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by Samora Chapman / 06.07.2015

Mark Middlewick is not enamoured by all the flash-money of the film industry. He cares about his art form and his vision above all, and his track record proves it. His latest film The Mascot, starring Adrien Brody, deals with rejection, failure and letting go – themes we can all relate to.

A total of 1 700 scripts were submitted for the Jameson First Shot competition, and only three made the final cut. One of them was Mark’s screenplay about a basketball mascot who loses his job and decides to confront the man who replaced him as his entire world comes apart at the seams. Adrien Brody (who would eventually bring the character to life) played a crucial role in selecting the final screenplays for the project.

Mark was flown out to LA to make the film over a three week period, backed by the firepower of Trigger Street Productions – a company formed by Kevin Spacey and Danna Brunetti (Social Network, House of Cards).

“I’m probably gonna die poor, because all I wanna do is make avant-garde art films,” he joked as we went on a mission to Sammy’s Cameras with his lovely girlfriend, photographer Tarryn Hatchett. We rolled through central LA in a budget Uber, grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and took a cheesy snap in front of a tagged up hair salon. Mark still resides on planet earth, despite his stint in the big time. He vows that working in Hollywood has fuelled his passion to make films about ‘home’.


“I’m a control freak,” he admitted with a grin as we headed back to the hotel. “I re-wrote the script a number of times after I arrived in LA. I had a 60-page treatment, story board, shot list. I had to constantly fight for my vision… there was a lot of pushing back and forth. But that’s what filmmaking is often about. It’s collaborative. You have to reach a compromise.”

The next day I sat down with Mark and Adrien Brody to discuss the film in a tense ‘press junket’ setting. I only had five minutes on the mic as film crew, publicists and managers watched the clock with eagle-eyes. Despite the fact that dealing with media is the least exciting part of the biz, both Mark and Adrien spoke with sincerity, clarity and self-confidence – showing what it means to be committed to a creative vision.

Check out the interview on Mahala TV and find out why we’re (not) all snowflakes…

In case you missed the the Jameson First Shot films for 2015, check them out below: The Mascot – written and directed by Mark Middlewick; The Library Book – written and directed by Travis Calvert from the USA; and Boredom – written and directed by Stephan Tempier from Canada.

Read Cali Dreaming Part I & Venice Beach. Tune in soon for the next episode.

*Lead image supplied © Jameson First Shot
*Portraits © Samora Chapman

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