It’s been quite some time since we offered our full issue devoted to the upcoming film, Sons 2 The Grave. Written and produced by Lynne Stoltz for Have Faith Productions, the film touches on so much that is highly relevant to our society and our youth. Stoltz has literally outdone herself with the overall production of Sons 2 The Grave. With this feature, we had a moment to sit down and catch up with Lynn to talk about what has happened for the film since filming, and what the process has been like while working to bring it to the Silver Screen. As well, we discuss the many new projects that are in the works for Have Faith Productions and what everyone can look out for in the near future. I definitely encourage you all to go back and check out our full issue for Sons 2 The Grave in The Magazine section of the site.
For now, enjoy our new exclusive with Lynne Stoltz!
U.G. Digital Mag: How are you?
Lynne Stoltz: I’m good. We’re coming to the end of a film here!
U.G. Digital Mag: I know. Thank you so much. It’s pretty amazing to reconnect with you. I’m grateful to you for this opportunity.
Lynne Stoltz: James, you’ve always been a real friend to this film. You’ve walked this journey with us, and we could not be more honored and humbled.
U.G. Digital Mag: I appreciate that. Have Faith Productions has come a long way, and it’s much the same for me with the magazine. It’s an amazing feat, but to have an opportunity to put even an article together with you, let alone a full issue. It’s a dream come true for me.
Lynne Stoltz: We understand that fully, and we tell everyone about you and the magazine. We tell them to you to check out what’s going on, and will continue to do so.
U.G. Digital Mag: There’s so much we try to do in remaining positive, and staying away from drama. All media isn’t bad, but it has a bad name because so many focus on negativity. It brings people in, but many celebrities become leery because they get burned. I believe having the opportunity to work with you and Sasha has helped us tremendously.
Lynne Stoltz: Pretty big James.
U.G. Digital Mag: Now whats also amazing is Sons 2 The Grave was selected for a VIP screening. How did that come about?
Lynne Stoltz: We were approached by one of our actors. The Chamber of Commerce wanted to speak with us. It was the Choose ATL movement of the Chamber of Commerce. It’s basically saying to choose ATL to come and shoot your movie. They focus on independent filmmakers. They called and had heard much about the film. They asked if we would show it at a private VIP screening at SXSW. They felt the quality and quantity, and what the film stood for, was something they wanted to promote. There were rave reviews when we showed the film. They were very emotional about it.
U.G. Digital Mag: I would imagine. The story is awesome, so I can only imagine how good the movie is. To be featured at SXSW, that’s huge in and of itself. You have some of the best people in the film.
Lynne Stoltz: We’re very fortunate of everyone who took their time out. It’s like the little engine that could. I call it a tiny little film, but people say it’s not tiny anymore.
U.G. Digital Mag: That’s because you have so many strong and reputable names backing this film. These are people who truly believe in it. The promotion over the past year has been amazing. 14 months after the fact, it’s going strong. Maria Howell is pushing this day in and day out. Trevor Jackson, Messiah Harris, and Justin Martin are working it.
Lynne Stoltz: We do. Everyone attached themselves because they connect to the story. We were blessed that everyone said they just want to be a part of it. We do have Messiah Harris, who is T.I.’s oldest son, and Justin Martin who is an NAACP winner, and he’s phenomenal. Trevor Jackson, who as well as being Atlantic Recording artist, is one of the leads in American Crime.
U.G. Digital Mag: I love what you have put together. Was it difficult to do the casting?
Lynne Stoltz: No, it didn’t take a long time. Often it does, but we were under a lot of pressure to get this done. We had to cast quickly, but carefully. We didn’t want to choose at random, and it just fell into place. I think when you know the film, and everyone has the same vision, you know the right vision when it walks through the door. You don’t have to discuss it; you just know. As soon as we saw and heard them, we knew.
U.G. Digital Mag: I mentioned that it’s been 14 months, and you’re still screening. What does the timeline look like?
Lynne Stoltz: Distributors and studios have asked to see the film. Because there has been much made about the film, and we’ve been very blessed and humbled, we’re not doing the film festival route. Studios have been asking us to look at it, so we’ve been blessed with it. That is the route we will take, rather than spread it out.
