October 2001
A lot Can Happen In ďOne WeekĒ

Interviewed by Kellye Whitney

A lot Can Happen In ďOne WeekĒ

Iím the biggest cynic in the world when it comes to Black film. Iím worse than the creator of the comic strip Boondocks, whose been giving it to Vivica A. Fox and Black cinema in general for the past week or so in the Tribune. But despite an inherent fickleness (I am a fashion writer, people), Iím always willing to give people a chance. Even if itís only one chance and one chance only. When I was asked to take part in the review of new feature film ďOne WeekĒ, I was down partly because the creators hail from my hometown of Chicago. That also meant I was even more critical.

We in the film world know that unknowns frequently remain unknown because of the paucity of the script, excessively dodgy acting, and the shoddy directing they offer up for public delectation. Worse, ďOne WeekĒ contains subject matter that most people shy away from, myself included. AIDS however, and I have to throw this in, is a huge reality in our world, and itís something that the public ought to pay more serious attention to. The spread of this disease is particularly rampant in the Black community, and has outdistanced any other racial group. Thatís a lot to think about before the movie even started. But people have really embraced the film; itís been heavily publicized including several mentions in Octoberís Essence magazine.

The film opened innocuously enough and my writer antennae twitched, ready to condemn, but then something happened. Lead character Varon Thomas (Kenny Young) grew on me. Everything that brother went through was familiar. Iíve gone through the same work drama with office haters, and shaken my head in disgust at sloppy roommates. Before I knew it Iíd been sucked into the story and was riding a wave of action that lead to an ending I never would have predicted. I laughed, I cried, I even shed a few tears, and thatís great film. Director/Writer Carl Seaton was nice enough to share a few moments of his busy life with blackfilm.com and me to tell about this labor of love called, ďOne Week.Ē

KW: What was your motivation for making this film?

CS: Iím a filmmaker first, and we (Griot Filmworks) agreed that the story was going to be paramount. People donít even want to discuss AIDS so we decided to tackle it head on. It was originally written as a comedy. After some research, the situation evolved as something much more serious. We really bring to light an aspect of the African American lifestyle that has rarely ever been depicted and we approached it with respect. We didnít bother with statistics; we went to clinics and spoke with people who actually do this thing called partner notification. They have to find people in the most exotic places and get them to come in for testing, which is not easy. Black folks already donít want to do anything medical. Dealing with this fear of the unknown is part of their job, and they must find you by any means necessary. We didnít even take notice of the disease until Magic came up with it. This is 2001 though, man. Itís well past the homosexual arena. This has nothing to do with being homosexual and nothing to do with being a drug user. Itís about being an African-American in the African-American community.

KW: What was it like working in your home town?

CS: I grew up in Chicago, and when I came out of Columbia College I focused primarily on my writing career. But my company and I soon realized that we had to make films to make noise. Itís all about doing for self. We did short films before we did the feature and kind of cut our teeth on that. We also got involved in the film community in Chicago and decided who was walking the walk and who was worthy of trust. Itís a labor of passion because there is no money right now. Weíre setting a precedent. We couldnít afford any potholes, so we planned and planned, and we surrounded ourselves with people who were fueled by passion more than greed or envy.

KW: Beyond the importance of getting tested, what would you really like for the public to take home from this film?

CS: Hopefully this film will dispel the rumor that Black people cannot work together as a collective. We kept a high level of professionalism while making this film and we kept the lines of communication open. It can be done. It takes time, effort, and a lot of work, but it is possible. Just surround yourself with people who have a soldier mentality and the film will get done. In that 18th hour when youíre tired and 12 inches of snow just got dumped on you, hardship will separate you from the people who want it and those who only said they want it. The true soldiers come to light very quickly. And, donít be afraid to tackle subject matter that is out of the norm for African-Americans. Thereís more to life than hoodies, comedies, and urban drama. There are a multitude of stories that can be told. So donít be afraid to take that risk and tell that story.

Amen, brother, but the outfits need work. ďOne WeekĒ opens October 5th.