In this exclusive interview Tony Chennault, the Director and Producer of the web series “Oldhead”, tells us more about the inspiration behind the dramatic series.
1) What inspired you to create “Oldhead”?
I was inspired to create the Oldhead web series because of the lack of male leadership in the inner city communities. Growing up I was fortunate to have my older brother Mike and other community authoritative figures serve the role of father figures in my life. Oldheads are a lost commodity nowadays, mainly they been discouraged by today’s youth lack of willingness to take heed to the wisdom and knowledge that’s being given to them. This series is a call to action to bring back the male leadership to the community.
2) What got you started making films?
My passion for film started during my senior year at Villanova University. I knew I didn’t want to pursue a professional basketball career. I lost my passion for the game of basketball. I took an intro to filmmaking class and feel in love with it. Professor McWilliams and Professor Hezekiah Lewis played pivotal roles to me becoming a filmmaker. I started off just writing a lot of scripts for short films. Then I took the initiative to start learning how to do everything from shooting to editing. But my main strengths are directing and writing. My brother Mike Jay who passed away also serve as one of main motivators to becoming a filmmaker. Before Mike was killed as innocent bystander in a shooting, he was in the process of producing a documentary and developing feature film scripts. This passion was passed on to me organically. I didn’t find film, it found me.
3)The story is set in the streets of Philadelphia. Why did you choose to make that the backdrop?
We chose Philadelphia as the location of the show because it’s rich tradition. Philadelphia is the only major city in America that does not have any content that represents the city in an authentic way. Being a Philadelphia native, I take pride in producing something that’s impactful and can create hope for all my people throughout the Philadelphia communities. The people of Philadelphia has been dying for a piece of content they can call their own.
4) So far in the series the good characters seem to have it really difficult and the more sinister characters seem to have it easy. Why did you choose to display good and evil in such a way?The good characters are for the people who are doing things the right way. Meaning going to there job everyday to provide for their family. These type of individuals are not glorified in media at all. There success is slower than the individuals who live the fast life style. The money, cars, clothes type of individuals seem to have instant success. Which is true, but these type of individuals don’t have longevity. They are living for he moment, instead of planning for tomorrow. I think it’s important to distinguish that dynamic for young people. Kareem is living for now he wants to be the top of food chain in the drug game. When LA just wants to provide for his family. However, they are both pulled into the drug game for different reason.
5) What is the biggest message you want people to get from the series?
The biggest message I want people to get from this series is DECISIONS. The better decision maker you are in life, the easier your life will be. For every decision we make there’s a good or bad consequence. People have to be accountable for their decisions and be able to live with them. However, there are some decisions we make where there’s no turning back. You will see that with a few characters in this series.
6) If you could work with any Black creative (actor, director, writer, filmmaker, etc.) who would it be and why?
I will love to work with Denzel Washington. Working with an individual of this stature will help me become a better filmmaker with the knowledge and experience he has in this industry. I also love working with people who are perfectionist, this type of personnel on set forces you to reach new heights as a creator.
7) What tips would you provide to inspiring filmmakers?
My advice will be just do it. If you are sitting around waiting for someone to come offer you a million dollars to shoot your project, it’s not going to happen. You have to be relentless in this industry and have to know how to hustle to be successful.
8) How do you think the Black community can increase diversity in entertainment/media?
I think as black creators we have to start showing our range as filmmakers. It’s good to create the authentic drama pieces but now we have to start expanding our creative ideas with putting are black characters in roles as super hero’s, doctor’s, scientist, etc. I love with Netflix doing with the TV show Luke Cage. He’s a black super hero who strengths are his durability and ability to go through any bullet. Plus he wears a hoodie in all his outfits.
9) What can fans expect next from you and your team?
We are just going to keep striving to create impactful content that can make people conscience about their daily decision making. After the completion of the Oldhead series we will start developing a few feature film script.