Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ZEMIRA casting call--looking for a few good men

'ZEMIRA’ – Independent Feature Film - Non-Union Males

Zemira Film, Inc. is casting non union males for feature film Zemira. Curtis John Dir. Curtis John and Mecca Woods Writers. Casting begins early December. Shooting starts early spring TBA.

PRODUCERS: Curtis John and Mecca Woods

SYNOPSIS: ZEMIRA is a coming-of-age story loosely based on real life events. It centers around the title character, Zemira Black, a book smart but awkward African-American girl struggling to find her place and her voice in the world. As if dealing with the stress of being a teenager isn’t hard enough, Zemira struggles with the adversity of her drug addicted parents and an upbringing in a violent South Bronx neighborhood, both of which are starting to destroy her unless she can figure out how best to fight for her life.

For more information check out or

COMPENSATION: Reel copy, credit, transportation/meals

Submit headshot/resume electronically to: include role for which you are submitting in the subject.

Darryl Black is the proud father of Zemira and Amir. Charming and studious, Darryl should have been an professor, or a philosopher, or with his tendency to keep his head in the clouds dreaming, an artist. He did try the artist route for years, but without any encouragement from his hard-to-impress family that aspect of his life fall apart – something that has kept him distant the rest of his life and caused him to turn to drugs to repress. Growing up, he never thought he’d fit the stereotype of the aimless Black man society likes to center on, but after a falling-out from his conservative Muslim family, Darryl has become his own worst enemy. How can any man raise a family right when he hates himself so badly?

Chain smoking coupled with a heroin addiction don’t make matters any better, but surprisingly he’s still an handsome guy, with a thin but muscular build and smooth dark skin. If you didn’t see the track marks in his arms (among other areas), you’d never know he was a serious user. His long bouts of pensiveness often annoy his family, but Jeanette can break him out of it easy by putting on some Stevie, Miles, or Luther.

AMIR – TO PLAY 12 to 14 years old
Amir is the Zemira’s little brother. Quiet but personable, he’s a real boy who loves videogames and computers, cartoons and sports. Unlike many of his peers though, he’s unnaturally neat and organized, and has a pretty even temperament. That said, Amir’s no weakling – when it’s time to throw down he can kick yo’ butt and have you screaming for your mother.

In a lot of ways, Amir is the antithesis of his sister. Not prone to high emotion, he’s very popular in school and some girl is always sweating him, which helps enhance his lack of academic achievement with them doing his homework. His second hand clothes don’t matter to him, Amir sees himself as better than most. Although he has no musical talent, hip-hop is his main love, and he constantly tries to rhyme, much to the detriment of his friend’s ears.

SHANE – TO PLAY 17 years old
Head of the local drug crew, Shane is an intimidating guy who’s violent, vengeful and manipulative nature keeps all of his ‘people’ constantly on his toys. Tall and chubby, he’s a smooth talking and convincing guy who is good at getting people to see his point-of-view. Often alternating between his West-Indian patois and American vernacular, Shane becomes even crazier when he’s drinking – which is frequent. Zemira is dangerously attracted to him.

The family therapist to the Black’s, Dr. Monroe is an attentive and even-tempered man whose fight to help families from the hood become well-adjusted people is his passion. Originally hailing from a bad area of St. Louis, his street smarts allow him to get past the gruffness of the Black’s in order to bring them to the next level of their therapy. He feels Zemira is the key to making them a stronger family. A bit pudgy, Dr. Monroe has a good sense of humor…once he actually gets the joke.

TIMOTHY – TO PLAY 16 years old
Timothy is Zemira’s first boyfriend. A tall, attractive, and light-skinned Jamaican boy, he’s Zemira’s first true love. But how does he really feel about her?

RASUL – TO PLAY 16 years old
One of Shane’s drug dealing crew, he’s a native of the neighborhood and grew up with Zemira. Although he used to tease her, he’s feeling her now. But with his doofy demeanor and heavy acne, even the insecure Zemira isn’t desperate enough to give Rasul the time of day. A heavy follower, there’s no way Rasul will last long on the streets if he keeps up with this drug life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lights. Camera. Action!--Highlights From Our First Round of Casting Calls

What's good folks? It's been a minute since our last update. No worries though, we haven't fallen off the radar. Team ZEMIRA has been busy working like bees on our end in an effort to secure cast members for this here project of ours.

So far we've had three casting calls and have auditioned over 80 actresses for the lead female roles. Actresses came from far and wide (some from as far as California) to show us their chops--and that they did.

Though the hours were long and at times we were faced with some tough callback decisions, we had an awesome time meeting all the wonderful ladies who came through to audition for us. Thanks again, ladies!

