Gimme the Loot
Delightfully appealing performances from non-actors Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson set the tone for Adam Leon’s charming debut feature.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Screenwriter Adam Leon
- Producer Natalie Difford, Dominic Buchanan, Sam Soghor, Jamund Washington
- With Tashiana Washington, Ty Hickson, Zoe Lescaze
- USA 2012
- 80 mins
- UK distribution Soda Pictures
Chided by Queens punks who have stepped onto their turf and messed up their artwork, Malcolm and Sofia are two Bronx kids who become determined to make a mark on the city with their graffiti. They plan to tag an iconic NYC landmark, and set out to hustle the $500 they need to get close to succeeding in their mission. Their adventure involves detours into drug-dealing and casual petty crime, though for all of Malcolm’s swagger and Sofia’s smart-mouthedness, the pair get ripped off or slapped down at every turn, as their audacious task appears to become an unlikely proposition. A big-hearted Bronx tale, Gimme the Loot captivated audiences at SXSW earlier this year, taking the Grand Jury Prize there. Delightfully appealing performances from non-actors Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson set the tone for Adam Leon’s charming debut feature, a sweet caper that is refreshingly devoid of cynicism.
The movie takes place over two hot summer days and follows Malcolm and Sofia on an adventure through New York involving a range of diverse characters from many walks of life. This is a story about a time and place, and capturing New York was key to the project. We took to the streets, used real locations in the Bronx and all over the city, often shot guerrilla-style, and just hustled and schemed like our characters to get it made in the best way possible. Tonally, I was focused on taking these kids who often have rough lives, but telling a story set in that world that is more about the joys of youth rather than the perils of it. While Malcolm and Sofia dabble in juvenile delinquency and often have it hard, that doesn't mean they’re bad or miserable people. I hope ultimately that portrayal helps humanise our characters and make them universally identifiable. I was inspired by a great, charming movie from the fifties called Little Fugitive that was shot on the streets of NYC using non-professional kids, and I also looked at the Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby comedies from the seventies like Uptown Saturday Night, and even the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby road movies. While those last two examples are broader in tone, and Gimme the Loot is set in a very authentic, and at times gritty world, I wanted the spirit of those movies to be present in our film. The production concept was to have a full, detailed script and intensive preparation, including months of rehearsal, but then going out and shooting very fast, very on the fly. That combination, hopefully, led us to have a strong, structured story with real, full characters but also a sense of looseness and freshness. We woke up every morning knowing that things were not going to go as planned and because of our preparation, and our focused, supportive crew, we were able to embrace whatever the city threw at us and incorporate it into the movie. Above all else we needed to find amazing talent to pull this off. I put a sign up on my door that read ‘Find Kids. Shoot Movie’, because I knew that once we had the cast everything else would fall into place. If the actors were special enough then people would recognise it and want to be a part of the project. Luckily we were able to discover a cast that I believe is truly remarkable and I am most thankful for and proud of these wonderful young actors we were able to spotlight in the movie.
Born and raised in New York City, he had a non-film college education at the University of Pennsylvania, then waded through various production and set design jobs, spent nights writing scenarios, and directed his own music videos and short films. His most recent short Killer (which also starred Ty Hickson) premiered at the New Directors/New Films festival in New York, while his debut feature Gimme the Loot won the Narrative Grand Jury Prize at this year’s SXSW film festival in Austin. He has pointed out in interviews that the film's method of financing had some parallels with his leading characters’ on-screen adventure.
2009 Killer [s; co-d]
2012 Gimme the Loot