Monday, January 24, 2022

Warrior Pride Teaches Life Lessons Through Basketball

*Independent movies usually lack in one or more aspects of their production.  Lackluster locations, sound quality issues, low budget cinematography, inexperienced acting staff, or poor quality editing has given the term ‘independent film’ a negative stigma.  However, that rough, raw and naive approach is but a veil that covers creative genius and overcoming those obstacles makes up the challenge that is filmmaking.

Filmmaker and director Janaya Black really shows her creativity in imagining and presenting a world filled with sport, love, and God in her latest film entitled Warrior Pride.

Like Black, even the greatest filmmakers had their first attempt at making a film.  None were of the quality that they create today, but many had a star quality that defined them and pushed the maker to create more.  For Black, and her team of creators, Warrior Pride is that project that answers the questions regarding making future projects. Would they be able to handle the large budgets of a conventional blockbuster?  Do they have the skills to produce quality work? After reviewing Warrior Pride, that answer should be positive.

The reality is that the only thing that the ‘low budget’ films lack is a decent budget.  They can’t afford a film composer with a big studio, so they found a way to score their film for free on their PC.  This guerrilla approach of getting it done with little to no money is the one aspect that is always overlooked when it comes to independent films.  It is easy to look at the production flaws, and derive a surface level opinion without understanding the true struggle that is involved with making a feature-length film.

While the team behind Warrior Pride didn’t necessarily use ‘guerrilla tactics’ to produce this film, it is obvious that they can put together a decent film with a limited budget.  It’s almost unfair to criticize any aspect of a low budget film, almost.

In all fairness, big-budget films avoid are better because they pay experts to remove problems from the film.  Actors have coaches and assistants to make sure they deliver the lines appropriately. If the actor fails to meet the standard, they re-shoot it till they get it right.  Cut-scenes are scrutinized and re-shot until they match the director’s vision. Special effects are applied to make the scenes more impactful. The film is worked on until it is right.  

Independent films must rely on ingenuity and creativity to get the film done and sometimes they are forced to use what they have, even though they know that it is not better.  Budget, time, manpower and equipment sometimes limit what can and can’t be done.

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Rockey Black, a veteran Armature Athletic Union coach, left, starred in the Warrior Pride film, and his wife, Janaya Black, right, wrote and directed the film.

Warrior Pride is a good example of an independent film that defies expectation while clearly existing in the ‘low budget’ film category.  Warriors shine despite rudimentary cinematography, a plethora of first-time actors, no special effects, and no high profile stars.

Where Warrior Pride shine, is in the plot and character development.  The characters are able to connect with each other emotionally and it is shown in their actions.  Each character has a clear goal and is either supported or discouraged through the other characters goals.  These basic writing fundamentals are clearly in use in this film.

There were a good number of characters in the movie, but the writers did a good job of making it easy by casting a wide range of personalities, races and body types.  No two actors looked the same, and no two actors had the same personality. Everytime an actor spoke or did something, it moved the plot forward.

The director and writer didn’t go into detail about how to play basketball, nor does this film expose any insight into basketball strategy.  This film describes relationships and emotions.

It is said that a good song can make a bad singer sound good.  A good example is Mary J. Blige. Mary is a decent singer, but the quality of her songs are outstanding.  They hit home with meaning and their rhythms stick in your mind. When Mary’s songs are sung by other, more talented singers, the listener usually says, “She didn’t sing it like Mary.”

Janaya Black is in position to be the Mary J. Blige of filmmaking.  Her story is weaved with the interaction of a sports team trying to win and allows what some would label unskilled actors to shine like Cicily Tyson opposite Denzel in dramatic climaxes throughout the film.  

Low production value adds to the gritty-ness and realism of this look into the life of the unfortunate living in the inner city and those who struggle against odds to help them.  Despite being shot in the affluent looking section of the suburbs, the interaction and experiences of the characters override the backdrop and clearly separates the affluent characters from the struggling characters.

Centered by the game of basketball the movie exposes the underside of those who use sports as a means of becoming successful.

The coach versus the world plot structure sets up multiple antagonists and makes for the foundation of the film’s theme of love, family, and God.  It also provides the background for the individual characters to express their struggles. As each character explains their problems and seeks a resolution the plot is pushed forward.  The characters are relatable, yet generic enough to be believable.

Everyone knows the overprotective parent that pushed their child to excel where they could not, the child who can’t escape the influence of a controlling parent, the abusive parent who makes the wrong decisions, or that perfect coach who just can’t stand up to temptation.  

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You are one of these characters, or you know one or more of them.  They might not play basketball, but the emotion is still the same. And we should treat our life serious just like they do in the movie.  

The final verdict is that the film wins with the emotional climax that can set up a powerful family discussion.  Any sports teams should sit as a group and watch this film. Family oriented, with no sexual innuendoes, no sex scenes, no raunchy statements this is a lifetime movie shot in the hood.  There is virtue shown in every character, as well as flaws, and each character is changed by the end of the film and you cheer and cry along with them.

Understand that the film isn’t all positive in the end, which sets up the potential for real conversations.  The characters don’t all win. Their decisions on and off the court seek to define and answer questions such as, if your grades are low should you continue to try in school?  Should you go the struggling team with morals or go with the team that offers the fast track to success? Will you cheat to win? Do your elder’s words matter? Is there a reason to limit yourself just to fit in on a team? What’s more important, your friends or winning?

This is a must watch for any family or sports team, school group, family or organization interested in improving behavior and moral.  You are invited to use this story as a script for your post-movie group conversation. Ask these questions of each other and grow as a person, at the same time, improve the group’s cohesiveness.  

For more information about Warrior Pride, please go to www.black-smithenterprises.com.

Tieuelium
A writer, illustrator and photographer.

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