April 2002
A Jack of All Trades : An Interview with Pierre

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

A Jack of All Trades : An Interview with Pierre

His first role was playing the boyfriend opposite Oscar winner Halle Berry in “Baps”. He then was seen as Bill Bellamy’s pal in “How to be a player”. After a few more roles, comedian Pierre has decided to make a film of his own. Using his saving from his gigs at comedy clubs, Pierre produced “For Da Love of Money” in 14 days with a budget of $70,000. The film was shown at many film festivals and is ready to go to the big screen. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Pierre talks about the process of wearing hats to make this film.

WM: After performing in many comedy clubs and appearing in a few films, what inspired to make a film?

Pierre: The reason I made this movie is because I had a lot of fans on the street, that whenever I would go to black events, some people would come up to me and ask when I would appear in a film again. They don’t understand how the Hollywood system is, how you constantly have to audition, and the competition I’m going up against. It’s not like I don’t want to be in another movie, but it’s a very hard situation. If there’s a demand and you guys want to see me in a movie then I’ll make my own. So I decided to put my money together and give them what they wanted. I made it for a particular group and for those fans that come out and see me and love me. This is for them.

WM: As a first time producer and director, was there a challenge in securing financing?

Pierre: No, because I used my own financing. I’m a stand-up comic by trade and I just went on the road and started doing comedy all over the place and collected my money that way. I did a film with Leslie Neilsen and made a little money from that. It was called “2001: A Space Travesty” and it came out on cable on Comedy Central. After that I saved my money and made the film myself.

WM: How did the concept for the story come about?

Pierre: Well actually, I had a lot of skits in my mind of funny scenarios. Some of when I did my stand up comedy act and I decided to put them all together. I just had to find a story to connect them. It’s basically a lot of vignettes from my stand up comedy, sort of like what Robert Townsend did with “Hollywood Shuffle”.

WM: Did you receive any help in fine tuning your script?

Pierre: After I wrote it, I took it around to a couple of friends. Even Robert Townsend saw it, read it, love it, came to my office and gave me some pointers on how to cut down certain scenes, knowing that I was only working with a $70,000 budget. He’s the king at that. He made his first film with less than $100,000 himself. He taught me how to condense some scenes and still make the movie flow. I have some good friends who are not “yes men” and they would tell me the honest in the some scenes were funny or not. They gave their feedback and I went from there,

WM: Was it difficult serving 4 functions as director, screenwriter, producer, and actor?

Pierre: I may not do that again. First I didn’t want to direct it. I wanted someone else to do it. Being the producer wasn’t because I have a lot of good relationships with lots of people, so I was able to put it all together. I wrote it, so it’s pretty much there. There wasn’t too much work after that. I’m lenient to people coming up with other ideas if it works for the script. I’m not a tyrant on the set. In terms of directing the film, Robert Townsend saw my notes and said “The way you’re talking, you could direct it yourself.” He said “Pierre, you have the insight, you know what you’re talking about, and you know what you’re trying to shoot.” “Trust yourself and you can do it” is what he said, and that’s when I decided to direct it myself. I wanted to have someone else direct it but I would have hated being over that person’s shoulders going over shot.

WM: Robert Townsend and Ice Cube are two comediennes who have been successful at writing and producing their films. Did you think of Ice Cube and the pattern he took in making his film when you were doing yours?

Pierre: Yes, I have to give him a lot of props. Acting wasn’t even his first forte, and for him to go where he is now, where he’s producing his own movies, that’s great. He found a niche, and he’s exploiting that niche in the marketplace and that’s what I’m going to try to do myself. When you try to make things too big, or you get out of your element sometimes, you’ll lose it, and people can see that the integrity is not there and it’s not really the type of thing you do. Ice Cube is stating exactly the kind of things he needs to do when he writes and produces his movies.

WM: With a budget as low as “The Blair Witch Project”, are you aiming for the same financial success?

Pierre: I just want it to be successful. If it were to reach that kind of success, it’s all good. But no, I’m not looking for that kind of success. My success is already determined because it’s coming out. I wrote it, produce it and directed it. I was going to take it straight to video. I had no intentions on taking it to the big screen. Back in my mind, I dreamed about it, but I really didn’t push it that way. In fact, I didn’t even take it to a film festival until a friend of mine, who works for a producer who had a movie in the Acapulco Film Festival a year earlier, saw my movie and said to me “Your movie is just as good as ours. You should try to put yours in there”. I didn’t even mail it until she came to my office one day and mailed it for me because I took too long. Two weeks later it was accepted. We went to Acapulco and it blew up. I had people from Miramax, New Line, Tracey Edmonds’company, and video companies wanting to distribute the film. I said this might really be something. I got a call to take it to a place called the Urbanworld Film Festival, which is the biggest black film festival in the United States. So I sent it there while I was feeling the calls from the contacts I had made in Acapulco. As soon as Urbanworld saw it, they offered to distribute it, and so I said, “Cool”.

WM: Now that you have completed this hurdle, will you still continue to do comedy clubs?

Pierre: Oh yeah, without a doubt. There's nothing like feeling instant gratification from your people. When you make a movie, you have to wait until it comes out, it sometimes takes months or years before you can really feel the connection with the audience because that’s the first time they get to see it. But when you do a comedy show, it’s instantaneous the response. I love the people, I love being out and around people, and right now I’m touring with the Def Comedy Jam Tour and I do my own tour dates. It’s no different from a singer who puts out an album; you want to see that person live. Being a comic, I’m able to go out and meet people and hang out with them, and I love it.

WM: What’s next for you?

Pierre: I’ve written two other movies. In fact, I wrote them before this film. I wrote a drama called “The company you keep”, a high budget comedy called “Prince for a day”. Right now I’m in negotiations talking with some people about getting them done. They’re in development and very close to getting inked up, and I’m ready to do those. If this movie does really well, it will move the process a lot faster.

WM: Are you looking to do more films?

Pierre: Yes, I’m still an actor. I love being an actor. There are so many directors like F.Gary Gray, the Hudlin Brothers, the Hughes Brothers, and many others that I would love to work with. I still go and audition. Just making this movie does not take me away from this genre of the entertainment business. Again, I’m ready to direct once more and I written movies, so anything you throw my way, I’m ready for the challenge.