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May 2008
An Interview with Bill Duke

An Interview with Director Bill Duke
By Wilson Morales

May 12, 2008

Mainstream gay films are a very tough sell in Hollywood, even with notable names attached to a project. To even put a film out with that subject matter on a smaller scale and go independent put a heavy burden on the producers to find an audience. Such was the case with ‘Cover’, which came out earlier this year and will be out on DVD on May 13th.

The film is about a church-going home-maker whose life unravels when she discovers that her husband of many years has been leading a double life. Directed by Bill Duke, the film had a lot of familiar faces from Vivica Fox, Aunjanue Ellis, Leon, Maya, and Patti Labelle to name a few, but yet couldn’t find a distributor to put it in over at least 100 theaters. Nevertheless, the film was released and all involved were able to see it go the distance.

In speaking with Director Bill Duke, he talks about the hardship he went through to get this film off the ground and why the subject matter needs to be told to masses.

Can you talk about the journey from getting this film made to getting it in theaters and now on DVD?

Bill Duke: It was a long painful journey. The subject matter is controversial so it was difficult to get the dollars from studios and also from private investors. Finally Fox Faith came on and gave us a certain budget and we raised the rest privately. We went to Philadelphia, a great town, to film the movie. The second week in filming, we had no more funds and we sat in the hotel for two weeks not knowing where to go from there, and finally funding came through, and we went back to LA, but the guys who had hired us at Fox had been both fired. So, as a result, we had to find a new way to distribute it theatrically. Fox did the DVD but we had to find a new way of doing it, and we did, and now it’s coming out on DVD. It was a painful journey but we finally got there.

The subject matter is indeed a matter that’s rarely discussed in film, giving today’s commercialism. Were you aware of that when you decided to put this film together?

BD: Well, people don’t like to talk about uncomfortable things. But when you have things like AIDS in our community, especially in D.C where one in seven black men are infected. Of all the reported cases of AIDS in this country on women, 70% are Black women infected. There are women infected that don’t even know it. These are stats that most folks don’t want to talk about.

How receptive was everyone in the cast initially to be in this film?

BD: A lot of the cast are friends of mine and I’ve known them for years and I’ve worked with them in the past. They were very courageous because of the taboo subject matter and they really came out for it because they believe in the message. From Leon, Vivica Fox, Aunjanue Ellis, Razaaq Adoti, Maya, Roger Guenveur Smith, Patti Labell, and a lot more people.

What should we get from watching the DVD that’s different from watching the film in theaters?

BD: It’s the same thing. Nothing new. It comes out on May 13th, and we’re hoping that people go purchase it because it’s a movie that deals with survival in our community and betrayal and it has a murder mystery.

What else are you working on?

BD: I have several things that I’m working on now. I finished a movie for Sony Screen Gems, a T.D Jakes book that we turned into a film called ‘Not Easily Broken’.

What’s the film about?

BD: ‘Not Easily Broken’, which is based on T.D Jakes’ book, is the belief that all relationships have three things going, the first is the woman, the second is the man, and in the middle there’s God. Every relationship can work as long as you keep God in tact in the relationship. If you let God go, it becomes difficult to hold it together.

Who’s the cast?

BD: We have Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Jenifer Lewis, and just some wonderful people.

When is the next time we will see you act in a film?

BD: The last three years I have spent a lot of time getting my projects off the ground and what I have fundamentally been doing is looking for investors and putting together a company structure both from a profit and non-profit entity and mostly producing, directing, and writing.

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