Still, our work is far from over. We have yet more people to meet and more casting calls to follow. Make sure to check the blog (and follow us on Twitter!)for updates. A special thanks goes out to our casting director, Ms. Chinyere Anyanwu (aka ChiChi), for sorting through tons of resumes and headshots in order to bring us some true gems.

We'd also like to thank the folks who came out to provide us with backup support during each casting--Christine, Andres, Jamila, Stephanie, Chantal, Ngozi--your help was greatly appreciated.
Until next time--MW.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And So It Begins...

ZEMIRA – Independent Feature Film - Non-Union Females
Zemira Film, Inc. is casting the non union females for feature film

Curtis John (Director). Curtis John and Mecca Woods (Writers).
Shooting starts early spring TBA.

PRODUCERS: Curtis John and Mecca Woods
SYNOPSIS: ZEMIRA is a coming-of-age story loosely based on real life events. It centers around the title character, Zemira Black, a booksmart but awkward African-American girl struggling to find her place and her voice in the world. As if dealing with the stress of being a teenager isn’t hard enough, Zemira struggles with the adversity of her drug addicted parents and an upbringing in a violent South Bronx neighborhood, both of which are starting to destroy her unless she can figure out how best to fight for her life. For more information check out

COMPENSATION: Reel copy, credit, transportation/meals, possible low pay (To be determined). Submit headshot/resume electronically to: include role for which you are submitting in the subject line.

(Young talent must be 18 years or older and not in high school)

Auditions will begin in mid-September; non-union talent is encouraged. We will contact you with dates and locations upon selection. All actors MUST bring a monologue of their own choosing. We will provide sides of the film script to selected actors.

[TO PLAY 14-16]
Our protagonist. Zemira is the oldest of two children. She hates when people mispronounce her name. It’s, sound it out, ZA-MEER-UH. Despite growing up in the South Bronx, Zemira has aspirations of being a famous poet and writer one day. Very intelligent, although highly emotional, and very much a smart-ass, she’s grown very tired of her mother and father’s contradictory nature: constant drug use and violence against each other while always telling their kids to do the right thing. So Zee (her nickname) has begun to rebel against them by being out at all hours with her best friend or her boyfriends. Neighbors always saw her with her journal, but she barely even writes anymore, the one thing she was always passionate about.

Zemira’s best and only friend Robyn, helped her come out of her shell,as has mother nature, who allowed her to shed her baby fat and begin to blossom into a curvy young woman. She’s still insecure though, most especially because of her second-hand clothes and deep dark skin. Although seeming to become a different person, when no one else is around Zemira will still have her face buried in one book or another. Zemira’s seeking what she thinks she needs, love and acceptance, but her empty search for these things is catching up to her.

Zemira’s mother. Jeanette comes from a long line of abused women. She thought she changed her destiny when she met her now husband Darryl, but eventually even he is abusive to her as well, more emotionally than physically, as she got caught up in his drug use. Now trying to stay clean and make a stable life for herself and her
two children, Jeanette has finally let go of being so damn independent and mistrusting, and has learned to seek out help from other people. If this doesn’t work out for her though, she has no idea what she’ll do.

A small woman, Jeanette’s very un-girly. She tends to wear men’s clothes and keeps her hair in a short boy cut. She’s got a great sense of humor, but can easily explode on you when angered. Don’t get on her bad side! A film fanatic, she utters lines from the classics with ease, especially anything that Brando or Bogey have done.

[TO PLAY 14-16]
Zemira’s best and only friend, Robyn is a wild and crazy girl that Zemira befriends their first week of high school. An only child, Robyn is spoiled rotten by her mother who works two jobs just to support them. Extremely proud of her expensive name brand clothes and gold jewelry, she’s a very thin girl who upon first look one would think she spends all her food money on fly gear. But even with her loud, crass and often obnoxious ways, Robyn’s a sweetheart who tends to have people’s best interest in heart, although mostly when it’s lockstep with hers, and usually has Zemira’s back.

Ironically, around adults Robyn is well-mannered and respectful. Highly sexually active – she lost her virginity at age 12 – Robyn always has a boyfriend and stays flirting with any cute boy in her immediate vicinity. She never talks about her dad, or about her brother who died when she was seven years old.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Keep on truckin'...!

Hey everyone.

It's been some time since we've posted to the blog, but that's only because we've been ultra-busy since last month's fundraiser.

