Frey Hoffman’s "The Untimely Demise of Hollywood Jerome," the 2007 winner of the IFP/Chicago Production Fund, is a departure in both content and style from past winners of the fund.
An adaptation of Malik Yusef’s poem "Hollywood Jerome," it will be the first Production Fund winner to address urban themes, and the first to operate outside the conventions of straight narrative.
Hoffman was awarded $100,000 in in-kind goods and services for the production of a short film.
"The Production Fund has given us access to a huge amount of film production equipment, as well as instant publicity and instant credibility, which will allow us to make the film that much better," Hoffman said.
Yusef’s recitation of the poem will run as narration throughout the film, which will include only a few lines of dialogue.
Yusef is a veteran of HBO’s "Def Poetry Jam" and has appeared on numerous hip-hop records including Kanye West’s "Late Registration." Yusef toured with West on the rapper’s "Touch the Sky" tour.
Hoffman collaborated with Yusef on the script, the tale of a 14-year-old South Side gang member who idolizes classic Hollywood gangsters, caught in a police standoff on the North Side.
"It deals with problems that confront a lot of youth in Chicago, and in urban and rural settings across the country," Hoffman said.
Malik Yusef "Instead of just creating the film and letting it drop, we want to use the film to create discussion with kids who might confront these situations, like teen pregnancy and youth violence. Instead of coming in with a didactic point of view, we want to make it relevant to them by coming in from a point of view of cultural expression."
Hoffman shot Yusef’s music video "Wouldn’t You Like to Ride," featuring West and Common, directed by Coodie and Chike of Channel Zero for the "Coach Carter" soundtrack. Hoffman also shot Coodie and Chike’s video for West’s "Jesus Walks."
Hoffman approached Yusef about adapting "Hollywood Jerome" after seeing Yusef’s performance of the poem on the "Channel Zero" series on public access station CAN TV.
"Hollywood Jerome" will premiere at IFP/Chicago’s Flyover Zone Film Festival next fall. Hoffman and Yusef are at work on a feature script of "Hollywood Jerome." They’re also developing an educational outreach component for the film.
"Hollywood Jerome" will be a co-production of Hoffman’s Freydesign Productions, and Salaam Shalom Productions, the company Hoffman and Yusef co-founded.
Also onboard for “Hollywood Jerome” are producer Rob Hess, a 20-year veteran of CNN, and attorney Jeff Dillard, executive producer of Michael Ojeda’s 2002 feature "Lana’s Rain."
Written by Ed M. Koziarski