Reporting Terri Lee Sylvester
DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s a Hollywood success story made in Detroit. Native Detroiter Jay Anthony White is making his mark in Hollywood as a screenwriter. His first big project to hit the silver screen is “Pawn,” which recently held its Red Carpet debut at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak.
Writing was something White says he always enjoyed doing. And that’s what ultimately led him from Detroit’s west side, where he was born and raised, to Hollywood – where he crossed paths with writer/producer/director and actor Bill Duke.
“He was like my mentor for a couple of years and then I worked with some other screenwriters and, you know, learned the craft even more and ended up writing Pawn,” White said.
The script for “Pawn” attracted some heavy-hitters, including Michael Chiklis, Common and Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker.
“These three gunmen rob this diner that turns out to be a front for the mob and it just kind of spins out of control and turns into this very intense hostage situation,” he said.
“Pawn” will be available in stores and online starting Tuesday, April 23rd. But before it’s released to the general public, “Pawn” has been available for hotel guests via pay-per-view. What kind of feedback has it been getting thus far?
“The response has been great,” according to White. “People seem to really like the movie. Even Rasheed Wallace (recently retired from the New York Knicks) called me. He saw it in the hotel when they were on the road. He was like, this is amazing; this movie is great, so the response has been really good. I think the director, David Armstrong, and the producers and all the actors did an amazing job.”
I, too had the opportunity to view “Pawn” before it becomes available to the general public. What did I think?
First-time feature film screenwriter or not, White’s accomplishment is one to be applauded. Not only is he marking his Big Screen debut as a screenwriter, but his film’s producers managed to land an all-star cast in Chiklis, Common and Whitaker, along with Stephen Lang (Avatar, Conan the Barbarian), Nikki Reed (Twilight series), Sean Faris (Never Back Down, Ghost Machine), Martin Csokas (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Alice in Wonderland), Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl) and Golden Globe nominee Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Killing Them Softly). Not bad at all! In fact, it’s quite an amazing accomplishment.
As far as the film itself, while watching “Pawn,” I couldn’t help but notice how the storyline seamlessly transitioned from one point in time to another. For example, I remember watching a scene involving one of the characters (I won’t say which one because I don’t want to give the story away) and there was a transition that showed what led up to that point – or to the character being who he/she is. It’s part of the character’s back story. So, the story isn’t just moving straight from beginning to end; it takes sort of a detour to provide insight into the character and/or the story. And coming from a writer’s perspective, that isn’t the easiest thing to do, and White manages to do it very well.
“Pawn” is available for download on Amazon.com starting Tuesday, April 23rd, and it’ll also be available for purchase at brick-and-mortar stores. Definitely a worth-see, and while you’re watching, give yourself a pat on the back for helping to further the career of one of Hollywood’s brightest up-and-comers.
See you at the movies!
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