American director Rhyan LaMarr on inspiration for the next film in the UAE

The word ‘passion’ comes to mind when you listen to Rhyan LaMarr talk about his upcoming film ‘North of the Ten’. The American director and writer, best known for helping the indie drama ‘Canal Street’ in 2018, was filming in the United Arab Emirates following parts of the comedy drama that follows the journey of five friends who try to make it big make at the beginning of the social media influence wave. LaMarr has starred people who themselves play social influencers, including model Don Benjamin, actor DeStorm Power and social media personality Adam Waheed. According to a statement, the film will also feature artists Chance The Rapper and actors Terrence J and Samer Al Masry. The film will take place in Chicago, where the director comes from, with some parts being filmed in the UAE. But what does ‘North of the Ten’ mean? ‘North of the Ten is a highway in Hollywood, California. If you live in LA and are trying to get to Hollywood, you’re trying to go up North of the Ten, ‘LaMarr said in a telephone interview with Gulf News in late May when he was in a car to Abu Dhabi sat down. . ‘That’s the literal meaning of it. But the movie is about chasing your dreams to Hollywood. “North of the ten is a state of mind, not a physical thing,” he added. “Everyone is trying to get North of the Ten, no matter if you’re in the UAE, in Chicago or in New York, everyone’s trying to get North of the Ten – which means everyone’s pursuing their dream.” LaMarr is the latest in a long line of filmmakers to come to the country to take their films. Other projects that have taken advantage of the diverse landscape of deserts and modern cloud fields include Hollywood missions ‘Mission: Impossible’, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Dune’ and Bollywood blockbusters ‘Happy New Year’ and ‘Dabangg’. “It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world,” LaMarr said of the UAE, explaining why he wants to take part in his film here. ‘I come from the south side of Chicago … If we want to make a movie like this, we really want to step out of the box and create something so that people can literally go from the south side of Chicago to one of the most beautiful. places in the world, ”he said. “And that’s what we did. At the end of the day, if you are going to shoot for the stars, you might as well shoot for the stars. ”

Rise of social media

Admittedly, social media is a big part of the daily lives of millions around the world, and the rise of influencers has changed the landscape of pop culture, music, sports and more. But LaMarr did not want to focus on the TikTok stars of today. Asked why he wants to center the film in the early social media world, LaMarr said, “Because it’s the beginning.” “You have these individuals trying to make it and being something in their careers and their lives come down to something,” he said of the characters in the film. “They hindered influencing the whole world by closing the door on their faces a million times … they finally created something they did not even know they were creating.” LaMarr sees influencers today as game changers competing with big Hollywood stars. ‘These are people who play on a different tune and have an unapologetic influence [others], “He said,” they inspire. Ten or 20 years ago you looked up to Tom Cruise or Will Smith; today they look up to DeStorm [Power], Don Benjamin and King Bach. This is another world we live in. We did not have Instagram and Facebook and Twitch and Twitter on our phone. We used our phone to call people, now you use your phone to say ‘what should I wear today’? “

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To be inspired

The director hopes that ‘North of 10’ will encourage the public to – as he says – look in their own backyards for creative inspiration. ‘People try to get out many times and the whole world fills up … [but] you have everything in you to make it, ”he said. “Whether it is wisdom, network, strength, endurance, your personality. Everything that drives you to do so is already within you. What I want people to walk away from [with after watching the film] is that it takes a team to succeed, but it also takes confidence and self-awareness to motivate yourself to win. ‘ LaMarr is full of ideas and positivity about his work and the future, and he knows these are some of the qualities he needs to succeed as a black man in the world. ‘As a black man in the world, there is a system designed to fail. But you learn that you can step out of the system to create and defeat the system, ” the filmmaker said. ‘It’s becoming a superpower as a black man, it’s your superpower to walk into the room and be looked at differently. You take it to empower yourself not to discourage yourself. ” He said he was proud of his heritage and that “by being special, enables you to create things that the normal person would not be able to use.” This is also one of the reasons why he appreciates the cultural diversity of the UAE. ‘I’m just proud to be able to work between different cultures, races and beliefs. This is what I like about the UAE. It’s a group of individuals living together under one roof, and I think that’s nice, ‘he said.

New side of Chicago

LaMarr also hopes his film can change the grainy image of his hometown of Chicago. ‘When you hear of Chicago, you think of violence and gang activity, you think of corruption. “I might get some flakes for this, but I think Chicago is the biggest city on the planet,” he said. “You see Chicago being portrayed in the media, TV and film, and all you see is police, gravel, murder, gang life … but there are other stories.” The filmmaker, who is also a musician and music video director, admitted that it was difficult to work on films during the pandemic, but says it’s all in a day’s work for him and his Red Guerrilla Entertainment team. ‘I would be lying if I said it was not difficult on a personal level. “To be in a world where people are dying and there is a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “From a professional point of view, we have always been out of the box and independent. So if you have a creative person [person] and you say here’s a new task you need to do [during a pandemic], it actually becomes a big challenge. So we were able to succeed. ” “It’s not like we’re just started raising funds and putting this idea together. We have been working on this for the past 3 years. So it happens during the pandemic, but we have already planned to get it going, ‘LaMarr added. ‘North of the Ten’ is long in the making and he says the core of the story rises above battle – like the one he himself faced. “It’s loosely based on everyone I know personally, from Don Benjamin, the lead actor, who lived in a one-bedroom house with five of his friends trying to make it, to myself homeless and Elijah also homeless,” he said. “We compiled this story from our humble beginnings in our careers to where we are now. It’s almost like art that mimics life.”

Never-say-the attitude

When asked what he is most excited about for the future of the film, and LaMarr again wants to provide inspiration to the world through his never-say-it attitude. “I’m excited to create something out of the box that the world will be able to experience,” he said. ‘There are a lot of people who would say’ just keep it in Chicago and go get a B-roll. Do you really have to fly all the way to the UAE? Are you crazy?’ But if you do it and do it well enough, you have other people who are inspired by it and like, ‘but Red Guerilla did it’. ” It was not easy to film ‘North of the Ten’ during the United Arab Summer and LaMarr spoke about the challenges of a new place. ‘Every step of the way we look at beautiful places in the United Arab Emirates and to be like that is going to be incredible, but you are going to shoot in one of the hottest months; “you bring a crew and a cast to another country where 90 percent of them have never been, and you have to take the end of your film and you do not have the means to take it again,” he said. . “Some people may feel very pressured, and some people like us will feel like OK, it’s going to be difficult, but it’s nothing like what we’ve already done.” “It’s the sauce that inspires the taste buds when people listen,” he added. “You make these films and make them behind the scenes to sit on panels later and motivate people to do better than you.”