Grammy Award-winner Marvin Young, aka Young MC, knows a thing or two about music and movies. His new thriller Justice Served was just released digitally last month and stars Lance Henriksen, Lochlyn Munro, Chase Coleman, Gail O’Grady and Marvin himself. Check out the trailer here:
On top of writing, directing, producing, and starring in this film, Marvin is currently on the “I Love the 90s” tour. You might know him best from his hit song “Bust a Move,” but after giving his new film a watch, we just had to talk to him. Check out our interview below to learn a little bit about the filmmaking process, his summer tour, and more!
AiPT!: Working in the music industry and now in the film industry, how is producing, writing, and directing a film similar to producing an album?
Young MC: The similarities fall into two categories. Work ethic and leadership. In both music and film, a lot of people think it’s so glamorous that you don’t have to work hard, or you don’t have to devote yourself to the job like physical labor or an hourly office job. I’ve made albums where people thought things were finished after recording the songs. I had to push to make sure the mixing, mastering, artwork, promotion, etc. was completed to my personal satisfaction. I found a similar situation in the film business. There were people in key positions who thought we were finished when we wrapped shooting.
Once again I stepped in to supervise everything from the sound mixing to the coloring process and I brought in more professionals to handle it and paid extra money to make sure it was done. I even sat in on the DCP session to make sure that the hard drive was ready for the cinemas. In both music and film, the term ‘finished’ means different things to different people. In the music business, I developed my leadership skills in the studio, on the road and in strategy sessions regarding my career. I did that for 25 years before I stepped behind the camera. On the set, I found myself calling upon those same skill sets when I was working with my actors, my crew and the other people involved in the making of Justice Served. If you run a focused, confident set, that mindset will trickle down to everyone involved and give you a good shot at success. I definitely used my music business experience to help make that happen with my film.
AiPT!: Many of your songs are inspirational and now, with your first produced film, there seems to be a social element that is meaningful with Justice Served. How did you approach writing Justice Served and how long has this film been in the incubator percolating?
YMC: To be honest, I was less interested in being inspiring and more interested in being thought-provoking and providing tension with Justice Served. During the last five years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch literally hundreds of movies in the theater with film critics and preview audiences. Being in the room and seeing people’s reactions to the screen has influenced my creative process in more ways than I can mention. It took me two years to come up with the draft of the script that went to talent. It was my seventh screenplay and I have to admit that all those preview screenings helped make it the best thing I’d ever written.
AiPT!: Were there any inspirations from movies, TV, or books that inspired Justice Served? A horror film that popped into my mind when viewing Justice Served was 2009 film The Box, for instance.
YMC: I didn’t watch The Box, but I did watch several films which were set in a single location. Claustrophobic, limited, no escape, that’s what helped build the tension. A few of the films I watched were Wrecked where Adrian Brody was trapped in a crashed car after a robbery, Brake where Stephen Dorff wakes up in a glass box where he is tortured for information and Exam where a group of people are locked in a room as part of a job interview. It was fascinating to see the different ways the films handled confinement.
AiPT!: It always amazes me to find out folks can write, act, direct, and produce a film. Is it difficult keeping your head wrapped around so many duties and details?
YMC: I just took it one day at a time and one task at a time. If I looked at all my duties as a whole, it would definitely have been overwhelming. Also, my creative involvement with Justice Served has been a five-year process. It definitely helped me to spread those duties out over an extended period of time.
AiPT!: I’m curious, with music you get a direct response from an audience every night and directly influence their experience in the moment, but with film you can only sit with an audience and read reviews to get a sense of how the public views your art. Does that change how you create a film or music, and are they similar in any way as far as audience reaction?
YMC: With music you get a direct response from an audience when you’re performing live. I think albums and films are judged somewhat similarly because the audience has a personal experience and builds a sort of relationship with the art. Especially with people watching more films on their computers and mobile devices, they are in similar environments to those they enjoy music in. Albums are reviewed like films are, so I think there’s a similarity there too. I will say that watching as many films as I have with audiences reminds me of audiences reacting to a live stage performance. The art can bring out emotion in both settings.
AiPT!: What’s your favorite part of the filmmaking process and a part you don’t like?
YMC: My favorite part is on set. Shooting scenes and working with the actors. My least favorite part is how time-consuming it is to get everything done right. It’s satisfying in the end, but it’s frustrating during the process.
AiPT!: For fans who can’t make it to the “I love the 90s” tour you’re currently on, could you describe any visual element to your show, possibly in connection with your filmmaking while you’re on stage?
YMC: That’s a very interesting question. I definitely focus on how my performance looks to the audience. Not only people sitting up close, but those far away as well. Ironically I perform a song called ‘Nocturnal’ while a visual trailer of Justice Served plays on the screens behind me. I definitely had my filmmaking hat on when I decided to put that in my show.
AiPT!: What is your favorite method of procrastination?
YMC: I like to watch movies, read and play some video games. I use those things to clear my mind sometimes too. I’ve found that I can’t go directly from writing a script to producing music or vice versa. I have to have something in between to break things up.