Filmmaker Joseph Chopin stresses the big break is on the way for young people
Rolling out recently attended The Creative Cypher’s event #Cypherlive and had the privilege of meeting many new and interesting filmmakers. Joseph Chopin was one of them. He will be releasing a movie called The Almighty in August. We had the opportunity to interview him and his thoughts are insightful and purposeful. Check out the interview below.
Tell us who you are and why film inspires you.
My name is Joseph Michael Chopin. I am a movie producer raised in many places around the United States of America. Most of my life I have grown up in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Our role models in the film and entertainment industry have done a unique job in enticing me for my entire life by creating an everlasting curiosity about the movie business that has not yet died in my spirit. I hope that I will love film as much as I do today, forever. When I see a young man or a young woman who desires to be in the film industry, and they are going through “the unknown” phase in their personal life, I see and understand their desire to create a world different than the one they are in. It is this desire that inspires me to create. The desire of trying to get back into the world I created for myself is very difficult. To break it down further …
When I was in kindergarten, I had no idea what I loved, in fact, I did not even know that I could have the idea to decide to love anything. I lived in a world that had not yet been touched by the world, I was in my “unknown” phase of life. Every Friday was a half day for me in kindergarten, so my teacher Mrs. Banks who loved me dearly, would play the movie Free Willy, or another similar movie for the children to watch. On the cassette version of the Free Willy movie, in the beginning before the actual movie begins, there is a live performance from Michael Jackson – “Will you be there” is the name of the song. I was captivated by his voice and performance and fell in love with the movie, thus entering the world of film and entertainment. Because I attended a 7th Day Adventist school, Mrs. Banks fast forwarded through the remainder of Michael’s performance, and I remember running across the room to beg her to let it play through. Mrs. Banks looked down at me and said something along the lines of “This music is secular, and if you want to listen to it, listen to it at home” – Her logic at the time confused me, because I saw no sense in playing the movie, and then fast forwarding through Michael’s portion. Nevertheless, I was convinced that producing movies was my future. Movies like Free Willy give me enough inspiration to take something broken and fix it. I see our society as broken and misguided – I use film as my tool to help fix the world we live in.
What was it about seeing Free Willy that had you make up your mind at such a young age to become a film producer?
Free Willy is a film about a troubled/homeless child named Jesse who ends up getting caught by the police for vandalism and placed in the foster system. His community service requirement is to clean the graffiti he sprayed off of the whale tank he vandalized. From my understanding, Jesse is a kid who was in the “unknown” phase in his life, but when he found Willy, the whale that eventually became his friend – Jesse instantly knew from that point, what he wanted to be and what he needed to do to achieve it. The path way to film producing came to me in the same way. I saw that movie and loved it so much, that I wanted to understand the movie, I wanted to be inside of the movie and eventually wanted to know why and how the movie was made.
After watching Daphne’s Dream and the trailer for The Almighty I feel a sense of wonder and a yearning for understanding when it comes to this vast universe, is this true and how would you describe your story telling and film making style?
Yes, this is true, the universe plays a big part in the way I write my films. Movies like Daphne’s Dream and The Almighty come from places in my life where time does not exist. To me, the universe beyond our society is very important in understanding one’s self. When I enter the world I created for myself to begin the process of writing my films, time does not exist for me. This makes things achievable for me and allows me to move at any pace I want. One day, I thought back to many years ago and tried to remember what time it was. I looked everywhere for a clock and could not find one, and then I realized that at the time I was thinking, clocks did not exist. I placed so much value on time in my life that I forgot that the universe never stops moving, no matter what time the clock reads. I use this fact to influence my movies and I create worlds that do not end or begin. The way I make my films is the way I live my life.
To watch Daphne’s Dream, Click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAMiH3rbLAQ
To watch Daphne’s Dream “Behind the Scenes” click this link: https://vimeo.com/95281663
In your production reel you mention that America thrives off of media. Could you explain what you mean by that?
American society is heavily influenced by anything that is popular. If salesman No. 1 influences 200,000 people to purchase a T-shirt that has no initial value, the popularity of that T-shirt will spread and before you know it, 20,000,000 people would have purchased that tee shirt. If the demand for the tee shirt is so high, the salesman might raise the price so that he will benefit from the popularity of the shirt. If salesman #2 likes salesman No. 1’s tee shirt idea, but decides that he can sell a better tee shirt at a lower price, then salesman No. 2 would be directly affecting salesman No. 1’s popularity rating, thus affecting his sales and profit. Today, there are over 300 million people who live in our country, and with the influence of the television, all of us are selling or buying something. I believe that the physical idea of the television or the computer screen creates value on items that may not actually have any value at all. America thrives off of media because it is the key to capitalism.
To watch a 99 Years Studios commercial, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KriukogMcRg
How has growing up in Benton Harbor influenced your filmmaking?
I have lived in Benton Harbor, Michigan, for over 10 years of my life, and although it is awesome to live right next to Lake Michigan, and the summers here are beautiful, the actual city of Benton Harbor does not go through very many changes annually like cities such as Chicago, which stands directly across the lake. Because of the low activity level here in Benton Harbor, I decided to use my resources to create my company 99 Years Studios, LLC. When I was 13, my mother moved me and my two brothers to Benton Harbor Michigan from Queens, NY. At the time, she was working on her doctoral degree in Psychology at the University of Andrews in Berrien Springs Michigan. At that age I knew clearly that I wanted to be a movie producer because of my love for movies like Free Willy and Casper The Friendly Ghost – I continued to ask my Mom if she can send me back to New York to live with my Dad so that I can study at a school for the arts (Because Southwest Michigan does not have many opportunities for young film makers) But she could not afford to send me back, or to place me in a school for the arts – So I created 99 Years Studios, LLC – A movie company dedicated to changing the world through motion pictures. My goal in the beginning was to write movies that would rival television shows. Because I never had the tools around me to create the movies I wanted to create, I used every bit of my energy in writing what will soon be the greatest movie in the history of cinema – That movie is called: “99 Years” and it is a story about two children who love one another, but are forbidden to be together. This movie concept came to me while living in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
To see the 99 Years Process, click this link: https://vimeo.com/38873431
What is important for you to capture when you are behind the camera?
