Finding a nuanced way of depicting hardship that movie viewers both constantly consume and experience can be a challenge — even for seasoned storytellers. Yet, Mo McRae stood up to the plate at his first go-around.
For his debut film, A Lot of Nothing, the issues of racism, police brutality, and racial prejudice is the overarching subject matter. Heavily inspired to bring the issues to light in a way one wouldn’t initially expect, McRae turned what would assumably be a drama into more of a genre-bender of film.
McRae shared with Shadow and Act the inspiration behind the film's tone
“I was really fascinated, maybe even enamored, with the idea of tackling really complicated subject matter, but in a way that was almost like absurdist theater, which would allow us to be able to laugh and still be entertained by it which can kind of be therapeutic for us in a sense,” he said in a recent interview.
A Lot of Nothing follows the story of James (Y’lan Noel, The First Purge) and Vanessa (Cleopatra Coleman, The Last Man on Earth) a successful married couple who learn that their next-door neighbor, Brian (Justin Hartley, This is Us) murdered an unarmed motorist. After learning of the devastating news, the two decide on how they want to take action into their own hands.
The cast also features Lex Scott Davis and Shamier Anderson The screenplay — co-written by Sarah Kelly Kaplan — turned feature film also brought on board David Oyelowo as one of its executive producers.
While there were no limitations on his vision for how the story would unfold, A Lot of Nothing was placed on pause as the filming started when the COVID-19 pandemic began. What initially started as 15 months of not knowing if his dream project would see the light of day eventually turned into a finished directorial debut that will be premiering at SXSW in the Narrative Feature Competition.
Having its world premiere at SXSW 2022, McRae hopes that his story will serve as a conversation starter that connects his viewers among themselves, as well as with the film’s complex characters.
He also intends for the audience to keep in mind that he’s not pushing any political agenda, but rather a human agenda.
“I want people to leave this knowing that whatever they feel is OK,” he explained. I feel like we’re in a time in the world where a lot of times with our feelings, we don’t know if it’s okay to feel certain things. And I wanted to make a film where we could examine really complex themes, but still have fun. You can be angry. You can be sad. Whatever you feel is okay. I want people to just take away emotions and just being connected.”
Through the lens of McRae, the film is "a story of reflection literally and metaphorically."
“The film is a mirror, but it’s a funhouse mirror,” he added. “So, it’s kind of distorted and wacky, but it’s still a mirror that after the movie they could still keep and take it with them and look into it whenever they feel the need to or pointed at somebody else.”
Watch the full interview below: