Roseland/West Pullman Film-maker Russell Norman
Norman has recently written the movie script “The Land” which is in pre-production, where he anticipates directing and producing. I (Consciousness Magazine) had the opportunity to speak with the gifted and talented Southside Chicago native who dwells throughout the Roseland/West Pullman neighborhoods. Here is what he had to share about his inspiration behind creating such a unique piece of art work. “My inspiration was me wanting to make an impact with my music and my writing, and I decided to create a story that was based in Roseland. I’m from that neighborhood and I see a lot of kids dying every single day. I just wanted to make something that was appealing to the youth that was entertaining but also informative. And at the same time [I wanted to] do something close to home where people can identify in Chicago,” conveys Norman as he proceeds to articulate the harsh ghetto life of Chicago with his latest project. “It’s so much violence, it’s so much killing. You know, a story based around that can really reach people, so I sort of wanted to do it for Chicago; I wanted to do it for the youth and people who love those types of movies and look for something entertaining. I also wanted to balance the entertainment with the realness and the message.”
Norman has recently released the soundtrack and the remix to the soundtrack to “The Land”, having the same title. The film resides as a prelude to the movie. While listening to the soundtrack, I found it to be very exceptional and brilliant as an overall work of a genius. Taken from the soundtrack and produced into a video is the song “SEE 17” that was recently released along with additional songs for video production following shortly. “ “SEE 17”, it’s described as when I was younger regarding how authority figures will always tell the kids that ‘they won’t make it to see 18’ because of the growing statistic of violence in the neighborhood. I was always inundated with statements and messages of negativity that I would die, and how a lot of young black men don’t see 17, 18…21. So I’m surprised that I made it! Now a days its worse, it seems. I really figure these kids are hearing [those negative messages]. So I just wrote a song about how I never thought I would see 17. I thought I would never make it to see 21 and live in a neighborhood that’s so harsh.” Norman continues to speak about the overall spectrum of the songs on the album and how it relates to the movie. “Then I have a song about black queens or black women. I call it a celebration of black womanhood because the black women are the backbone of the black communities. And obviously we’re suffering because the community is suffering. We have to raise up our women who raise up our children. Unfortunately, it seems that they have to raise up the men because there’s a lot missing in the families, mainly the fathers,” descriptively expresses Norman as he hopes to empower his listeners.
Several years ago Norman released the short film “Hell Ain’t Full”, a film that captures the day and life of a young man and his friends who indulge in the everyday ghetto struggle. The film will leave viewers in admiration as the thought provoking plot makes it turn-about. The production received high recognition and praise and won a Black Excellence Award from the DuSable Museum in Chicago. Norman has also contributed to the Emmy Award winning documentary "Find Your Dream: The Bob Love Story”. In regards to “The Land”, the rising film-maker a.k.a ‘The Renaissance Man of this modern day world’ elaborates on what he would like for his viewers or listeners to take with them after watching the film and listening to the soundtrack. “Well, first, I would love for them to realize that this is just a slice of ghetto life, which is also a song on the album, but it’s something real and authentic. I’m trying to give a raw and genuine look at the ghetto from where I’m from without pulling any punches, without trying to cater to people’s sensibility and not offending their sensitivity. I don’t want to mislead my audience. I want to give them something with substance. I’m not trying to bring violence to my people or my community. I’m trying to balance the entertainment aspect, violence and action with a message to show a lot of people what’s going on and how it’s not right. I see a lot of people glorifying this evil that we constantly see in Hollywood. That’s my statement right there. It’s not your typical film. It’s going to involve a lot of things that we deal with in the black community and a lot of ideas that people find popular and that’s glorified. It’s simply wrong for people to glorify violence and drug dealing and they celebrate that instead of abhorring it and detesting it,” says Norman who also has an acting role in the film. “I play a man who lost a family member to violence. He set out to discover who kills his little brother and he finds out it’s a powerful drug dealer in the neighborhood and sets out to bring him to justice, on a street level.”
Some of the talent that Norman looks to star in “The Land” includes two-time Grammy Award-winner actor Tarrey Torae, Randle Michael, who works in television, commercial and theater, Linda Bright Clay who plays Christopher Walken’s wife in the film Seven Psychopaths. She also played the mother in Norman’s short film “Hell Ain’t Full”. Other actors include Rick Stone of the classic film Cooley High , who is playing in a current Chicago play as the blues legend Howling Wolf, and nonetheless the 80 plus year author, Sam Greenlee, who wrote the book The Spook Who Set By The Door, along with a wonderful cast of other talented individuals.