Three visionaries, three stories to tell, three new films—it seems we’re having a Hollywood moment. Someone, please, turn down the lights.
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When professors at Yale University request a private screening of your film, you know you did something right.
“20 Minutes” is a short film written and directed by G. Lloyd Morris and produced by his wife, Dawn Morris. Made with $20,000 that the Wilmington couple funded from their savings and credit cards, “20 Minutes” is captivating audiences at film festivals, schools—and prisons.
The film has been screened at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival, the 2010 Atlantic City International Film and Music Festival and upon request to an audience of urban ethnology professors and students at Yale University. It has also been screened at Young Correctional Institution, the Ferris School, Grace/Snowden Cottage, Mowlds Cottage and other transitional houses and juvenile detention centers.
What is so interesting to such disparate audiences? “20 Minutes” is 20 minutes in the life of Evan, a young man just released from Young Correctional Institution after serving yet another two-year term for drug dealing. Given another chance at a new life, Evan sets off on foot, running through the streets of Wilmington to his brother’s house. But on the way to start his new life, Evan is confronted with his old life and its temptations.
What has intrigued audiences is the human drama portrayed in the fictional story of an all-too-real reality: the never-ending circle of recidivism that cripples men, women and the people who love them.
“20 Minutes” was shot at Third and Lombard, in and around Riverside and Rockford Park in the streets of Wilmington. But the story really begins in the streets of South Central Los Angeles, with G. Lloyd Morris.
“My husband was a gang member,” says Dawn. “He watched friends and family go to prison and to early graves. And then he decided to change his life.”
G. Lloyd did that by getting a job with the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles, working as head of outreach for a program with at-risk kids. He married Dawn, a Dover native, in 1999. They have three children. In 2001 the couple moved to Delaware, where Dawn, now 43, is the marketing director for Delaware State Parks. After earning a bachelor’s of science degree in behavioral science from Wilmington University, G. Lloyd, 39, is in his third year of a master of fine arts program at Temple University.
While going to school, G. Lloyd worked as a counselor in Wilmington’s Child Development Community Policing Program. “My boss asked me to create a public service announcement,” G. Lloyd says. “I wanted to make it look like a film to make it really effective. He let me do it, and it got mad reviews.”
“It gave us the reality that we have the opportunity to use film to educate and entertain,” Dawn says. “G. Lloyd had the stories inside of him. They were just looking for a way to come out.”
“20 Minutes” is an action-packed, suspense-filled story that took G. Lloyd one day—and all of his life—to write.
That suspense fills the film is no coincidence, given that suspense films are G. Lloyd’s creative influences. “I love Alfred Hitchcock—love. His writing and directing? That is good, edge-of-your-seat stuff. Also, I loved ‘The Twilight Zone.’ I watched that all the time as a kid. You never knew how an episode was going to end. I love that feeling of ‘It could go this way. It could go that way. What’s going to happen?’
“In modern film, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is one of my favorites. It’s so compelling how Jonathan Demme, the director, depicted this psychotic genius and made him alluring even to the woman.
“But the best might just be ‘The Sixth Sense.’ Dawn and I saw that when we were first married. I remember sitting in the movie theater and watching the wedding ring roll across the floor. Oh, man. I had never heard of M. Night Shyamalan, but I remember saying, ‘Whoever made this movie, he is one of the best in the business.’”
What actors would G. Lloyd like to work with? “Christopher Walken,” he says. “You have to understand, ‘The Kings of New York,’ even more so than ‘The Godfather,’ is my all-time favorite gangster film. In that movie, Christopher Walken, he just owns those streets.”
Different streets of a different Wilmington neighborhood are the focus of “Bells on the Hill.”
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