, the crew, and plans to see the location in the morning. There’s even plans for some reporters from the local paper to check out our production as well. I think this will not only be fun but also a breath of fresh air for me after years of making films where I clashed with people over money and more often times ego. Everyone involved with Civil Wrath, regardless of their knowledge or lack thereof about the filmmaking process, wants to help out in a big way and they understand the significance of telling the story in these racially charged times we’re in.
It’s going to be interesting meeting the entire team tomorrow.