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Apr
2024
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‘Dinners with DeMar’ Director Justin Casselle and Producer Ramone Hulet Sit Down with SCREEN

As the Chicago Bulls season comes to a close, let’s take a look at an inspiring and insightful new digital series led by the team’s star player. Dinners with DeMar is DeMar DeRozan‘s new digital series that serves as a comforting space for athletes to openly share sentiments about their life, fame, career, as well as mental health struggles. The series launched earlier this year, featuring NBA greats Damian Lillard, Dwyane Wade, and Draymond Green. The LA- and Chicago-based team of Director Justin Casselle and Producer Ramone Hulet stopped by SCREEN to share their experience in bringing this star-studded show to the screen.

“Having NBA superstars like DeMar, Draymond, Dwyane, and Damian all be speaking so candidly is really special,” director Justin Casselle shared with SCREEN. “We’re in a special time now with the topic of mental health; day by day it’s losing it’s stigma and people, from every day folks to NBA players, are speaking openly about it. I think fans of theirs and the NBA will find this type of conversation eye-opening and refreshing; so often we can consider these guys to be superheros when, in fact, they’re regular people (with unusually cool day jobs) who have everyday struggles like the rest of us. Seeing their favorites speak on life outside of basketball will offer a special connection, one that hopefully makes viewers look at these guys differently in the most positive way.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the first episode with DeMar and Draymond…

“I believe that the viewers will relate to these conversations on a personal level,” producer Ramone Hulet shared with SCREEN. “The men discuss the various pressures they face both on and off the court, family and upbringing. The most valuable lesson I learned from these conversations is the importance of maintaining good health at every stage of life. We often think that we can grind to the limit and neglect our health and responsibilities under the assumption that we can fix it all once we we get to the top. However, these men, who are at the top of their game, shared that the top looks just like the middle and the bottom, and therefore, we should consistently take care of our mental and physical health at every step.”

Here is the second episode, featuring Chicago basketball legend Dwyane Wade…

Working with DeMar

SCREEN asked Justin and Ramone about their experience working with the Chicago Bulls superstar. Justin’s take was clear and concise. “DeMar is awesome,” Justin declared to SCREEN. “He’s a standup guy who is just as cool off the court as he is on. One of the most memorable moments isn’t just one, but just the fact that I was able to direct a part of this series in Chicago (the Damian Lillard episode). And on top of that, both episodes I directed were produced by my dear friend Ramone Hulet. Working in this industry and doing a project like this is special enough, but when you add on top of it doing it with your friend it makes it that much sweeter.”

Ramone agrees, “Throughout the series, we had the opportunity to meet DeMar, his long-time colleagues, and some of his family. As Justin mentioned, there were many moments worth sharing, but what stood out the most to me was DeMar’s overall sensibility. As an all-star athlete, he remains grounded and relatable. He is genuinely invested in what he speaks about and takes the time to investigate further what it means to be mentally well in both body and mind. His relatability and presence not only make you want to lean in and listen but it makes you trust what he is saying.”

Justin and Ramone shared some photos from production of Dinners with DeMar

Last but certainly not least, let’s enjoy the third and final episode of Dinners with DeMar, featuring Damian Lillard…

As for what this unique and impactful project has meant to the talented Chicago-LA director-producer duo, “It means the world,” Justin declared to SCREEN. “I’m a huge fan of these guys and the NBA in general, and as someone who’s been on his own mental health journey, this project has been incredibly rewarding. There’s so much space for this series to continue and build and open more doors for people to come on and speak their truth. I’m happy and honored to be a part of it making that happen.”

“I am thrilled to have produced a project that contributes to the mental health dialogue, especially one with so much grounded relatability,” Ramone shared with SCREEN. “This series touches on many topics that I am passionate about, mental health, mental health among black men, mindfulness, and food! Dinners with Demar is a project that I didn’t walk to, but to run towards!”

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