I enjoy capturing moments that are unscripted. Sometimes I will keep the camera rolling between takes to try and catch little moments of love, laughter, tears or hatred from a subject. I enjoy working with people that have never acted before, or that have no desire to be an actor at all – I have practiced this quite a bit throughout my career because of the awkward feeling the person gives off on camera – It is almost like the person is trying to do it right, but does not really know if they are going to succeed or not. This feeling makes it real for me because of the way people in our society handle certain situations. When I am in the grocery store, I might see a woman swipe her credit card, and her transaction might be denied due to lack of funds. I watch the woman along with 10 other customers’, become nervous and dig inside of her purse to swipe another card – she does not know if her second attempt will work, but she is willing to hold up the line to try it anyway. Eventually there is an strange feeling between the other customers’ waiting in line and herself. If she takes too long then people will begin to move to other checkout lanes because they place tremendous value on their time. But I like to watch and see if she is successful with her attempt. Those types of situations define how my actors must think in order to understand my film work.
To watch our work at The 56th Annual Chicago Emmy Awards, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4rmnCi_HR4
You will be premiering your new film, The Almighty, in August. Tell us about it.
The concept for The Almighty Movie came from a conversation I had with my fiancée. The phrase “The Almighty” was used in a very hysterical sentence and our conversation inspired me to write a poem called “Love and Peace Almighty” – Some of the words to the poem read:
“You are peace, and I am love. The road so long, the radio songs, the sweat between our palms. You are peace and I am love. The kiss so strong, the pictures drawn, the distance between our arms. You are peace and I am love.” – The full poem is spoken in the movie.
The Almighty symbolizes suspended time in the mind of the main character – CLOE. The audience will only see random situations happening on the screen because what is actually being shown are CLOE’S internal thoughts about her love life before she has an epiphany and realizes that The Almighty decides everything in our lives. CLOE is a woman who has been with many lovers and does not understand why she has not fallen in love. One day she asks GOD for love and he appears to her and gives her the love that she requests. CLOE finds herself in a bed with a man that she does not know. CLOE ends up having a very unusual conversation with this man in a coffee shop and what he says to her opens her mind to the concept of patience.
I decided that The Almighty is an important movie for my company to produce this year because it is important to promote the concept of patience with all of the people who work at Chopin Productions. As young filmmakers, we have not had our “big break” and as much as we can see it happening mentally, physically and spiritually our time has not yet come. So creating a film that focuses on the concept of patience created a stronger team at our company. We are now ready for our major motion picture.
To purchase tickets to The Almighty click this link: http://www.showclix.com/event/thealmightymovie/listing
To watch the trailer to The Almighty Movie click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8F0LQaMHJM
To watch a promo video for The Almighty click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8pfZ8GuEbk
What kind of responsibility do you have as a Black filmmaker?
It is my job to project a new light through film and entertainment.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
Michael Jackson remains to be the most influential person in my life. When I was a kid my mom bought me Michael Jackson’s Thriller album on cassette tape for Christmas. When I first listened to it, I hated it because I did not get the actual toy or gift I wanted. After about one o year of ignoring the tape, I finally listened to it for the second time, and I fell in love with Michael Jackson’s music for life. Michael Jackson’s words mean the world to me, because he not only represents peace and love, but truth. Michael’s music has influenced me to write all of my major motion pictures and has given me countless ideas when I am lost or trying to find the world I created for myself. Some of my favorite songs from Michael are: “Wanna Be Startin Somethin” “Will You Be There” “Bad” “Ben” and “Smile” – Michael did not make me want to be a film maker, Michael makes me want to be great at anything I do.
To watch a 99 Years Studios Commercial, click this link: https://vimeo.com/100476410
What else is on the horizon for 99 years Studio Entertainment?
Joseph: The company that I always dreamed of creating focuses on bringing the world together through film. I will always do my best to work with the people of the world to give them the entertainment they want to see, touch, feel and hear. 99 Years Studios Entertainment stands for more than film. 99 Years Studios is a place where original ideas manifest and become the greatest experience any human working with us can will ever have. We not only give our audience the experience of a life time – we give our crew and cast an experience they will never forget. As the CEO/Founder of 99 Years Studios, I know that I will create the greatest movie in the history of cinema, but until then, I am working on my next movie – A movie so thrilling that it will leave you in a world of wonder. Our next movie is going to be so great, that our audience must decide a brand new genre for it. Our next movie is going to be so awesome.
What is the meaning of life from your perspective?
Time doesn’t exist from my perspective; life is forever.
Eddy Lamarre aka Precise is a hip-hop artist-writer-actor from Chicago. The Chicago Reader recognized “Ladies Love Mixtapes” his latest release as one of the best projects of 2014. Listen/Buy Ladies Love Mixtapes at: https://precise.bandcamp.com/album/ladies-love-mixtapes-the-ep