Imagine dedicating more than a decade to your craft, only to find the world to shut down a few weeks before. That’s where Los Angeles-based filmmaker Marcellus Cox found himself this April during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a great deal at stake and a big decision to finalize. However, the pandemic didn’t stop Cox from bringing his vision to life.
Cox wrote and directed the short film “Mickey Hardaway,” which is a part of the Capital City Black Film Festival (CCBFF)’s official selections! In 2016, Cox’s film “Love” won second place in the best short category and “Rise Up” took third place in the short documentary category.
“We just made our own guidelines as we went, but we made sure everyone was safe,” Cox said. “It was not the easiest thing in the world to do.”
Cox managed a crew of five creatives as opposed to a 15 to 20-person team, which helped him maintain social distancing guidelines properly. His small team was required to wear face masks at all times, while actors only needed to wear them while rehearsing. Sets were properly disinfected prior to filming, a cost Cox had to cover on his own. Complications, however, arose.
“The day of shooting, our lead actress who was supposed to play the mother in the film, actually quit on us because of [COVID-19],” he said. “Not only did we shoot during the middle of the pandemic, but we [also] shot in the middle of a Black Lives Matter rally taking place in Santa Monica,” Cox said. “So, as [we were] shooting, you can actually hear the protest in the background. We’re dealing with all of this, and we’re like ‘Hey, whether we believe it or not, we’re making history at this moment.’”
Although it was far from the first film under his belt, “Mickey Hardaway” is the first script Cox wrote all the way back in 2005. It talks about a young sketch artist’s interactions with his therapist. Cox made it a point to explore mental health as a theme because of his own battles. He also wanted to highlight members of the Black community who lost the battle along the way.
“I’ve actually known people who have mental issues because of the way the world has pounced on them,” Cox says. “And I’m talking about really talented people like cats who could have played in the NBA. I know one who wanted to be a doctor, and his mother said he wasn’t good enough to be a doctor. And he ended up killing himself because there was nothing else he wanted to do.”
Follow Cox on Vimeo to learn more about his work, and purchase tickets now to watch his film “Mickey Hardaway” this weekend!