ABFF, Entertainment, Meagan Good, News, Omari Hardwick, Sundance -

Director Qasim Basir talks about art imitating life and the winding road to his ambitious new film ‘A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.’

ABFF, Entertainment, Meagan Good, News, Omari Hardwick, Sundance -

Director Qasim Basir talks about art imitating life and the winding road to his ambitious new film ‘A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.’

As far as Qasim Basir knows, he just accomplished something no other Black filmmaker has to date: he shot a feature-length film with an all Black cast as a oner. A oner is a movie that is filmed in one long, continuous shot. There are no cuts. In the oner world, there are no do overs either, only start over.

It’s an intense process that requires everyone to bring their A-game. An unrecoverable flubbed line or a missed mark means going back to square one, which equals time, money, and energy.

In A Boy. A Girl. A Dream., Basir taps Omari Hardwick (Cass) and Meagan Good (Frida) as the leads of this ambitious, thoughtful and engaging love story filmed in Los Angeles. Hardwick and Good’s characters meet randomly on the night of the 2016 presidential election and end up on an impromptu date.

READ MORE: Omari Hardwick explains why playing Ghost on ‘Power’ made it challenging to tackle his role in his new movie

All the usual sexy, awkward, funny grey areas of a first date are amplified by the anxiety of that night, which held the fate of the country in its balance. The film is sweet without being overly so and the dialogue (a good portion of which was improvised) feels very real. The movie attaches a certain amount of hope instead of dread to that memorable November night in 2016. The film was a hit at Sundance and picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films for a nation-wide release at a later date.

Right now, A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. is on its way down to Miami for the American Black Film Festival, but theGrio caught up with Qasim Basir in southeast Michigan earlier this month for the Cinetopia Film Festival. It was a homecoming of sorts for the Ann Arbor native and theGrio got to talk to Basir about what it felt like to be home on a high note, the experience of writing a love story with his fiancé, and the importance of family.

Hometown Boy Makes Good

Basir was born and raised with his four siblings in Ann Arbor, MI—which for most people seems to be the quintessential college town. It’s the home of the University of Michigan and littered with frat houses, prestigious cultural institutions, and a bevy of quaint boutiques and cafes.  But, the A Squared (as it is affectionately known by some people) also has a few rough and tumble neighborhoods that don’t make it into the glossy tourist brochures. Basir grew up in one of those areas.

“I lived in this place called the Heights. It was like one of the hoods of Ann Arbor.  It was the low-income housing. I had four siblings and we had it rough at times.  I think sometimes we’re limited by what’s in front of us,” said Basir.  “So, I was shooting movies around the Heights at first.  I went on to Clark Atlanta University and Wayne State and I’d just shoot wherever, in the Brewster Projects in Detroit, wherever. It was a hobby.”

The filmmaking hobby took a back seat to making moves towards law school (he has a criminal justice degree and had taken the practice LSAT) and he also had an eye on football. Basir even tried out for an NFL team.

But the summer before his senior year, Basir was in a bad car accident that landed him in the hospital after flying through the vehicle’s window.

“I had a real conversation with myself about what I really wanted to do. I didn’t want to leave the world without having said much to the world. I promised myself that if got through it, I would do something that counts and do something I love,” Basir said of the moment when he went full throttle with filmmaking.

Today, that “hobby” turned life’s work has situated Basir at prestigious film festivals and the name of his movie on the marquee of his hometown’s theaters.

Writing a Love Story with a Lover

Qasim Basir initially wrote the draft screenplay of A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. on his own and it was very much focused on the lead male character.

“At first, this story was just all about Cass. It was all about him and his motivations and life choices,” Basir said. But then his fiancé Samantha Tanner took a look at his screenplay and immediately knew what it needed.

Basir continued, “She basically was asking more questions about Frida. The way that I had created that character, she was saying that Frida needed more of a life. What’s her love life like? Where is she from? What are her dreams? So, Sam really came in and fleshed out Frida’s character into a real person that wasn’t just a part of the story for Cass, but someone with her own narrative.”

In the movie, Meagan Good  and Omari Hardwick do a wonderful job of playing off of each other and feeding off the energy of each other’s characters. The real life love story and the fictional one are both heart-warming.

Art Imitates Life

In A Boy. A Girl. A Dream., Hardwick’s character Cass is a talented filmmaker with a monumental case of imposter syndrome that essentially leaves his career paralyzed. When asked if there was a bit of himself in Cass, Basir’s answer was unequivocal.

“Oh, absolutely,” he exclaimed. “If you notice, there’s a few years gap between when I did Mooz-Lum and the next movie Destined.” Mooz-Lum was Basir’s critically acclaimed 2010 film starring Danny Glover and Nia Long. Destined, starring Cory Hardrict was released in 2016 and explored the notion that even a seemingly small event can alter the course of one’s destiny.

READ MORE: “The Black Man Can” non-profit organization is celebrating boys and men of color

“To go from a starving artist and then have some success with ‘Mooz-Lum’ and have all these people and opportunities show up was overwhelming. And then when that moment passed and those things dried up, I really had to figure out who I was. I was in a weird place in terms of identity. I was definitely drinking too much. Without a doubt,  2013 and 2014 were the worst years of my life,” shared Basir, who like a lot of creatives has used bits of his own life in his professional work.

“It’s truly amazing that I was able to come out of that and get here right now. Shooting this oner was my biggest professional challenge to date. It’s cool for life to hit you in the face every once in a while because you grow from it,” he noted.


Family First

Basir credits his family with being a major part of bolstering him out of that dark place. 

“I have a great family. They supported me through all of this. They’ve always believed, even maybe when they shouldn’t have. I think what also got me through that period was that deep innate trust or faith I developed after that car accident. I promised to God, the Universe that I would do my part to give to the world,” said Basir.

At a special reception during Cinetopia held in Basir’s honor, his family, long-time friends, and industry buddies rallied around for an intimate affair. Three of his four siblings (one sister was out of town for work) and a niece were in attendance, as was his mother who is also a creative and working on a non-fiction book. She beamed with pride telling guests how humbled she was by the greatness, kindness, and creativity of all of her children. The love in the air was palpable from all sides for the hometown hero.

When someone mentioned to Basir as he was walking through the reception that his mother is amazing, he gave a soft smile, didn’t break his stride and said “I know.”

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.

The post Director Qasim Basir talks about art imitating life and the winding road to his ambitious new film ‘A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.’ appeared first on theGrio.

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