We've garnered a bunch of support since the fundraiser which helped open the eyes of a lot of our supporters to the precise vision for ZEMIRA. Truth be told, we haven't even followed up on all of our leads since then, but things are moving along quite swimmingly. Things aren't perfect yet, there's been some roadblocks here and there, but the film is coming into alignment...we just have to maintain our momentum and keep it flowing.

Our aim is to start casting real soon. There are some great actors we worked with last year during a script reading that was organized through ActNow Foundation, so we have to get back in touch with them as well as find others to audition for the film. I saw one of them perform this past weekend, and he's gotten even more amazing with his talent. There's so much fantastic talent out there and we're looking forward to meeting and hopefully working with them. Undoubtedly, the hardest part to cast will be our lead, Zemira. But hopefully we'll get some help on that front (crossing our fingers for good luck, more on that to come if it manifests postively).

Feel free to contact us at if you don't hear from us because we still need all your support and well wishes (And financial contributions.... putting together a film ain't cheap!).

Thanks for reading. Speak to you all again soon!

Curtis Caesar John
Director/Producer/co-Writer, ZEMIRA

Monday, June 22, 2009

1st ZEMIRA fundraiser an outstanding success!

Last Wednesday’s fundraiser for ZEMIRA was a huge success. Yes, Team Zemira got some great donations for the film (thanks again!) as our audience was entertained by our incredible talent:

You can find out more about our benefit’s headliner, Jesse Boykins III at This young brother had all the ladies in the room smiling, nodding their heads and caught up in the rapture of his music; all the fellahs thought the brother was good too. Talented is too stilted of a word to describe Jesse’s music, so just go to his ‘site and both listen to snippets AND buy his music so that two years from now when this brother is accepting huge awards, you can exclaim to your friends, “I’ve been a fan of Jesse’s for years! Where’ve you been?!?”

Our opening musical act, the ubër-talented hip-hop artist SoSoon - the truest Hip Hop representative of the working & thinking man/woman brought a wonderfully gritty sensitivity to our benefit. Go to to hear his music (‘Underclass’ is a personal fave) and see more about who SoSoon is. His music is what ZEMIRA is all about.

The national exploits of renown poet Delana R.A. Dameron can be found at her website: and at a bookstore near you with How God Ends Us, selected by Elizabeth Alexander as the fourth annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize.

You may have missed her performance at our benefit, but feel free to watch one of the tightest young poets on the scene, Kayan Ali James here ( for just a taste of how she flows.

We may have been up in the Bronx, but my man WordSmith Jones killed it our June 17th benefit Brooklyn style! You can both hear & purchase a CD of his soul-discovering poetry at

Not only did she stand out at the literary arts movement for teens UrbanWord NYC

(, but as a finalist at the 2009 NY Knicks Poetry Slam, the (only!) 17 year old Thiahera Nurse ripped it(!) at our benefit. We’re so thankful that she got to represent a key demographic we’re approaching for this movie and she’s a prime example of what guidance and self-awareness can do for a young person from the ‘hood.

My partner Mecca’s old friend, and now one of my new favorite poets, Timothy

“Prolific” Jones can be found at, of which he is both founder and CEO. André Maurice Press is an outlet for the published voices of the hip-hop generation and is dedicated to cultivating talent, and providing writers with a means through which to transform their expression into a vehicle for economic empowerment. Being creative and getting paid for that talent – now that’s what’s up.

The smooth yet powerful poetic musings of Charan P a mainstay on Prolific’s Indelible performers/writers crew, flowed sweetly for us as well. A poet/performer/educator transplanted from Chicago to New York, her work uncovers the stigma and effects of racism on modern society. Check her out here in NYC, and in Philly and DC as well. Charan P. is in high demand.

And of course we can't forget to mention my man DJ Prototype who keep the audience both entertained with hot beats, head bopping music and even mad funny sound effects throughout the entire night. You can catch up to him on his blog at: where he displays his mindset, critical thoughts on Hip-Hop, and other artistic endeavors.

THANK YOU once again to all of our talented musicians and poets for helping make this fundraiser a big success!

Curtis Caesar John

Co-Writer/Producer/Director - ZEMIRA

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We Are All Made of Stars

As I've been busying myself with the planning of the fundraiser, building the film's network of supporters, and making my rounds to a number of events across the city, I've had some time to think about ZEMIRA in its entirety and just how far and wide this here net casts.

See, most folks who are familiar with our mission think that our main objective is to raise funds for the film, shoot the film, and screen it in as many venues as possible. Well, what Curt and I have realized is that the completion and screening of the film is just part of the story. There's a residual effect taking place here and we're excited about the possibilities. We're actually building a community.

