Exclusive: Shemar Moore And His Business Model For The Bounce BackPosted by Wilson Morales
December 6, 2016
Coming out this week is the romantic comedy ‘The Bounce Back,’ starring Criminal Minds’ Shemar Moore, Bill Bellamy and Nadine Velazquez.
Matthew Taylor (Shemar Moore), is a single father, author and relationship expert who is on a whirlwind book tour promoting his new best seller, The Bounce Back. He has got it all figured out until he meets the acerbic Kristin Peralta (Nadine Velazquez), a therapist who’s convinced he’s nothing but a fraud. Matthew’s life is turned upside down when he inadvertently falls for Kristin and has to face the painful truth of his past relationship.
The film was produced by Bounce Back LLC and owned by Shemar Moore in partnership with Ray Brown. Through grassroots efforts, Moore’s fan base helped to kick-off the initial funding, which was solidified by Moore’s personal contribution to independently bring this film to fruition.
Blackfilm.com spoke exclusively with Moore on his experience working on this film and starting a new chapter in his career leaving the veteran TV series.
When did you decide you wanted to do a film in which you fully finance?
Shemar Moore: You know this whole process has been quite eye opening and a wonderful learning experience, but 24 years in the game almost and here was an opportunity. I knew a few years ago that I was going to be looking to make a transition. I thought of leaving Criminal Minds and trying to take the next step. The example that I use is once a upon a time Denzel Washington was on a television show called ‘St. Elsewhere,’ and he was a pretty big deal doing his thing, but he took a leap of faith and then ‘Glory’ happened and now look at who he’s become. Another example is George Clooney once upon a time was on a show called ‘ER’ and he was a pretty popular cat and he believed in himself, and next thing you know he got 10 million dollars to be Batman, and now he’s pretty much an icon. I’m not saying that I’m those dudes, but I look at examples like that and it inspires me to just keep on kind of reaching and seeing how high I could fly.
I love what I do in front of the camera and what I’ve gotten to do through the years and I intend and hope to continue telling stories and entertaining folks for the next 30 years as an actor, but now the way, now with the possibilities of how you can treat content and as an actor and just as a creator and so I’d be wearing this producing hat for the first time, it’s been a really really kind of a learning and proud experience. So this script, The Bounce Back, has been around for about 10 years and with my name on it, but just the timing of where I was with my career, you know, I was pretty much in the beginning stages of getting Criminal Minds started and getting the foundation built over there, so the timing didn’t work out but then it came full circle and, to be honest before executive producing or financing my own movie I strictly went around town with the scripts and okay I mean I’m going to be leaving Criminal Minds I’m going to need a job, and so rather than waiting for Hollywood to, for my phone to ring and for the parts to be out there, you know … If you sit back and wait for Hollywood to come to you you might be waiting a long time, or you may have to consider projects that may not be in your bigger interest.
So this was just a really good, it was just a fun little script. I just thought it was a good story and I looked at it, and I looked, to be honest, I looked at the story and it could by anybody’s story. It’s a very cynical, fun script. It’s a very simple, fun field day movie with a bunch of elements too. We didn’t reinvent the wheel on love, but I think we found an original, fun way to look at love and relationships and friendships and parenting. This element to real life that I think no matter who you are, male or female, young or old, black, white, green or yellow, what I’m very proud of is there’s a bunch of color on the screen. I’m biracial, black and white, Bill is black, Nadine is Latin, we’ve got Indian, we’ve got white. There’s a bunch of big color on the screen, but it’s telling us a colorless story. Now whether that message jumps off the screen and is there for the arguments, but for me I like that it’s not just a coping thing, it’s not just a black thing, it’s not just a white thing, it’s not really stuck in a box.
Which in it’s simplicity it’s just a fun little project, and so I shopped it around town, and people were like “Oh yeah it’s a good idea.” I got real cool reactions and they’re like, “Okay we’ll see what’s on my schedule.” Or they would shrug and tell me. I didn’t really get any real, real excitement behind it, but my mother gave me a card that said to believe in yourself. People roll the dice, don’t take no for an answer. Don’t you dare win. I’ve made a couple nickles in the time that I’ve in my career. I said I think that I can, I know what I can do as a character and I said if I was to produce this I have relationships and friendships and so I just have to make the decision because I’m going to go for it. And there were a lot of negative fears like don’t do it, don’t spend your own money, it’s too risky, and I was just like you know what I just believe that, something told me that I could get it done. That’s what I’m most proud of.
I hope people enjoy the movie. I hope people have a good time with it, but to be able to make a movie the way that I approached it, and I went and got you know my business partner Ray Brown, and he’s very well versed. The P & A and distribution and marketing and getting theater out of this because my production company is called Ankle Socks and Baseball Pants, and what I want people to know is that yes I spent my own money and I also got help from the fans. So yes it’s my road, but it’s also our road.
I call my fans homies fans and baby girl, and I reached out to them, two years and some change ago like this is just an idea, and when can we get the whole crowd funding process to be a go go, and then just over a month my fans brought $630,000 to the table, which was extraordinary. Which was a big pat on a back and a hug from my fans, and I knew that they believe in me, they believe in my idea, and it wasn’t so much that I needed their money, because in all reality I could’ve gone to a bank and got a loan, but by them stepping up with $630,000 they let me know that I was on to something. They also let, will let come December 9th, will let Hollywood know that I have a very loyal fan base and also that there’s a desire and a yearning for content to possibly that the machine of Hollywood is not considering.