U.G. Digital Mag: I can’t wait to see it. How do you not get the big head, when you put your first film together and it gets this much love and people standing strong behind it?
Lynne Stoltz: I guess it’s the person you are. I’m not really sure (laughing). I’m not the person who wants to be a hit. I’m just focused on this film, and one person does not make a film. Everyone made this film. Once person being over-egoed would not be acceptable. I’m grateful everyday.
U.G. Digital Mag: You’re very personable down to earth. The average person can talk with you, and know they’re not being looked down on. Sasha has been exactly the same way, and so have the cast when I’ve spoken with them. I think it’s amazing the team you have arranged for this. I’ve loved working with you. Even connecting with Maria, I’ve watched her for years, and it’s just amazing to see her work. The same goes for the entire cast, and it’s amazing the opportunities you’ve provided.
Lynne Stoltz: We’re blessed with everyone. I also don’t want to leave out Brad James. He, and everyone, has put in long hours to make this film. Faith rules this film for me, and I guess that’s why we all keep pretty low key. There’s only so much you do on your own. I believe Faith carried us through.
U.G. Digital Mag: Talk more about the company Have Faith Productions.
Lynne Stoltz: The company has been very close to our hearts. Besides me being a spiritual person, the name came from me losing my husband a few years ago. He wanted us to do this film. It was a very sudden, and hard time for Sasha and myself, and we were together for 28 years. This si someone who is beloved by everyone that knew him. We decided a good name for our company would be Have Faith Productions because we needed to lean on our faith. We kept that vision with us in our hearts from day one. In one of the scenes, we put my husbands keys to his car that he loved on the desk, so that a part of him was with us when we made this movie. That’s how Have Faith came about. We’ll only do films that mean something, and have a meaning in today’s world where you can walk away, not necessarily agreeing, but thinking about it and talking about it. We have a couple of projects coming out, one actually that the late Dr Maya Angelou was going to direct from a book I wrote a long time ago. That’s one of the movies we’ll be doing.
U.G. Digital Mag: That book was Loud Silence?
Lynne Stoltz: Yes. And that is scheduled on our slate to do a feature film. Before that is done, we are in the final development of a series we’re doing next. It’s shot here in Toronto, taken based on a series that I wrote where there are twelve episodes, and we’re going to cross that series over with the bridge theme we used in Sons 2 the Grave, where you have the wealthy on one side, and the neglected on the other side. The series will deal with a police precinct, and the personal lives of the officers and detectives, who connect with the DA’s and mayors, and some people who live on the good side that you may not believe should live there. It will be a very deep thinking series where the personal lives will carry the drama through each week.
U.G. Digital Mag: It sounds amazing already.
Lynne Stoltz: We’re bringing in some hip-hop royalty as well as part of the cast. The series will be called Hudson, which is the name of the neighborhood in Sons 2 The Grave. You will love it. When you see Sons 2 The Grave, you’ll love this concept. We never know what comes back to haunt us in our lives. You have someone who has maybe climbed his way out, trying to do well, but things come back to haunt. So we have that relationship with the mayor, the city, and the DA. Lives entangle, and we’re going to tangle them up a little for you.
U.G. Digital Mag: I can’t wait to see it.
Lynne Stoltz: Well we can’t wait to start. We’re almost there.
U.G. Digital Mag: Is this something that will be pushed to television? Or are we looking at things like Netflix or Hulu?
Lynne Stoltz: We do have a production partner in Toronto with channel zero. I can’t tell you which network in the U.S. just yet, but it will be showing there. I can say that channel zero is the Canadian broadcaster. They want to be the one to release who will show it in the U.S.
U.G. Digital Mag: Getting back to Sons 2 The Grave, are there more screenings coming?
Lynne Stoltz: There are more scheduled, but we may or may not do them. There’s a few studios that have the movie, so it’s better for them and us if we just let it sit a little.
U.G. Digital Mag: That makes sense.
Lynne Stoltz: Absolutely, and besides that, we get to stay home. We were in Atlanta for a long time. We loved it, and will be going back to shoot another movie. They’ve been good to us, and we look forward to going back.
