“You gotta alight the night right or you’ll bite the psych fight,
you see this level dishevels the rebel reveling in hindsight.”
When I wrote that, something sparked alive in me. First, it was disbelief. It’s not Shakespeare, not Black Thought, Jay Z or Lin Manuel Miranda, but as I spoke those lines I thought, “I wrote that? Where the hell did that come from?”
I had been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on loop for months and the rhymes had infected my brain like a virus. Every day, almost every hour, some line from that musical was pulsing on repeat until the point when the pressure was too much and I decided that I needed to let these rhymes out of my head.
The trailer for The Darkest Place.
I revisited an old short film script that I had written – a simple story about a person stuck in their own mind and a second person who helps them escape. It had been a cathartic script designed to break me out of a morning depression, but I couldn’t find the actors to realize a production of it. It sat on the shelf for a year, but now returning to it, I saw the seeds of something new. Why couldn’t I translate this into rhyming verse? Why not try?
So I threw the script away and started again from scratch.
From almost the start, the verses flowed out of me and damn, it was FUN. It was like discovering a secret about myself that I had never known. I mean, I knew I liked hip hop. I grew up in Brooklyn and hip hop was all around me. When I was 10 years old I could rap along with DMX through his entire first album, but I never, ever thought about writing rhymes myself.
Try to imagine this young boy rapping with DMX. Hard to envision, huh?
But I was determined. I thought, "If I'm gonna write this, I'm gonna make this." and reached out to a poet friend who connected me with a couple of talented actors. A few months later, we were filming the thing in a dark cabin in Ithica, NY.
We shot from dusk til dawn, slept a couple of hours, then went home.
And now, the short is complete. It’s not perfect, given how quickly we had to shoot it with a crew of 2, but I love it.
More important, it feels like the beginning of something for me.
The poster for The Darkest Place.