On Friday, February 15, LIU Post had the pleasure of screening the independently produced film “Gimme the Loot” at the Hillwood Lecture Hall. Students, many of whom attended in class groups, were joined by the director and screenwriter Adam Leon, who spoke about the creative process for the project. “Gimme the Loot” has stampeded its way through the independent film festival circuit with a Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature at the SXSW Festival, an Official Selection at Cannes in France, and Some to Watch at the Independent Spirit Awards. With a limited budget and with non-professional actors, Leon and crew had to be concise filmmakers.
Regardless of festival hype, this film has a way about it that makes it one of the more enjoyable offerings made in 2012. Leon introduces the viewer into the world of two young adults, Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sofia (Tashiana Washington), who live in the Bronx, and where making a mark on the world through graffiti means success. These determined teenagers conceive a plan to tag an iconic landmark but must raise $500 to fund their stunt. Weaved into their madcap antics to scrounge up the money (sprinkle in some drug dealing and theft) they learn more about their place in the world.
This is definitely not just a graffiti movie. It does not exploit street art in a gimmicky way but uses it as a launching point for a journey. As Malcolm and Sofia navigate their often hostile neighborhood, they discover more than just what happens when you use a spray can on a brick wall. We find strong themes of personal honor, community, and respect that add levels of depth.
“Gimme the Loot” features some fresh and raw acting by Hickson and Washington. Their conversations on-screen play out like candid photographs from an urban playground. The cinematography of the film lends to this realism, with tracking shots following characters down city streets as they casually pitch and swing lingo back and forth. But this approach was not as loose as it seems. Leon claims that “the movie is a little more scripted than people expect” and that those long shots where characters are traveling from location to location were rehearsed tightly to help combat inconveniences such as disruptive passerby and loud noises.
On March 22, “Gimme the Loot” will be released in select theaters. This film was definitely an enjoyable watch, although it may take a little time to get adjusted to the fast talking street lingo of the characters. Keep an eye out for Adam Leon. I think we may be hearing from him soon again.