Q&A with “Five Star” director Keith Miller
I asked director Keith Miller a few questions about his new film Five Star, which he is in town to present along with his lead actor, James “Primo” Grant. You can watch the film, and meet both of them, at screenings Thursday at 6pm and Friday at 8:30pm, both at the Rep.
Here’s the synopsis:
“In a blend of fiction and reality, FIVE STAR explores the relationship between two men – Primo, an actual gang leader in the East New York Bloods, and John, a young man trying to decide whether gang life is the path for him. As Primo mentors John in the workings of the gang world, a secret threatens both men’s futures. The film is a nuanced portrait of two men struggling with gang life, and an intimate contemplation on manhood in the modern urban environment.”
What drew you to this story and why was it important to you to make this film?
Keith Miller: I want to make films that address real world issues in a deeply human way while always remaining conscious of a few key issues. Among them are issues of representation, masculinity, social and political realities, and ways of telling a story that feels of our time.
What was your biggest challenge in making it?
KM: Since I choose to work in the space between so-called reality and fiction, there’s always the risk that a lot of reality spills in. That’s why I do it, but at times that gets pretty messy, unpredictable and difficult to keep under control. When that happened I had to keep a pretty cool head and be clear of the larger picture.
How did you find and cast Primo?
KM: I met Primo through Shannon Harper, the star of ‘Welcome to Pine Hill‘. They had been bouncers in the same bar. I did a short piece with him called Gang Banging 101 and after that he expressed interest in doing a longer piece. Through our conversations I began to develop a story that was in part inspired by some of the things he talked about.
What do you hope audiences will leave the film talking about?
KM: I wanted to look at the complications, challenges and nuances of manhood, fatherhood and father-son relationships. I hope viewers learn about their own views on these subjects. If there is a hope for learning built in to the movie, it is to challenge assumptions about what a father looks like, and who might be a good father. This would include someone who is a part of any collection of people, social or economic group or gang.
Have you been to Little Rock or LRFF before? What are you looking forward to?
KM: Never been so I’m looking forward to it all!
By Cameron Zohoori