April 2002
Mandel's movie : An interview with Mandel E. Holland

Mandel E Holland

Mandel's Movie : An interview with Mandel E. Holland - Director of "the other brother"

With the continue success of african americans in cinema, a lot more directors are starting to get feet wet as their films come to the big screen. Adding his name to the roster is newcomer mandel e. Holland, a nyu film school grad. Prior to film school, mandel served some time in the military and worked as a paralegal. Wanting to be in the business and cutting some corners, mandel started and is president and ceo of his company, delflix pictures. His first film and xenon pictures' first theatrical release is "the other brother". The film stars mekhi phifer, andre blake, and tangi miller. In an interview with blackfilm.com, mandel talks about getting in the industry.


WM: after serving in the military for a few years and then pursuing a career in
law, what made you decide to be a filmmaker?

MH: it really came down to just wanting more out of a career than money. As a lawyer, i could get a big check, but i wouldn't be having a whole lot of fun. I have many friends who i've worked with in the past who are now attorneys, but they're not happy. The old saying goes: "find a job that you love, and you'll never work a day in your life!" for me, storytelling is that job.


WM: where did the idea for the story come?

MH: it started with a question: why are some women attracted to men who have only ill intentions? (e.g.: bad boys) so i surveyed about 100 women, asking questions about relationships, sexuality, and what they look for in a man & why. With that info as such a wonderful resource, i decided to write a screenplay about a nice guy who finishes first, not last.


WM: how were able to cast such a well-known group?

MH: i met mekhi on the set of "clockers" when i was an unpaid set intern and he was making his first movie. We stayed in touch while i was in grad school at nyu film, then i approached him with this project (originally titled "tears of a clown"). He liked the idea of playing a character so different than the ones he had played to that point. Regina hall is a friend from our undergrad days at fordham university. Tangi was fresh out of uc irvine graduate acting school when we cast her in her first role. My cast director, susan shopmaker, was the key to pulling together such a fine, all around cast.


WM: was getting finance for the film a challenge?

MH: i had a sizable bank account as a result of working all those long hours as a legal assistant on wall street. I emptied that account making this movie. When i came up short, my parents filled the void. Thanks mom & dad!!!


WM: .how come you didn't take your film to film festivals as others have done?

MH: it actually did do the festival curcuit, it just happened a long time ago. This was purchased as a result of a screening at the urbanworld film festival in nyc in 1999. It took the distributor until now to get the film to the theaters. This
Movie is their very 1st theatrical release. And the growing pains were often excruciating!


WM: xenon pictures is known for distributing films straight to video or cable,
how did you convince them to take your film to the theaters for the first time?

MH: they've wanted to do this for quite some time, they were just looking for a project that they could afford to purchase with the production value & story quality they felt was worthy of theatrical release. Right after the urbanworld
Screening, in the theater lobby, the company's vp of acqusitions explained this to me and said: "[the other brother] is that film.


WM: was it comfortable serving three functions (writer, director, and producer)?

MH: it was. It felt very natural to me because it's the way i learned, and the only way i've ever made films. The problem came when i also had to work as the 1st a.d. and act in the film. That was a bit much. But i had a great crew and a wonderful cast. That made the experience, on a whole, fun & exciting! I wouldn't change a thing.


WM: what is the goal of your company, del flix pictures?

MH: on the film side, i want engage other artists so that i can produce for other directors, direct the scripts of other writers, and write scripts for other directors. On the television side, i want to write both half-hour sit-coms for
Networks and hour long dramas for either network or cable tv.


WM: what's next on your slate?

MH: i have another romantic comedy script currently making the rounds at the studios in la. I hope to get that project in pre-production within the next 12 months.