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COKI PRODUCTIONS

Fray Forde and Catherine Dee Holly- a couple from seemingly opposite worlds but not quite, are chasing their Hollywood dreams one kick a** independent film at a time. Together the curly-haired duo, formed Coki productions named after their beloved pomeranian. What a lucky dog!

Fray and Holly birthed the creation of “Good Hair,” a film centering a couple blessed with massive manes that are in a never-ending feud over “conditioner.” The production was selected by comedic veteran Kevin Hart to screen at the world’s largest comedy festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, Canada.

Following the film’s success, the stakes are high, but according to the pair, that’s a good thing. Coki Productions is releasing their second project on Aug. 29. called “Pop-Pop is Dead,” which was inspired after both South Carolina natives suffered a few family losses. The chaos surrounding the deaths somehow brought laughter into the atmosphere, causing the two to write a script.

“With the movie, we wanted to flip some of those Southern funeral tropes on their heads. The first thing we did was skip the funeral altogether. We wanted to do something more interesting,” says Fray. Their version of a wake involves a wild party with unlimited Moonshine. Now that sounds like a plan!

Fraye and Holly spoke with Ndlyss to give us the inside scoop on their new film, the nightmares of crowdfunding, and dissected a few dreadful Southern stereotypes.

How did you two connect to establish Coki Productions?

Catherine: We met on a film set in South Carolina. We are both from South Carolina but didn’t know [each] other when we lived there. I had just moved back from [Los Angeles] and my friend asked me to co-direct a short [film]. Fray was one of the replacement actors for one of the actors that had dropped out. The relationship didn’t begin there. We [started] dating after we both ended up in Atlanta. From there, we sat down to make something and in the process of that we realized we liked each other more as friends – 6 months later we [produced] our film “Good Hair.” That’s how Coki Productions was formed. We named it after our dog, Coki. [chuckles]

“Pop-Pop is Dead” is the polar opposite of “Good hair,” which shows range within your directorial skills. What spurred the inspiration to pen this narrative?

Fray: After we finished “Good Hair” we were kind of spinning our wheels a lot, trying to figure out where to go next. While we were on the film festival circuit, we dealt with some losses in our family. We saw how crazy it made everybody. It was the most emotional stakes we had ever seen and we saw comedy in it. We started writing from there and then it grew into sort of a love letter to our hometowns and the South.

COKI PRODUCTIONS

Americans seem to harbor some very strange beliefs and priorities in connection with funerals. What are your thoughts?

Catherine: I don’t think we celebrate, at least, not where I’m from. I do think it’s a big ordeal and multiple-day thing. It’s very rooted in Southern Baptist religion. It’s usually a church ceremony and a receiving of friends where people come into your home and bring you food for days at a time. The appropriate behavior is to “ball your eyes out.” I’ve always felt a lot of pressure going to Southern funerals because I had a thing where I didn’t like crying in public. It upset my family that I wouldn’t cry at funerals. It was definitely expected. You’re the first person to ask us this question. Pretty cool!

Following the critical acclaim of “Good Hair,” are the expectations absurdly high for “Pop-Pop is Dead?”         

Catherine: Totally! We question that all the time and we’re always like, “Is this one a piece of sh*t and we just don’t know it?” This move is very similar because Fray and I are doing what we do best, which is playing a couple. Besides that, thematically nothing else is really similar in this film. We forced ourselves into this big premiere so clearly we like putting the stakes high. We just pray we don’t drown- that’s the motto. [burst of laughter]

Fray: “Good Hair” is a very simple story about a couple that focuses on conditioner. This time we wanted to go bigger; it’s more of an ensemble cast where we focus on other characters outside of ourselves. It does feel like the stakes are high but we like the stakes being higher, it’s more fun.

What prompted the decision to integrate yourselves into the story opposed to casting other actors to play the lead roles?                                                   

Fray: Our dream is to have a TV show that focuses on a couple, admittedly us. I think we might be narcissistic. [laughs] Essentially, what we’re trying to do with our films is show that we can carry this kind of story format over multiple storylines.

Catherine: And [show that] we’re good at multiple lengths because “Good Hair” runs 24 minutes, which is kind of like our dream 22-ish-minute pilot. “Pop-Pop is Dead” is 60 minutes, which is our dream TV-movie pilot for a 1-hour dramedy. These stories felt so personal to us as well. With “Good Hair,” that situation of a couple picking hair condition so seriously… that only happens to me and Fray. After we made the film, we realized how universal that was when I had so many women come up to me and say, “I have to scream at him about my conditioner all the time!” It’s not that specific, but at the time, we felt like we were the only ones that could play that role.

“Pop-Pop is Dead” was so personal to my family and roots. I felt like I could trust myself the most with the part if that makes sense.”

COKI PRODUCTIONS

How do you both manage to act and direct at the same time while maintaining quality?

