I had recently had the privilege to write up some questions for Detroit’s filmmaker and Executive Producer, Ken “Legend” Williams, and Co-Producer, KC Carson, to talk about their film, Asbury Park, which is dropping November 3rd on Tubi! Thank you guys for giving me this opportunity to highlight your film, but first… Let us highlight and show the readers the trailer of the film.
Let’s get this interview going with my first question, shall we? 🙂
I love to hear folks’ stories and give artists an opportunity to share their stories. This is the essential part of my blog. How did you know when filmmaking was going to become your path? Did y’all always know from an early age or was it a happy accident, as Bob Ross would say?
Legend: I’ve been in love with stories since I was in the 5th grade. Around that time I realized that not only did I love hearing them, but I loved telling them as well. Writing for me became an everyday practice. I loved movies and wanted to get into filmmaking, but I knew I was too poor to attend film school so I brushed that dream aside. In 2006 a friend of mind, who was a huge fan of my stories, told me about a production team who was looking for writers. I offered to write the script for free if they taught me how to make a movie.
KC: Honestly it happened by accident. I’ve always loved movies and film, I even wanted to be an actor at a point in life. Once I met Legend our chemistry and vibe was organic. I made a decision once we became friends that I wanted to do this full time, so I’ve dedicated all of my time and resources into growing and learning every aspect of the film business. This was God’s plan it wasn’t mine, I’m just walking in my destiny.
We have a mutual and an amazing talent within this industry. You recently teamed up with Tray Chaney on a new project called Asbury Park.” How did y’all meet and get connected with Tray?
Legend: I’ve always been a fan of Tray since he was on The Wire. I followed him on social media. I loved his grind. I reached out to him just to say keep up the good work and I let him know I loved his grind. We’ve been stuck together ever since.
KC: I’m a huge fan of Tray’s work and work ethic. I followed him from The Wire to Saints and Sinners. Legend and I decided to reach out to him because of the value that he could bring to our team and alliance. Once we had a meeting we instantly became family and the rest is history.
What inspired the story behind “Asbury Park?” And how does it stand out from other films with similar storylines?
Legend: Asbury Park was inspired by my childhood and the fact I was tired of the same narratives and glorification of drugs and violence when it came to inner city life. Yes there are drugs and guns in urban communities. Yes people break the law. But many people are in circumstances in which they’re just trying to survive. I started carrying a gun at 12 years old. I didn’t do it to be tough, but because I was being raised in a single parent home with my mother, we lived in a neighborhood with frequent break ins and murder and if you called 9-1-1 the police wouldn’t come. I wasn’t trying to be tough, nor was I a bad kid. I was simply a boy trying to protect his mother. Asbury Park tells the story of four young men who are good kids and simply trying to survive.
KC: The story talks about the truth that happens in urban inner-city America. Every city has a ghetto, and every ghetto has a hood, and the story is the same, however the truth about survival and how people got into those situations are usually never told. It’s not always about cars, clothes, and jewelry, this story talks about perseverance, sacrifice, structure, and disciple. The real things that are needed to make something of yourself. The Asbury Park characters are individuals who were forced to survive by any means once they were out of options.
For those not experienced with filmmaking, how long of a process was the creation of this film?
KC: Legend started the script back in 2018, the film was delayed in 2019 due to an unexpected death of a cast member. The film was set for production for the spring of 2020, and unfortunately the pandemic made us put the brakes on once again. It took quite a few months to complete because we filmed during the heart of the pandemic, and there were a few untimelier road blocks, however we persevered and completed the film.
Asbury Park drops in just a couple days on November 3rd on Tubi. Y’all have some big names in this film including huge talents like Glenn Plummer, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from The Wire & the Rapper Peter Gunz. Also, Jamal Woolard, who killed his role as the legend, B.I.G. in his biopic, Notorious, as well as, TuPac’s, All Eyez On Me. What surprised you the most with working with such talents?
Legend: I learned how easy they all were to work with and how much they were willing to help me as a newer director. Glenn Plummer, Fredro Starr, and Jermaine Hopkins were all very good with pulling me to the side to offer suggestions.
KC: I think I was most surprised at how down to earth everyone was and how they were willing to extend an olive branch to us seeing that we are an independent team. Not one of the celebrities brought an ego or attitude with them. They were very down to earth, humble, and professional. Each person gave us a different outlook and perspective of the business that was priceless.
As Asbury Park comes to life for y’all, I feel it’s very essential to give equal opportunities to black filmmakers to create their stories on the big screen. Do y’all feel that there is such a shift now with social media and the current climate our nation is in the present?
Legend: I think one of the positives that came with the pandemic is that people were forced to view films at home instead of running to the theaters. More content was being consumed which caused the need for more of it to be created. While Hollywood was shut down, independent filmmakers, such as myself, was able to navigate the filming process more freely than the bigger studios. Streaming platforms and social media allows us to go directly to the consumers. This allows us, as black filmmakers, to tell our own stories.
What do you feel needs to happen to elevate more stories to the level of Marvel Studios “Black Panther” to continue to lift black voices and representation of the black community and to make sure y’all are being heard?
Legend: We need to collectively invest in the telling of our own stories and supporting our own films. Hollywood cares about money, so if we can show that our people will pay to watch films, then we’ll be placed in a better position to tell them.
KC: It’s actually very simple. It’s all about supporting one another. There is enough money to go around so there is no reason for us not to support each other. If our community ever comes together and truly supports one another the way that other communities support each other, we could truly change the landscape and dynamic of the film industry.
As you continue to grow as filmmakers, what did you learn from producing, creating, and bringing this current film for life?
Legend: I’ve learned that anything is possible. I also see the importance of having a strong team that you can trust. Having KC and Tray on my team makes my job a lot easier because they’re two guys who are brutally honest, but who I know are about their business.
KC: I’ve learned that no idea is too big or crazy. With the technology that is available to us there is nothing that can’t be done. The most important part of this is having a strong team who all have a common goal. No egos, and no pride. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so we make sure all of our links are strong.
I want to thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to allow me to interview and make this connection with all three of you. I have one more question for the both of you. Can you share any advice or tidbits for any young filmmaker out there trying to create and bring their own stories to life??
Legend: Don’t let money stop you from telling your story. If you have a story to tell, write it and shoot it. I don’t care if it’s on an IPhone. Get it done. If you make mistakes along the way, so what. Learn from them and keep growing.
KC: I believe that there is a valuable lesson learned even in defeat. So don’t worry about mistakes and what you don’t know. Ask questions study and learn, however the most important part is to finish the race. Don’t stop or quit and there is always an audience out there even for the most peculiar topics. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from fulfilling your dreams and destiny.