With many large-scale events around the state and globe getting postponed or canceled, one event altered the medium in which it was presented to cater to the rising COVID-19 concerns and restrictions.
The 2020 Garden State Film Festival still went on, but instead of in Asbury Park, it was featured completely online through virtual streaming.
Luckily for Hamilton resident Jamaal Green, his selected project was featured in the ticketed, block schedule featured online, free of health and safety concerns amid the global coronavirus crisis.
Green wrote and directed “Chronicles Of: The Good Reverend.”
The 44-year-old has been working in film full-time since going to the Digital Film Academy in New York back in 2010. Before deciding to go back to school for film, Green was self-taught and doing odd jobs in the field.
From “Star Wars” as a child to thrillers as an adult, Green always had a passion for movies.
In 2014, Green started a small indie production company, MG Cine Craft, with film partner and former classmate Wilson Mbiavanga. MG Cine Craft mainly produces their own projects but also helps clients with services such as script doctoring, producing, cinematography and writing.
“Sometimes we would rescue other productions that were incomplete or found difficulties,” he said.
Green’s focus is in writing and directing but is a cinematographer as well.
For the featured production, “Chronicles Of: The Good Reverend,” Green explained that the 13-minute episode is part of a larger 8-episode web series that has been worked on for some time. The entire series was started in 2017 and finished in December of 2019.
“The web series is really the small piece of the plot of a much larger plot that was intended for television,” Green said.
The storyline of the episode is about the mayor of a small decaying urban city who must navigate political pressures while keeping the town steady. As the tale unfolds, the mayor receives a morally questionable financial proposal from a wealthy out-of-towner that could save the city.
The political crime thriller episode was partially influenced by the state of politics in the country although Green’s preferred film style is classic thriller, with influences like Alfred Hitchcock.
Green’s partner, Mbiavanga, was part of the writing team on the episode and was the executive producer for the project.
“The piece was originally written as a TV pilot but you know how expensive those can be, so you know what? Let’s start by now taking one of the plot lines, and let’s make a web series, which are taking off right now, and put it on a digital platform just to build some buzz,” Green said.
Although the series is not available on an online platform yet, Green explained that they’ve been running this episode through festivals and have received good feedback from the audience.
“They want to know what happens next,” he said. “I just tell them you’ll get to see once the rest of the episodes are out. They want to know if it’s part of a larger series and I always tell them ‘yeah’ and they’re usually excited about that.”
They won best web series at the Winter Film Awards in New York, were screened at the New Jersey Web Festival and barring any event cancellations are set to screen at the Miami Web Fest in May and the Apulia Festival in Italy in September.
Screening the episode in his home state is a huge deal to Green. The abundance of talent in Central New Jersey, especially the Trenton area should be showcased, he explained.
“We are extremely proud to present ‘Chronicles Of: The Good Reverend’ as a part of our 18th Annual Film Festival in Asbury Park, and to showcase the exceptional talent from our state as well as serve as a launching pad for the next generation of film maker,” Lauren Concar Sheehy, GSFF executive director said in a press release.