Cancel culture is at the forefront in today’s society, and a team of Chicago filmmakers is poised to plunge into that topic with their upcoming feature film. We Woke will be directed by Stacey Carpenter, who also penned the screenplay. Carpenter and her talented team plan to film throughout Chicago this August and September. One of Carpenter’s producers, Bradford Stevens, stopped by for an exclusive interview about the upcoming production.
“We Woke is a film that is very dear to our hearts,” Producer Bradford Stevens shared with SCREEN. “It’s based on true events and I think the subject matter is very timely. As artists, you are always influenced by other artists, no matter how original your voice may be. Films like Election, Submarine and Girl Asleep are definitely influences for the film. We Woke blends a great deal of imagination and creativity in the story telling, and has an offbeat feel that we think will resonate with audiences. Being able to share this story with the rest of the world means everything to us.”
Here is the poster for this upcoming production, designed by Dreama Dickerson…
We Woke centers on Nikki J (played by Daryn Harrell), a long time member of the “Mickey’s Monkey Theater Troupe,” headquartered in the beautiful City of Chicago. As an actor and teacher, the company has become a major part of her life, and teaching creative writing to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders is one of her greatest joys. However, the name of the arts organization has long been a point of contention among the ensemble, and is about to be changed. While Nikki understands the issue some people have with the “Mickey’s Monkey” name, from her perspective the racial slur and the company are not one and the same. All human beings – even the racist spouting hate – are primates and belong to the family of Great Apes. These amazing animals are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet and are our closest cousins on the evolutionary tree. So why is the company changing its name because of a lie? After a bit of trepidation, Nikki summons up the courage to be a dissenting voice, which sparks a lot of conversation, rubs some people the wrong way, and completely destroys a friendship.
“I think viewers will connect with the challenges of having difficult conversations, especially in this day and age,” Producer Bradford Stevens shared with SCREEN. “In We Woke, the two main characters, Nikki and Miranda, have very different viewpoints on how to handle the company name, which some people find offensive. While both perspectives make sense, it’s a nuanced conversation that proves difficult to navigate out of fear of offending and fear of being canceled.”
Meet the Cast and Crew
Director Stacey Carpenter’s cast for We Woke is being led by actors Daryn Harrell, Ricky Harris, Christine Bunuan, Charlotte Weeks, Tamarus Harvell, and Markuz Weddle.
Joining Bradford Stevens as producers are Harold Dennis, Valerie Stevens, and James T. Alfred. The team of Associate Producers is led by Marcus Watson, Ying Manein, Tamarra Newbern, and Stedman Foster.
Director of Photography Darryl Parham will be behind the camera.
Filming All Over Chicago and Collaborating with Iconic Theatre Companies
The production team plans to film throughout their vibrant city, from the South Side’s Rosemoor neighborhood, all the way to the North Side’s Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Lakeview areas. And they’ll be landing in some iconic theatre spaces along the way, including the performance venue for the legendary Factory Theater in Rogers Park and the comedy cornerstone Annoyance Theatre in Lake View.
What’s Next for We Woke
The team launched a successful crowdfunding campaign in recent months and raised enough money to shoot two scenes of the film.
Here are some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from this initial round of filming for We Woke, courtesy of Caitlin Kelly Thompson Photography and Bari Baskin Time Stops Photography…
Carpenter and her team are now using the scenes to attract donors for the project. As the team forges ahead with their fundraising and grant-writing efforts, they are also in the process of holding auditions to cast the rest of the film.
“We have a lot on our plate, but are enjoying every moment of it,” Stevens declared to SCREEN. “From The Heart Productions is our Fiscal Sponsor and they have been very helpful in mentoring and giving us some great advice.”
Once the team completes funding of the film, We Woke is expected to complete production by this Fall.
Check back here at SCREEN as this feature film forges ahead. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.