Did you hear about the rose that grew from the crack of the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned how to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dream’s it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.
Amazingly, Tupac wrote this poem as a revelation of himself and how he made it out of the ghetto by following his dreams. Sadly, the same could not be said for Latasha Harlins, who had big dreams of becoming a successful lawyer. In my film, Latasha is the rose, and South-Central LA is the concrete she has learned to love and hate. Tupac would mention her name six times in six different songs paying homage to Latasha Harlins throughout his career.
Some may ask, how can a rose grow from the crack of the concrete? The real question is, how did it manage to survive such harsh conditions? Every filmmaker is like a rose in the middle of the desert, clinging to dear life. There are plenty of ways to fail at making a film, but failure is a part of the process. Anytime something is being made for the very first time, trial and error are inevitable. One must not be afraid of failing. Failing is a precursor for positive growth. Practice does not always mean perfection, but it does mean more experience.
A filmmaker must always be prepared to sharpen their tools. Filmmaking is a joy and a privilege for anyone who is genuinely passionate about making movies. A successful film will almost certainly open doors that were once invisible to the naked eye. Perhaps, no one ever watches your movie or celebrates your accomplishments, so what, who cares! All that matters is that you came too far to give up now. Remember, if you do not believe in yourself, then who else will. The ability to remain encouraged amid adversity is the foundation of true success.
THE MAKING OF LATASHA HARLINS:
The initial idea for creating the Latasha Harlins film came about after watching Tupac’s music video, Keep Your Head Up. The video opens with the words, “Dedicated to the Memory of Latasha Harlins. Who is Latasha, I wondered? Why is she so important that the legendary rapper would pay tribute? What happened to Latasha, I asked? The words, who, why, and what led me down the journey of discovering the true story of Latasha Harlins.
In my first year of film school, my screenwriting instructor tried to dissuade me from writing a screenplay on Latasha’s life. He felt her story was to cliche. He stated, “you must avoid writing period pieces because it is beyond your budget.” Unbeknownst to him, his words encouraged me further. Before finishing grad school, I completed my thesis by creating a short film on the life of Latasha Harlins. Making this film was not something I wanted to do but rather a film I desired to do. I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.
After interviewing the entire Harlins family, I have gained a greater appreciation for Latasha’s story. She was the protector of her family. A leader in her community. A bridge between the old and the young. She was a bright light shining in the darkness and a young girl wise beyond her years.
CASTING FOR THE ROLE OF LATASHA:
Martin Scorsese once quoted, directing is 90% casting. Casting the right actor should be on a director’s top priority list. The story is only as important as the main actor. Casting for the role of Latasha took a grueling four months. With the help of my casting director Megan Webster, we auditioned more than a hundred actors for the role of Latasha. But only one or two actors stood out.
The deadline was quickly approaching to finalize casting, and the actor who was born to play Latasha had not yet presented herself to me. And then it happened. One night while lying in bed, looking over numerous head-shots, Tupac’s biopic, All Eyes On Me, was broadcasting on the television screen. Low and behold, I see the actress, Rayven Ferrell playing Tupac’s younger sister in the film. And at that very moment, I realized she was the person to play the role of Latasha Harlins. I immediately mustered up the energy to write a heartfelt email with my portfolio attached to send to Rayven's agent at the time. A week later, I received a corresponding email stating that Rayven was interested in reading my script. And I’m happy to say that after she read my screenplay, well, you know the rest.
I would like to personally thank the Los Angeles Film Awards for honoring the Latasha Harlins film with Best Picture, Best Narrative Short, Best Actress, & Best Score. I would also like to thank Filmmakers Connect for creating this phenomenal platform.
If you believe in this story and would love to see the Latasha Harlins short as a feature film, please Support Us on Kickstarter @ http://kck.st/3ctxCTX.