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September 2007
An Interview with Kene Holiday

An Interview with Kene Holiday

By Wilson Morales

September 10, 2007

It’s been a long time since he’s been on the big screen, but Kene Holiday is back and in a lead role. Mostly known for his television roles on ‘Matlock’, ‘The District’ and countless other TV shows, Holiday walked away from the entertainment business some years and became an Evangelist. He’s traveled the world exploring new opportunities, but when a good script comes along, the temptation is hard to resist. In ‘Great World of Sound’, he plays one of two guys traveling the states looking for music talent and go through the usual growing pains of trying to make a buck. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Holiday talks more in-depth about the film, the connection with his real-life work, and what he learned from this film.

What is ‘Great World of Sound’?

Kene Holiday: Everyone you see in this film is trying to better their lives, one way or another. We are record producers, myself and my co-star, Pat Healey. He plays a character called Martin and I play a character called Clarence. We answer an ad in the newspaper that asked if you wanted to be a record producer. We showed up and are ‘selected’ amongst hundreds and hundreds of applicants. We set unto the world to find talent by placing ads in local newspapers and the talent comes in to be interviewed and is ‘discovered’. We are in the age of American Idol and instantaneous fame. They are people that think because they sound good at a barbecue that they can be a start too, and in some cases, that’s too. So the deal is this, ‘How much are you willing to stake in your life to make your dream a reality?’

That’s where you find these two guys roaming through the South, Charlotte, Nashville, and other small towns, searching out talent, and it gets to a moral crisis because you find out the ‘hustlers’, the record producers are themselves being hustled by the company so it causes moral dilemmas and conflicts between the two main characters. It’s really interesting to watch this thing develop. Guys who are used to doing odd jobs suddenly see themselves approaching the dream, the lottery of employment.

As a real-life evangelist who travels a lot on the road, did any part of this film connect with what you do?

KH: Well, I took a sabbatical from my ministry work so I could take on this film. My character Clarence allowed me a freedom to explore what I do. I’m an actor. I’m a fantastic actor and I love what I do. I’ve been doing this for a very long time. For the record, I’m in my 19th year of sobriety and there was a point in time when my life was a mess, alcohol and drugs. I’m a child of the 60s and we did the things that we did to the point of near death and there came a point in time where I made a choice or God made a choice for me. Some people are afraid to say this but I will tell you, God spoke to me and told me, ‘Hey, you have 90 days to decide whether you want to live and work for me or continue your pursuit and die.” Now some would say that it was a hallucination subject to the things that you were injecting to your body but I know what I heard and so I made an effort to live and when I made that decision, I didn’t turn back. I’ve had 18 ½ years of uninterrupted sobriety and in the midst of that, many, many things have taken place. I chose to pursue a higher knowledge and experience of my spiritual self, my spiritual blessing, and my spiritual gifts. I stepped away from Hollywood. I left for 10 years and folks are asking, ‘Where have you been?’ Well, I’ve been all over the world. I was in South Africa. I was in Africa twice and then in China and all over the Caribbean, South America, Canada, and all over the United States. I’ve been to all sorts of places experiencing this wonderful Earth and learning many things about the spirituality and a consciousness and presence of God. Clarence came along during that period when I stepped away from the world and told me that there are things that I have experienced within that realm that I cannot reconcile myself with because I do fear God. I respect God. I respect my body and he’s been very good to me and very patient with me and he has kept his hand over my life; throughout my entire existence. When Clarence came along, I was in New York caring for my sick mother. This was in October 2002 and I never left. Although I’ve traveled here and there, I never left New York. ‘Great World fo Sound’ was being shot in Charlotte, North Carolina and I had never been there. I’d done some road shows nearby and made some friends, but I had never really established myelf with the community. So I went and had the opportunity to be there for an extended period of time and I loved it. I fell in love with the city and met a beautiful woman whom I loved dearly and she’s now my wife. She’s from down there and we just made one heck of a movie. We opened it at Sundance and received rave reviews from the New York Times, the L.A Times and all the big papers. This is what independent filmmaking should look like. It shouldn’t look like this auction block that we have in most of the big festivals we have right now. People cannot figure out how much the movie cost which is a very interesting point. People think we did everything from $300,000 to $500,000 to $3 million to put this movie together because of how it looks like, but the movie cost $82,000 from the initial shoot and it looks good. The people behind it all came from the North Carolina School of the Arts, director Craig Zobel, producer David Gordon Green, and Melissa Palmer, and they know their stuff. This is a generation of filmmakers who raised doing films through computers and they know their stuff. I was so fascinated watching the process. They have done a spectacular job the film through the internet.

How was it working with the cast?

KH: Well, people forget that there’s an age difference between me and Pat because we look like we’re the same age. We are going through the same journey. Although there is a chronological difference, you can’t see it on the screen because the energy is so simpatico, so imbalanced.

What did you learn from making this film?

KH: I learn something from everything I do. What I learned is that as much as I know from making films, and I’ve been making films since 1969-70 and what I learned is that there is so much more that I can learn now. The advent of the computer into the film industry is so incredible, but the bottom line is that the art in telling a story hasn’t changed. Tell the story well so that the audience can appreciate it and appreciate your craftsmanship in bringing them to that point.

What do you want folks to walk away with after seeing this film?

KH: I want them to walk away saying, “Hey, these guys did a fine job in telling a story about the recording industry and the aspect of it, which we call song sharking. It’s an educational film as well as entertaining film. It is daring because of the format. You have no idea about the people who respond to ads when looking to be discovered and we took them through the process of auditioning them and trying to encourage them to make their dream come true. The deal was how much of you willing to invest in your dream? I want folks to be smart when searching for your dream.

GREAT WORLD OF SOUND opens on September 14th, 2007


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