Teenage brothers make ‘Pseudo,’ a short film inspired by Alton Sterling police murder

 

The filmmakers of “Pseudo” are the Turner brothers, Justen, 15, and Julien, 19.

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

Justen, 15, and Julien Turner, 19, of Pickerington, Ohio, are two of the youngest cinema creators selected to screen at the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year. Their film “Pseudo” is hands down one of festival director Kali O’Ray’s favorite films selected to screen, and it is under 10 minutes long.

It creatively makes a political comparison between the police unjustifiably preying on Black people and Blacks in the hood preying on white people. Although I think there has to be a wider discussion about power, white supremacy, capitalism and systematic domination, “Pseudo” is definitely a conversation starter. Everybody watching will be emotionally forced to articulate their ideas and feelings about the way the comparison is cinematically played out.

On the creative end, this teenage dynamic duo are some filmmakers to watch for in the near future. With them producing one of the best shot, most racially and politically polarizing shorts in the festival this year, I could only imagine what ideas they will bring to the silver screen in the next five to 10 years.

Check out what Julien and Justen Turner have to say as they collaborate on the answers to this interview that I did with them through email. Check them out.

M.O.I. JR: What made you want to become a filmmaker? When did you first start making films?

Julien and Justen Turner: We have always had a love for comic heroes, so when we first got the app iMovie in 2011 – we were then 13 years old and 9 years old – we had a field day using different effects from the application. From there, we began to create our own stories and heroes that we imagined could make it to the big screen someday.

As we grew older, we began to realize that we could use film for a lot more than recreational purposes, but to provide a voice for the voiceless and give hope to the hopeless.

M.O.I. JR: What inspired the creation of “Pseudo”?

Julien and Justen: In the recent news and media outlets covering police relations with minorities, we realized that what was sorely lacking in much of the coverage was empathy – particularly with respect to the Alton Sterling ruling. We decided to create a story that would hopefully bridge different points of view on the subject.

M.O.I. JR: What does the name of the film mean in relation to the film?

Julien and Justen: We wanted the film’s name to reflect our attempt in this short to shine a light on the biased lens through which many of us view one another due to the bogus or “pseudo” conduct of a few within certain groups.

M.O.I. JR: How long did this film take from pre-production to post production?

Julien and Justen: It took about six weeks total.

M.O.I. JR: Me and some people who watched the film with me debated the meaning of “Pseudo.” What is the message you wanted to convey? Do you think there is a comparison in power when you compare Black on white violence to police on Black violence?

Julien and Justen: The definition of pseudo is “not genuine; sham.” We wanted to convey that in the various segments of our culture, most of those who give larger groups a bad name usually are not a proper representation of that group. In this case, not all cops are bad, not all Blacks are thugs, and at the end of the day everyone wants to make it home safely.

A scene from the short film “Pseudo” begs the question, is violence by Blacks on whites equivalent to violence by police on Blacks?

And yes, we believe that there is a difference in power when you compare Black on white violence to police on Black violence. That is, in the latter situation, the actions taken are often deemed justified by the justice system, while the former are not.

However, our goal in this film is to show that the fear in someone’s eyes when he or she has been mistaken for the wrong person in a frightening circumstance is the same for everyone, no matter what color or gender.

M.O.I. JR: How did you put your crew together for this film, and how did you cast for it?

Julien and Justen: As brothers, we do most of the lifting when it comes to directing, screen writing, casting and camera operations. However, we are blessed to have the total support of our parents and friends. So whatever role is necessary – whether it be finding a location to film, holding lights or a boom mic – they help us make sure that is covered.

With respect to our white protagonist, Hunter Minor, he is a former high school classmate and is one of the best actors in the area. So when we wrote the story, our immediate thought was to cast him. As for the rest of the cast, we sought out people who we felt would fit each role naturally and who could help us create a realistic and believable setting.

M.O.I. JR: Are you working on anything else?

Julien and Justen: Currently, we have a feature film script written, and we are in the process of writing another short film that will tackle another issue in today’s society – hopefully, with a more entertaining twist.

M.O.I. JR: How do people stay in touch with you online?

Julien and Justen: You can follow us on Twitter @dreadheadfilms, like us on Facebook, at DreadheadFilms, or visit our website to see past productions, dreadheadfilms.com.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportRadio.com.