Fray: Usually, you’re writing it and your like, “We can do this!” Then you get on set, and you’re like, “Why did we think we could do this?” “Good Hair” was harder because we had never made a film before. That was a steep learning curve on our end. This time, we came in more prepared because we knew we couldn’t do it by ourselves. We did 4 months of pre-production. Our producer, Andrew B., was there through the entire process. When we were in scenes together, he was the guy behind the monitor making sure we captured the thing we intended from the beginning.

What are the biggest challenges with crowdfunding your films and has the process altered your perception about getting financed?

Catherine: We hate crowdfunding! It’s very challenging and we’re not very good at it. We still haven’t cracked it. Now, that’s not to take away from everyone who did show support to us because we did raise money. Although, we raised nowhere near the overall budget of the film. However, it was helpful and appreciated. We started to get into the system of private investors and have had executive producers who’ve come on board. That’s how we’ve made the majority of our budget. We were totally more successful with finding people who really believe in us and have a couple thousand dollars to put behind the passion projects.

“I find it difficult trying to get people to support your art, especially with money. It’s hard because there are a lot of other important things going on in the world.”

Atlanta is reported to now be the home of a $7 billion dollar film industry, how has your experience been working in what’s considered to be the “New Hollywood?”

Fray: There is no way in the world we could have made this film in Los Angeles or New York. We shot the film in Gaffney, South Carolina at Catherine’s childhood home, but the entire cast and crew was from Atlanta. We stayed in Airbnb’s with air mattresses everywhere… that wouldn’t happen in Los Angeles. There’s more community support here. [One thing] about Atlanta is that everyone’s hungry right now and willing to put the time in. You just don’t see that anywhere else.

The film premieres at Buckhead Theatre  in Atlanta on Wed. Aug. 29 To purchase tickets, head to www.poppopisdead.com.

Take a listen to the “Pop-Pop’s Dead” full soundtrack featuring songs from Jenna Desmond, Susto and Babe Club,  Matthew Lohan from Dyado, and the High Divers.

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Showtime picks up Drake-Produced ‘Ready for War’ Docuseries

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Mr. Graham has proved he can’t be stopped in the music business time and time again. Now the 32-year-old rap star is taking on Hollywood.

Following the premiere of his HBO series Euphoria, it’s been announced that Drake is producing yet another small-screen production. Showtime has ordered Ready for War, a four-part feature documentary helmed by Drake and his manager Adel “Future” Nur.

Ready for War centers U.S. military veterans and their forced recruitment into Mexican drug cartels. Exploring post-military issues such as PTSD, drug abuse, criminal convictions for combat veterans and bigger consequences for immigrant soldiers.

The docuseries also takes a look at the differences native-born U.S. and immigrant soldiers face when convicted of a crime.

The series examines the lives three green card holding soldiers who are experiencing the cycle in different phases. One soldier is situated in Tijuana attempting to reunite with his family back in America, another one is in ICE detention fighting deportation, and the other is heavily involved with a drug cartel in Ciudad Juarez.

A trailer and premiere date have not yet been released.

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Veteran Producer kickstarts $15 Million Campaign To Combat Abortion Bans

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Asa Mathat

It’s no secret Hollywood is outraged over anti-abortion laws being passed on the state level, especially when the industry’s new film capital Georgia followed suit.

Veteran producer Peter Chernin is turning the boycott up several notches. Chernin has reportedly launched a multi-million dollar campaign to combat the new legislation and is calling for major backing.

Chernin is partnering with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero on the fundraising effort. The email seeks $15 million by July 1, according to Deadline.

“I am launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the ACLU’s legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion effort,” he wrote, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story. “We have a moral responsibility to act immediately.”

“We were conflicted about contributing to the health of an economy and a state that had declared war on the rights and freedom of its women. On one hand, if we chose the boycott route, thousands of jobs would be lost ultimately damaging workers who rely on production for livelihood, including many women. We also know that the only way to fight the massive, now national incursion on women’s rights is through a legal battle, a battle that needs funding and on the ground support via organizations like the ACLU who are powering up to overturn the law. So our choice became pretty clear we will stay in Georgia, stand shoulder to shoulder with the women of that state and the states under attack, and fight to win.”

Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Utah have implemented the new bill in recent weeks.

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Chance the Rapper’s modernized ‘All That’ theme song is incredible

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Popular Nickelodeon sketch comedy show, All That is making a comeback this month. Although the release date hasn’t been officially announced of who is performing the new theme, hip-hop star Chance the Rapper just dished out one hell of a hint.

Photo: John Tsiavis/Nickelodeon

Recently, The Chicago emcee previewed his version of the theme on Instagram. Chance is shown jamming in the clip to the new gospel/hip hop infused theme. It not only features a choir but also a few bars from Chance, suggesting it will be used for the show. Check it out below.

The All That revival will premiere June 15th on Nickelodeon. Original cast members Kel Mitchell, Lori Beth Denberg, and Josh Server will make appearances alongside a new cast of young comedians.

ALL THAT, (l-r): Katrina Johnson, Lori Beth Denberg, Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, Alisa Reyes, Josh Server, Angelique Bates, 1994-2005,Courtesy: Everett Collection

Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper is currently working on his full-length debut album titled OwBum, which is slated for a July release.

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