A short film is in development that’s set to tackle mental health. Written and directed by Denzel Whitaker, known for his roles in films such as The Great Debaters and Black Panther, 5150 will star When They See Us and Watchmen‘s Jovan Adepo and David Oyelowo will executive produce. The project is from 4WT Media and Oyelowo’s Yoruba Saxon Productions.
According to the description, the film “explores mental health within the black community and the sometimes toxic power of celebrity.” Adepo will star as Celeb, “a world-famous but narcissistic celebrity whose erratic behavior leads him to be confined in a psychiatric institute under mysterious circumstances.”
“Now more than ever, people of color have the greatest opportunity to be heard and share our unique perspectives through film and television,” says director Denzel Whitaker. “This project is a chance to explore the interrelated issues of mental health and celebrity from the perspective of a global icon played by the incredible Jovan Adepo.”
A more detailed description of the plot reads: Influential, arrogant, a genius, and a nuisance— CELEB is a globally recognized star who is well known for his political statements and increasingly for his erratic behavior. At the height of his antics, Celeb awakes in a peculiar hospital room, confined for a reckless and violent outburst. During his stay, he is visited by three key women in his life: his publicist, his wife, and his mother. Despite the immense fame that Celeb commands, and his incessant need to challenge the system, these women admonish him of the dangerous repercussions he must now face. As pressure mounts, will Celeb come to terms with his own actions or push the boundaries of his own sanity in pursuit of a mysterious force that he calls THEY?
The project is set to film in Los Angeles over the summer. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, production guidelines have been developed to keep the cast and crew safe during filming. The goal is for the film to be on the festival circuit and have a wide release, with the film serving as a proof of concept for a limited series to be produced by 4WT Media and Yoruba Saxon Productions.
A crowdfunding campaign for the short is underway. You can learn more about the campaign and donate here.