ABFF 2016: Director Corey Grant Talks ‘Illicit’

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ABFF 2016: Director Corey Grant Talks ‘Illicit’
Posted by Wilson Morales

June 23, 2016

Illicit poster

Recently making its World Premiere at the 2016 American Black Film Festival was the latest film from director Corey Grant, the sensual drama “Illicit.”

Written by Grant and co-star Lanett Tachel, the film stars David Ramsey, Shireen Crutchfield, McKinley Freeman, Michele Weaver, Lanett Tachel, Dean Cain, Vivica A. Fox, Dionne Gipson, Michael Monks, Essence Atkins, Vincent A. Ward, Sade Kimora Young, Durrell “Tank” Babbs, Charlie Farrell, and Adam Senn.

“Illicit” will have a limited theatrical release in Chicago and Atlanta on May 5, followed by a DVD/VOD release on May 23.

Sasha and Guy’s marriage is tested when sexy, young lovers, both with dark pasts and hidden nefarious agendas, independently seduce by.

For Grant, whose previous films were Dysfunctional Friends, Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, and Sister Code, the film represents for the Joliet, Illinois native his first taste in the straight drama department.

Blackfilm.com recently caught up with the director at the festival where he talked about the making of the film and the casting of new undiscovered talent.

Director Corey Grant

Where did the idea for the film come about?

Corey Grant: I was a big fan of ‘Unfaithful,’ the Richard Gere film and what I liked about it was the way it showed how husbands feel about their wives and those types of dynamics and me never married but being in relationships, infidelity is a big deal. When I saw it, I knew I wanted to do something like this but completely different. That’s where the idea came from.

There’s more than one storyline in the film. The audience gets to see the perspective views from both the wife and husband. How challenging was it writing both angles?

CG: At first, I wanted both affairs to happen at the same time and I thought it would be interesting to see the husband and wife having affairs simultaneously but reluctantly. At first, it was easy writing the man’s part of it but when it came to the female’s aspect, it got challenging. Then I brought in Lanett Tachel, who was in another film (Sister Code) I directed and who also has writing talent. She brought in the female angle to the film and we collaborated back and forth, argued over some stuff with each of us staying true to our gender’s perspective and I’m very happy with what we came up with at the end.

Illicit Lanett Tachel and David Ramsay

Can you talk about your cast, starting with David Ramsay?

CG: Me and Dave go back some years. He’s always been a good friend and we always said that we would do a movie together at some point. When I thought about this movie, I wanted to step away from the comedy and do something more dramatic. Dave was the first person I thought of, called him, showed him the script and he loved it. Then we took it from there. With Shireen Crutchfield, I was a big fan when she was with music group The Good Girls back in the day. When she came in to read for the role, and she was a former model, she just blew me away with her acting and I couldn’t have found anyone better than her for the role.

Director Corey Grant and cast of Illicit

Michele Weaver was in my film Sister Code and I got a chance to see the quirky and goofy part about her. I had no intentions of putting her in ‘Illicit’ until she came in for the audition. I didn’t know she was coming in. She looked real sexy, alluring and makeup all done. I had never seen her in that light. She was the first person to audition for the role and she was really fun to work with. Lanett Tachel was also in Sister Code and co-wrote this film. She’s a nice comedic actress and at the same time, she’s good on the dramatic range. I think she’s going to be really big. She’s got more movie coming up.

There were also some familiar faces such as Essence Atkins, Vivica A. Fox and Dean Cain in the film, but in supporting roles. Were they instrumental in selling the film?

CG:It wasn’t so much a sell. Essence has been in almost every movie I have done and she’s one of the most versatile actresses out there. She’s so underrated and she comes in and rips characters apart. Whenever I have something that really interesting and I know someone that can come in and really knock it out of the park, it’s Essence.

Director Corey Grant and Illicit cast

Can you talk about the music?

CG: David S. Bateman did the score. Our composer has done a lot of movie. I found him by accident. Shire’ did 95% of all the songs on the soundtrack. They are awesome from top to bottom. Támar Davis did a song for us. They were all written and produced specifically for this movie. I’m very happy how it turned out.

As someone who’s done comedy, horror and drama, is there one genre that you’re comfortable in?

CG: I think as a filmmaker and I’m speaking for myself, I’m a fan of different genres but there’s only one thing.Is it a good movie or a bad movie? Is it true to what the story is and can you execute? Comedy comes a bit easy for me and I had to tone it down in this film. There was a point where it could have been more funny but the most challenging genre is horror and I just feel that at the end of the day, can you execute the script and I think I have done that on different genres. I don’t have a particular favorite.

Director Corey Grant 2

You seem to churn out films more so than some of your peers. Is it that simple?

CG: If I wanted to, I could make multiple films every year. I’m not excited just to make movies anymore. I love it but as you go on, you start to get more into with business aspect and I’ve made a lot of money for a lot of different people. You learn what’s the right way in going about your business and what’s the wrong way. You become patient to find the best situation. Now that I’m schooled with how the business works a little bit, and I know where the leverage is and what the price points are, it just helps me maneuver a little bit and hopefully we’ll do at least two films a year our way. Illicit was done with no outside interference. It was just the artist, the producer, the writer, and the talent. It’s one big family making a movie where everyone has an input and this is what we came up with.

Official Trailer


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