“People marching and fighting in the streets. Buildings burning, people dying, tear gas, violence, speeches about rights, and protest. All these things are happening now down the street as I am typing.” These are strong words that give the audience a glimpse of what is yet to come from the talented, Adrian Burks and the incredible, Teddy Wright. Together these two are unstoppable, creatively, professionally and most importantly as family. These two have known each other for 8 years and counting. They are finally going to put their magic together to create the short film, After Laughter.
Burks explains what this project means to them, “As young mixed black males, my co-creator and I have a stake in this story because these are the stories of our family, stories that echo in realism and reality. A lot of these stories we don’t get a glimpse at, but much of these issues we still fight and die for today. It’s about Inclusion.” A powerful story that follows an African American family through three different decades, starting at 1964 and ending in 1988. This film has a couple of different themes amongst it, a couple being, racism and injustice. This has finally become a topic that people are speaking out about. The discomfort of 2020 has brought us many things, but something that I’m sure we will see more of are the arts. I believe the arts will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever. People will come forth to speak out about their personal stories or in this case, a story that stemmed from a dream, and will now become a short film.
Question and Answers With Adrian Burks
I had the opportunity to sit down with Burks to discuss his upcoming project that they are currently in production for. This project was green lit back in September 2020, raised $15,000 in the first 3 days of crowd funding and Damien Chazelle, Director of Lalaland and Whiplash is a backer on this project.
CM: What inspired this short film for you and did you take from personal experiences?
AB: The inspiration for this film came from a dream that I had one night. Sometimes when I sleep I have music playing on my phone and usually the music consist of some form of Jazz or some type of peaceful soundscape.. when I woke up from this dream the song after laughter was playing.. now the first scene and 2nd scene of this film was actually my dream and I elaborated on that from there to create this piece. And yes I think when you create a film you can’t help but to take it from personal experiences either by what you write or direct or act, in my opinion .. it’s a direct representation of you..
CM: Which character do you find yourself relating to the most and why?
AB: I find myself relating a lot to Jamal as well as bits and pieces of Gertrude. I think Gertrude because she’s a super strong character that takes care of things that need to be taken care of and she does it from her heart and her mind it’s like the saying, “my Clear eyes full hearts can’t lose”, situation at so I find solace in that. And Jamaal because he’s a character that has growth, he is resilient, he is strong, but he’s also comical. He likes to add a bit of lightheartedness and in situations that Most would not consider to do that for
CM: You play the character Clevis, did you know anyone like him within your life and what is your process as an actor to become the character?
AB: Yes..I think as a black man growing up and where I grew up, we definitely know Clevis’s (character) Instead of just one person that he truly encapsulates I think that I knew a couple people who were different versions of him. As far as my process to become him like stated before I think that we have a tendency to do what we know, because I grew up with people who I could identify with as clear as his character it helped me to create him but on the other side of that work, as an actor it is important to find pieces that make him relatable as a real person.. Part of the work is to find those things yourself to search within yourself and explore and I hope that it reads across that way on this film
CM: What is the one thing that you want your audience to take away from this short film?
AB: One thing that I want the audience to take away Is that I want them to have their own experiences while watching this film. I think this film is super relatable in a lot of different ways. I think that everyone can take away from this what family dynamic is, and also to how the outside world can affect what happens in the inside world and the family vice versa. I think everyone can understand and relate to that. Also, I think the topics in this film have truth in history.
CM: How does the year 2020 relate back to the theme in After Laughter?
AB: all these things and events that happened in the story or actual events that happened in real life I think that it’s super important to address them because they are still going on today.. this story deals with issues that face a black family during civil rights and beyond.. sound familiar?
What does this project mean to you and why?
AB: This project means a lot to me I think it’s the biggest endeavor that I have taken on myself, and with my team. But also because these are the stories that I and my codirector and cowriter have experienced and have heard and are affected by. So telling these stories are important not just to us but to the next generation and so on
Keep an eye out for the After Laugher. The script, art direction, acting, props and wardrobe will be one for the books. Wright and Burks are just getting started on their creative adventure together. We can’t wait to see what is to come for this creative pair.