We have discovered that the goal of our film is not only to address the challenges of black female youth, but it is to also forge relationships. Not only do we want to build with the young women and men that ZEMIRA is aimed toward, but we also want to build with our fellow artists and creative minds--the people who challenge the status quo, those responsible for revolution. Folks, we want to build with you.

Since the production of our film is still in its early stages that means we want to connect with the actors and the actresses, we want to meet sound techs and cinematographers, the make-up artists and wardrobe managers, the marketing teams and musicians (we do need a soundtrack). We want the go-getters and the passionate--we want you, you and you too. We want to help you build those portfolios people! This movement is all encompassing.

So, if any of you reading this entry fit any of the descriptions as noted above, send us an email at and let us know what you'd like to do. Also make sure to stop by our event on the 17th to catch a further glimpse of our vision. (To the artists and wonderful people who've been with us thus far-- thank you!)

Let's come together. No one can stop us now.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's all coming together...!

As Mecca said, we're hard at work with the fundraiser and with pulling together elements for the feature film including crew members, cast, and investors, to name a few. I never knew I could function so well on 4 hours sleep (at least for 6 days out of the week!). But there's been a great synergy occuring that lets us know that this venture is going to be successful.

That in mind, I just wanted to take a few minutes to give you all a sneak peek of the promotional trailer that we'll show at our first June fundraiser. These are of Zemira's parents - Darryl and Jeanette, played very admirably and professionally by Lionel Linton and Dimequia Leshell. Let us know what you think!

- Curtis Caesar John

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Good News

While everyone has been out and about, enjoying the summer-like weather, I have been holed away inside my apartment (well, except for when I had to shuttle my daughter to and from the Harlem School of the Arts, but that was like 3 hours tops...sheesh) bouncing back and forth between my computer and BlackBerry (and four loads of laundry) accomplishing even greater feats of magic...I just got word that not one, but two more well-known and respected artists have agreed to connect themselves to this amazing movement/event. I can't divulge any further details (booooooooo, I know) but as I've previously mentioned, our fundraiser event is shaping up to be something wonderful and I can't wait for you all to see the treats we have in store!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Making of...a Making.

There's something about event planning that can drive the inexperienced planner, plum crazy--for example, the long hours put into phone calls, follow-up and footwork, the swell of (psychic) energy it takes to thwart unforeseeable troubles and the bouts of stroke inducing anxiety from waiting for people to actually show up. Luckily, I'm not so inexperienced in the event planning department but still that doesn't keep me from waking up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, clutching at my chest (palpitations, palpitations...).

Now breathe, stretch, shake, let it go...

Ok, so the good news here is that the planning for the fundraiser event that I'm hosting, along with my partner Curtis John, is in full swing and on track. We present to you:

SHOW LOVE: a Fundraiser Benefit for ZEMIRA

On Wednesday June 17th we'll be gathering at the Bronx Museum of the Arts for an evening of spoken word, film, and music to raise the funds necessary to bring ZEMIRA to the big screen. But before I even get into the evening's lineup I just want to send out an extra special thanks to the folks on my team who have been working behind the scenes and helping me to make this thing happen--Suraiyah, Abasi (aka DJ Prototype), Nneka, Cyril, Liz, Scott (Free), Corinne, Chris T., and Kedon--I love you all very much and thank you for your insight, care and patience! Akira Barclay, I think you are wonderful and as for for you, Mr. John, you already know that this project (in its entirety) wouldn't have gotten this far without you and for you I am truly grateful.

I also want to take a moment to send another special thanks to Mr. Jesse Boykins III, a young gentleman whom I very much admire and is taking time out of his very busy schedule to support our cause and bless us with his prescence (if you haven't yet copped his albums Dopamine: My Life on My Back or The Beauty Created, please do so now--he is a talent not to be missed folks!). In addition, a big, BIG shout goes out to my boy SoSoon (Queens, stand up!) who will also be coming through to give us the gift of music--whoever said The Bridge is over, lied (sorry KRS). You sucka MC's have been forwarned.

But wait, that's not all folks!

Some of the dopest poets around have also agreed to come out and SHOW LOVE--Definition, WordSmith Jones, Kayan Ali James, LaToya Nelson, Timothy "Prolific" Jones and his Indelible crew are just a sampling of the jaw-dropping artistry to expect.

It all goes down on June 17, 2009 at 7PM at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Tickets are $15 in advance ($20 at the door). There will be surprises galore, including a special sneak preview of our film in progress. Join us. Support us. SHOW LOVE.

Please note that this event is for guests 21 and up. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to cover ZEMIRA's budget. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is in no way affliated with the sale of tickets and all ticket inquiries should be specifically addressed to Zemira Film, Inc. (