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THE ORIGINS OF GANG GIRL aka SURREDNER – A note from the Producer, Damian Bailey
In 2005 I was a struggling actor but had a successful career as a playwright and Off-Off Broadway producer, but I was looking into a new venture to succeed in this business called Hollywood. I was heading to Los Angles to audition for some pilots while trying to sell a screenplay based on my full-length play called “Surrender.” I didn’t want to go the same route most actors turned filmmakers do; create a film for themselves about themselves. I wanted to tell a story that is hardly spoken of; Female Gangs in America.
My idea was born from my original first play, “The New Testament: Story of Paul the Apostle.” The play centered on enlightening youth about gangs and drugs in America and received high praised from the community. A great friend of mine, Anissa Chlamers, approached me with the idea to create a play with an all girl cast. I thought it was a ridiculous idea until she told me her story. She described how she used to have her own mini gang of girls, was abused at home, and ran with the thugs in the neighborhood. After hearing her story I found the all girl play idea intriguing.
The next day I did numerous searches on female gangs to find out they existed and have existed for a very long time. I’ve spoken to a few current and former gang members from the Crips and Latin Kings and I felt there was a story that needed to be shared with the world.
Inspired, I wrote the screenplay to SURRENDER. As a Born Again Christian, a big issue for me was the use of violence and profanity in a Christian based script. I knew this would cause some backfire within the church, but after prayer, I felt that I would not make this film as a “Christian Film” for Christians, but a film for everyone to see and be educated about other options in life, rather than joining a gang.
I had never directed a film before, but I knew what I wanted. I hired a filmmaker from PA named Warren Andy Painter who was also a cinematographer with his own equipment. I used Anissa Chlamers to play the lead, along with my wife Jesenia Bailey, Jada Louie, Tracey Wilson, and Tanya Thompson. The first two weeks of shooting went smooth, but soon my cinematographer had to pull out of the film. He left me with all of his equipment and on that day I became the cinematographer for the film. So, I directed, filmed, called the actors, and set up locations, transportation, catering, and costumes. The only thing I didn’t do was make-up. I hired a great artist, Jennifer Suarez, who not only performed her task with excellence but she was like my guardian angel. I also hired a production assistant/cameraman named Ryan J. Lee who was also a big help.
With a 3 man crew shooting lasted 6 months in sections of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. This movie was true Gorilla filmmaking at its best. I had to cheat a lot of shots. For example the scene where Queen V gets slashed in the county Jail laundry room, that was not a jail, but the laundry room of the building I was living in at the time. Also, while shooting a fight scene on the roof in Spanish Harlem; someone must have called the police, because 4 police cars stormed in front of the building ready to attack. I quickly ran downstairs with the camera to let them know we were shooting a film and it was all settled quickly.
After years in post production finally the film was completed. There are a lot, I mean A LOT of things I wish I could’ve done over but I have no regrets. I managed, with the grace of God and help from friends and crew, to do something most first time filmmakers never do: make a feature on a shoestring budget and get distribution without a festival. This film SURRENDER that is now known as GANG GIRL was MY film school and I’m grateful for it.
From the idea of a play to enlighten youth about gangs and drugs in America to a feature film about young women and gangs; finally we can educate the youth that love conquers all.
Gang Girl will be available on DVD everywhere starting March 23rd. Buy it, Rent it, or Queue it up!
~ Damian Bailey
Gang Girl, Writter, Director, and Producer