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For the Cause
2013, 85m, drama, family, history
Upon her recent victory in winning the release of a wrongfully convicted man, Mirai Scott, a Chicago civil rights attorney, is contacted by her estranged father, Rolly Spencer, a former Black Panther who went underground 30 years earlier to avoid prosecution. Recently captured, Rolly is charged with the attempted murder of a policeman. At first Mirai refuses to take his case. However, believing this to be an opportunity to fill in some blanks about the past, Mirai changes her mind. Long-held hostilities and accusations explode as Mirai aggressively pursues her father’s defense.
10 questions with For the Cause director, Katherine Nero at the half-way mark.
Friday, February 12th, 2016
1Hi Katherine! First of all, could you tell us what was the initial seed that made you want to make For The Cause? I am fascinated with history and the insights it offers. I applied that concept to intergenerational family relationships by exploring how past actions impact those in the present -- even when they're unaware of what previously happened.
2Your film has good twists and turns. What was your writing process like? Writing can be lonely and it's very easy to lose perspective. Developing the script in workshops provided objective feedback and much needed encouragement.
3I met Eugene Parker (the actor who plays Rolly) on set where he was an AD and Jerry has seen him acting in commercials and films in Chicago. I loved working with Eugene. How did you meet him and what was it like working with him? I met Eugene at the audition and he was a joy to work with. I especially appreciated how he drew upon his experiences as a father to add a sense of vulnerability to the character of Rolly.
4How did you meet the rest of your your stellar cast of Charlette Speigner, Shariba Rivers and Jerod Haynes? What was your collaboration like? I worked with a casting director who did an excellent job assembling the talent. Charlette (Mirai), Shariba (Fredi), Jerod (Paul), Eugene (Rolly) and I rehearsed the week before production. We focused on their characters and respective relationships through improvisational exercises. I thought it was important for them -- especially Charlette and Jerod --to get comfortable with each other.
5To me, it seems like Chicago has tons of incredible people who work on films, but there aren't enough people who make them. If I'm wrong about that, where do all filmmakers hang out and when can we all go out for drinks?! Wish I knew where the Chicago film folks hang out. It seems like folks connect more through social media instead of in person. If there is such a place, I'd like to go.
6What was your most difficult scene to shoot and how did you solve it? The courtroom scene was the most difficult because we only had access to the room for 12 hours. Also, there were extras and a wardrobe change to coordinate. We were unable to shoot the hallway scene outside the courtroom as planned. Instead we focused on the courtroom interior and rescheduled the hallway scene to be shot on the final day of production.
7I really liked the scene at the restaurant where Fredi and Mirai are meeting Paul and his parents. How did you approach that scene? That scene was the most fun to write. I put Mirai, Paul and their parents together and the scene practically wrote itself. It appeared that Paul's parents and Fredi had little in common. However, they were able to bond when they shared their respective stories. By the way, the story about Paul is drawn from my life. I'm the one who embarrassed the parents long ago.
8What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? I began following independent filmmakers like Haile Gerima, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash and Kathleen Collins while in college. However, it was 'She's Gotta Have It' that inspired me to go for it. Spike Lee wrote a book detailing the making of the film that demystified the filmmaking process. That's when I knew I could also make films independently.
9Charlette's opening speech during the court scene seemed especially relevant today. Do you feel like your film is even more important now than it was the year which you made it? That's an example of how history repeats and why it's important to study the past.
10What's next? I am researching and writing my next film which is about teen suicide. I look forward to mounting a crowdfunding campaign this summer.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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