From stage to screen, indie film 'Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys' is the product of community
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
In late August, I visited Arts Mission Oak Cliff for a screening of the independent film, Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys. The film is local in the truest sense with a team comprised of Dallas theatre and filmmakers. The movie even takes place inside a small Dallas apartment. In the marketing, the movie is described as a cross between Get Out and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I was intrigued, and after seeing the hilarious and sometimes shocking film, I was curious about the process. What gave Writer and Director Ruben Carrazana the idea for the story? How did a group of young theatre artists end up creating a feature-length independent film -- and how did they pull up such a high-quality production? I sat down with Carrazana and Executive Producer Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso to find out.
Something that interested me the most was that Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys started out as a play. Carrazana shared that the inspiration behind the story came from a story he read online: "It was this message board where this guy was going on there, asking for help on how to save his marriage. He said that him and his wife are incapable of being physically intimate with one another for years. And he had tried everything. The one thing he hadn't tried as a couple was introducing a third person. And he goes into some pretty explicit detail..."
The story preoccupied Carrazana, so he decided to write about it. Primarily an actor, he started with the medium he's most comfortable with -- plays. He spent three years writing the play, having readings and editing sessions in his spare time with friends and colleagues, and eventually felt it was ready for a production. He said, "I was part of a theatre collective called The Tribe, and some of them read the script and felt it was ready for a production, so we got a grant from the City of Dallas."
The play was well-received, but Carrazana didn't think it had a long life as a play. He was satisfied with the production and didn't know if he wanted to solicit other theatre companies to produce it. From the community and audience feedback however, he understood that there was a desire to have more people see the work. It was Jasso's husband and personal friend of Carrazana who suggested they turn the play into a film. Carrazana admitted, "I thought about it, and I was like - that sounds ridiculously impossible. I've never done anything like that before. Okay, let's do it!"
Jasso then came on board as Executive Producer, which was a new experience for her. She shared, "I thought this would be something that I can really do to home in on a skill set that I'd like to be stronger at. And also fulfill me in a different way. I'm [primarily] an actor. And people don't really see what a Producer does in the background. This was my first attempt, my first opportunity to be in that role. I wanted to do this. I wanted to be a part of this project. So, we say what my strengths are and what are Ruben's strengths and how can we work on this together and truly collaborate?"
As Executive Producer, Jasso was also instrumental in the fundraising for the project. She told me, "my strength is really networking. I'm not afraid to go to strangers and ask for money...I'm really willing to just talk to people and get to know people. And I was so excited about this project, I think I was able to excite other people about it too...I think we knew that was something I could help with."
Before long, they had assembled enough key crew members to move forward with funding and Jasso's networking skills came in handy. They were able to produce the film through a combination of grants, private donors, and a Kickstarter campaign. Carrazana and Jasso made it clear that the film wouldn't have been possible without the support of the theatre and film community in Dallas. Jasso said, "If you look at our Kickstarter donors, to our investors, to our producers, our entire team -- it wasn't just Ruben and me. I wish I could list all the humans involved in this project. So many people made this possible, and without them we wouldn't be here. I think that speaks to how strong our community is, and how excited our community is to do the work and to work together."
The artistic community in Dallas didn't just support the project financially. Transitioning from a theatrical process to a film crew was new to both Carrazana and Jasso, and the community was integral in the success of that transition. Carrazana told me that, "the cast and crew was a nice combo of theatre and film people here in town...but the first person we needed to have on board...was the Director of Photography. So, we reached out to Adolfo Cantú-Villareal, who had done some marketing for us for the film. He had a lot more experience with film than I did. He said he'd absolutely be interested. So, once we had the cast and Adolfo on board, we knew the film was a real possibility...and we ended up with about 10 people on the team, plus cast and crew and producers and me. And we had people on the team we'd never worked with before, and over the course of filming we just became this close-knit family."
Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys is clearly the product of determination and collaboration. The movie succeeds in its aim to provoke thought and reflection without being didactic. It makes you laugh, you might feel angry, and you'll want to talk about it afterwards.
The next screening of Stacy Has a Thing for Black Guys is Saturday, October 19th at 8:00pm at Stage West - 821 W Vickery Blvd, Fort Worth. See the official trailer, meet the cast and crew, and grab your tickets for the screening at www.stacyhasathingforblackguys.com. For a peek behind the scenes and real time updates about the film, check out the movie's blog at www.stacyhasathingforblackguys.com/updates.