And this is just a great way to showcase original ideas to begin the process, so I went and got some friends, I got Bill Bellamy, funny man Bill Bellamy. I got Nadine Velazquez. I like to joke that I stole her from from Denzel Washington. She was in the movie ‘Flight,’ so it’s just fun to say, “Oh yeah I got you from Denzel. Come play with me.” And she loved the script, and everybody involved, I mean, it’s not a big budget by any means. This is the little train that could. This is just a little passion project, and all these actors came together, and they didn’t get paid a lot of money. There wasn’t a lot, but they believed in me. They believed in me. They believed in the characters. So for Bill and Nadine to Michael Beach, who is a well accomplished actor, took on a very small role, but he just liked the bigger picture and the message and what it was about. Cheryl Underwood was in there. Vanessa Bell Calloway came along. Her part didn’t make the movie but she just loved what we were all trying to do, and it was nice that we all collectively just wanted to come together and tell a story in the independent route.
Being a tough guy in Criminal Minds for 11 years is which I love to do. I love being a bad ass. No chicken down, beating up on stuff, saving victims, flirting with my original baby girl Garcia in Criminal Minds, but I wanted to just show a color of what I’m capable of. And there’s just a feel good love story, and that was the premise of what got me rolling with it. I didn’t know how it was going to play out but something told me I’m not a quitter. I was just like so if I see this thing through, we might have a special little movie, and we might break down some barriers, and come December 9th I really believe that, whoever comes out to see it will not only enjoy the movie but hopefully appreciate how it all got in.
So besides the financing what was more challenging? Wearing many hats (producer, actor) can be frustrating. People are going to be looking at your model and they’re going to try to follow suit should this movie become very successful. You’ve seen Tyler Perry do it, and like you said you mentioned George and Denzel, but they stayed in the acting field, although Denzel is directing the upcoming Fences. You’re now transitioning into being a producer, which people always want to do, and so they want to know if it can be done. You know a lot of times you know you could’ve stayed behind the camera, but I’m sure the other financers are saying we need you to be in front of this film so we can sell it.
Shemar Moore: I’ve been chasing Mark Wahlberg since I was about 22 years old. Back when I was 22 he was 21. When I was 20 he was Marky Mark in the Funky Bunch, and then when I was 22 he was Marky Mark in Calvin Klein underwear on the side of buses and billboards, and now fast forward all of these years later, quite an accomplished career as an actor, and he’s got his name as a producer on all kinds of things. From Entourage to In Treatment, and then you look at Tyler Perry. I saw saw what he did with Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which I was fortunate enough to be in, and I saw up close that Hollywood wasn’t rational with Tyler Perry at that time. Who’s this guy from the play circuit coming out of Atlanta? Hollywood wasn’t very optimistic, but he used his own money and hyped himself up and got the Screen Gems to put back in and now look at him all these years later. The guy is worth about 600 million dollars and he’s created quite an empire of contents for himself.
I just saw that it could be done and then none of us have thoughts where, at least not through the main system, but as far as being a producer, I love acting and I’m going to continue to act and I’m not always going to produce everything that I’m in. And I’m young, I’m trying to do that world diplomat thing. Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, and Ryan Reynolds, and I love telling stories and I do what to see what I’m capable of as an actor. If I can have a George Clooney career, if I can have a Denzel career, I mean I don’t want to be them but I just want to see how high I can fly and where I can take my ability as an actor, but as a producer, and producing to me is just connecting thought, it takes detail. It’s understanding the story, understanding chemistry, and understanding performance. So as I was doing The Bounce Back, people would say, “So what kind of research did you have to do to be an active producer?” Because you’ve never seen me like that.
What is interesting, because when I was in The Young and the Restless, just in the slope of my early days, people didn’t think that I could be serious. They didn’t think that I could do drama, they didn’t think that I could be a tough guy, and now that I’ve done 11 years of a very dark and twisted dark world of serial criminals and playing an FBI agent and carrying a gun and kicking butt and all that, now people don’t realize that I have a life. So what they help associate me I’ve been able to engage with my fans and show them different parts of my personality, but this is just a simple fun movie where I got to be a charming, sweet, adorable dad who got hurt by love. And I didn’t really have to do a lot of research and that’s just life experience. Everybody has bounced back from something, whether it’s a broken heart, drop off a job, my girl lost a job, or anything. Everybody has bounced back from some type of obstacle in their life, and that’s what this movie represents.
So as far as an actor I didn’t have to dig very deep. I mean I had to do my own work and I had to memorize my lines and understand my beat, but it was more about finding the chemistry with Bill Bellamy. It was more about finding chemistry with Nadine Velazquez, and the little beautiful girl who played my daughter Nadja Alaya, but I did find myself looking back to even where I was acting opposites I was watching, especially when the camera was on me and it was time for my performance. I did what I had to do as an actor, but when the camera was, even when I was on the stage with whoever, I found myself watching and rooting for them to deliver what I knew what they wanted to deliver, what I knew they were capable of delivering. To then tell the story and to get the story the punch it needed, but I loved it. And because I was so invested, and because I love being creative like that, it didn’t feel like work. Because of this experience I know that I’m, again, I won’t produce everything, but, and if there’s a story I want to tell or a character I want to play and there’s really not a script out there that Hollywood has to offer, then yeah.
What’s wonderful about independent movies now is that you can make it. You can make a $600,000 movie, you can make a million dollar movie to about a 2 million dollar movie and I’ll produce for myself if it feels beneficial, but I’ll also produce content that has nothing to do with me being in front of the camera but I get to be a part of the idea of the process, so there’s all sorts of different ideas of content that I think people may want to see. And it’s not just about putting me on the big screen, but I do enjoy being on the screen whether it’s television, cable, features, or even theatrical.