Award of Excellence – “Club City” (USA)

Title: Club City
Runtime: 10 min
Country: USA
Director: Gino Terrell
Placement: Award of Excellence
Competition: March 31, 2020

Synopsis: Undercover cop Andre Mathews (Tyreese Daley), who insists on working alone, is sent in to a nightclub to take down Club City’s owner ROC (Gino Terrell). Mathews somehow finds himself partnered with club regular Freddi Hu (Bounsue “Kerry” Fongthavisay) and the two encounter conflicts with other patrons.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Gino Terrell – Director, Executive Producer and Film Editor

GS: What was the inspiration for your film?

GT: The inspiration behind this film was to a create a cop theme short film. My personal favorite genre is crime drama. I love buddy cop films and TV shows. Some of my personal favorites are Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop and The Last Boy Scout, and televisions shows like Fastlane, Miami Vice and Nash Bridges. While the style and feel of Club City differ from those mentioned prior, the initial thought was to create the type of film that I’d love to see on the big screen or on television. With this being my first film, even on a shoe string budget, I still wanted to pursue that goal the day I realized my directorial debut film would be a crime drama. It all started in the spring of 2019 when I was binge watching Nash Bridges.

GS: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

GT: I attended a local short film festival in March 2019 (in Minnesota). There, I thought to myself I should really make my own short film. While binge watching Nash Bridges that spring, I knew then I wanted a crime drama, Twin Cities cop themed short film. With this being my first film I tried to lean on the knowledge I had gained since I began getting involved in the Twin Cities film scene in 2017. As an actor, I had occasional acting gigs in commercials and in local films, mainly as an extra or featured extra and, at times, as an entry level crew member. March 2019 I did land a lead role in a music video (DROELOE’s “Only Be Me”) that would come out in May. Wanting to do more, my goal was to have a script by the summer for my debut film. While I saw little spurts of my vision, such as a club setting and a cop(s) finding themselves in a dangerous situation, I couldn’t quite get a script together. From March 2019 through November 2019, I struggled to create a script. Despite the writer’s block, I was determined to accomplish this dream. For me, it was important to do it before the end of 2019, before the decade ended. So I went out and made a hefty offer to my older brother Mario Lamar Terrell II to write a script. I told him I wanted a cop theme script that involved a night club, and asked if he could have a draft sent to me the day before Thanksgiving (a week later). In less than 48 hours, he provided me a script titled “Club City” that was suppose to be a “rough draft,” but it was very, very good as I immediately fell in love with it. It was definitely well worth the compensation. Immediately after, I made it a point that this film had to be shot before the year was over.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

GT: Initially, the most challenging part for me was trying to tell a story in such short amount of time, which I struggled with when I tried to write the script. However, screen writer Mario Lamar Terrell II is a genius. He was able to cover so much in such a short amount of time. Very blessed to have him on board.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

GT: Mainly getting the location for “Club City.” That and having limited funds were the biggest obstacles. I had to fund the entire project out of pocket as I didn’t have any grants or donations for this project. Another major obstacle discovered during the editing stage was when the opening sequence of the film did not turn out right. I had to make a decision to call an emergency reshoot. I realized if I let the scene be, I’d forever regret it. While it was challenging getting everyone needed for the reshoot on short notice, it worked out. Thinking back I’m so glad I called for that reshoot. This made a big difference in the final product of the film.

GS: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

GT: Just go for it. If you can seek help with funding definitely do. This was my first time as a director and while I learned so much working on other sets, there was no greater teacher of being a filmmaker than the experience of your first project. Allow yourself plenty of time to correct things and if you are willing to learn as you go, you will be fine. Lean on what you learned from class, watching the “Making of” from your favorite movie/television show and your crew. When building out your crew find people who can do the job and are hungry for success. Not everyone will match your vibe or care as much as you, so be selective and do not be afraid to stand up for your film when push comes to shove. Stand up for your vision and enforce your vision. Some people may not believe in it, however, my mindset is I’d rather receive flak for my vision than flak for a vision I altered only for the sake of pleasing someone else.