U.G. Digital Mag: And again, Hudson will be in Toronto, correct?
Lynne Stoltz: Yes, it’ll be shot in Toronto.
U.G. Digital Mag: OK. I asked that, just because a lot of the location was in Atlanta for Sons 2 The Grave.
Lynne Stoltz: No, it’ll be in Toronto. The name of the city was never made a point in the film, so it could have been anywhere. We shot it in Atlanta. We will go back to do it again, but the series, we’re using the name Hudson because I love that name.
U.G. Digital Mag: The story behind Sons 2 The Grave is amazing in the fact that it centers around making choices in life, and being your brother’s keeper. What was the inspiration?
Lynne Stoltz: It was inspired by a young man who was killed here in Toronto on a foot bridge that divides two neighborhoods, exactly as we did in the film. Once we thought about it and walked the bridge, there’s a much bigger story to tell. The story was these young men were making decisions in life based on many things, but when you looked at everyone making the decisions, whether it was the shooter, or the best friend, they all had fears, and they acted out of fear. We tried to tell the story without making judgment. Danny Glover said Sons 2 The Grave was understanding to all involved. Of course, you don’t think the shooter is an upstanding person, but we gave understanding as to why he actually did the shooting, and why he didn’t just stay home. We tried to give the reasons for that.
U.G. Digital Mag: What has been the biggest learning experience in putting this film together?
Lynne Stoltz: I believe I have to say in the beginning, early on, when I would go to this certain neighborhood and walk the neighborhood with people, hearing many things that happened, my reaction was always why don’t people speak up. When you go to these neighborhoods, and you see the struggle and how we as a city tend to forget that side, if I had to live there everyday and make my life work through all these struggles, I might not be as ready to stand up and open my mouth and say something. I would keep my head down, go home at night, and lock my door. I lost all judgment. I understand it’s not as easy to say why does someone leave their child at home, or not have a babysitter. It’s because they can’t afford a babysitter and they have two jobs. The reality of the neighborhood hit me, and I realized I wasn’t doing enough either. We are our brothers’ keepers, and we have a responsibility, no matter what side of the bridge we are on. You can’t blame either side for your circumstances. You take whatever opportunities are there and run with them. But I learned that we don’t do enough because it’s convenient for us.
U.G. Digital Mag: In what ways do you see Have Faith Productions helping budding talent?
Lynne Stoltz: We look at everyone that comes to us, or every agent. If we shoot in Toronto, for instance, the series will also have American actors. When we shoot somewhere else, if there’s a Canadian actor I feel strongly about, I will bring them with us. We will be shooting in Chicago and maybe Cleveland, as well as Atlanta.
U.G. Digital Mag: Uh oh. Cleveland.
Lynne Stoltz: I know. There’s a Cleveland story that we’re looking at. If you’re right for the role, and want to be a part of this, I have no problem with that.
U.G. Digital Mag: Oh, I need an agent now.
Lynne Stoltz: You just come to us James.
U.G. Digital Mag: I’m holding you to that now.
Lynne Stoltz: You can hold me to that.
U.G. Digital Mag: It’s funny because I have my hand in so many things, and I’ve given it thought, but I also want to be serious about things, and people spend their entire lives working for that.
Lynne Stoltz: Some people are just natural. Many of the actors we use in Sons 2 The Grave, if they are willing, we will use them as well. We do so many things that there’s lots of room.
U.G. Digital Mag: That’s amazing. I love the fact that you bless so many people with opportunities.
Lynne Stoltz: I have a loyalty toward helping the hometown. I’m proud to be a Canadian writer and filmmaker. I want to do a lot more in Toronto. We’re going to do the series, and go from there.
U.G. Digital Mag: Are there any words of encouragement that you like to offer?
Lynne Stoltz: I think if you love to do something, keep the faith, keep going, and keep trying. Remember the no’s don’t count. It’s only the yes. We got many no’s. We got so many. This took many years. Once you have that opportunity, you work as hard as you can as long as you can, and be grateful. Listen and always remember you can always learn something.