In his film,‘The Alliance’, Robert L Butler Jr takes us into the crime world as four drug dealers call a truce and form an alliance. Things take a turn for the worse when after 20 years of peace,one of the members is forced to kill the others… And yes, it’s just as suspenseful and thrilling as you would expect.
CULT CRITIC – What inspired the creation of the film?
ROBERT – The HBO series “The Wire” was my main inspiration. They had a co-op and stopped fighting amongst each other and agreed to truce all profit off the drugs, so The Alliance follows that same premise.
CULT CRITIC – What is the message you are trying to send?
ROBERT – The message in the drug game, nothing good last forever, every empire or alliance no matter how strong it may seem, has fallen due to betrayal.
CULT CRITIC – Can you share interesting stories from the production process?
ROBERT – While talking about the script to Sonia Carrillo my hair and makeup artist, her son Alonzo was in the back room. He had overheard our conversation about the film and came out and said he loved what he had heard so far asked if I needed music, I was like yes sir! A few weeks later I was contacted by another local rapper Thaartist Kali, and he asked if he could be apart of the film and offered to write music. I sent both the script and they both wrote songs for the film and they have won a total of 10 awards and 6 nominations for best film soundtrack.
CULT CRITIC – What were the biggest challenges you faced during production and how did you overcome them?
ROBERT – My biggest challenge was dealing with a crew member that was constantly late to the set. This person was supposed to be one of my biggest supporters for making the film, but his lackadaisical work ethic and unprofessionalism on set was very trying for me and created tension between us on set, and some scenes were either not filmed, or not done the way I had envisioned them to be done. Many times, I had to pull him aside and talk to him on set during and after filming, and I bit my tongue a lot, because my main focus was to do what had to be done to complete the film. But this person decided to leave the project on his own before it was completed, and I am happy to say the rest of the filming went smooth and there was no stress at all.
CULT CRITIC – Tell us about your working process with the actors.
ROBERT – I had a lot of actors and actresses that had either never been in a film or had been in a film but never spoke on screen before. The advice I gave them was to learn your lines first, do not rehearse them just know them, that way you can take direction better, I also gave more of the dialogue heavy scenes to the more experienced actors and actresses. Most important thing I told them is don’t worry about the camera, and a few times I told them the camera was not rolling when it actually was.
CULT CRITIC – Are the characters based on real life people or a real event?
ROBERT – No it’s all make believe.
CULT CRITIC – What films did you draw inspiration from when working on ‘The Alliance’? What did you gather from them and what did you do differently?
ROBERT – Films like The Godfather, Scarface, Paid in Full, 8 Million Ways to Die, were inspirational , all these films had all the elements that you encounter in the drug game,money,power, revenge, murder, betrayal and it’s very hard to remain on top, also each film has memorable lines that when you hear them you know what movie it came from and who said it, and I am hoping that I have created some memorable lines from The Alliance that some fans might remember.
CULT CRITIC – What did you learn from making this film and what advice can you give those who are about to shoot their first feature?
ROBERT – I learned most of all it takes teamwork to make the dream work! You can do it alone, and don’t try to do it alone. You must have a good team that believes in you from the start and to the end. Be proud of your work and enter it into film festivals, self-promotion, feed your cast and crew regardless if you pay them and treat them with respect, always thank them and acknowledge them especially if you do win some awards. Can’t say this enough teamwork-makes-the-dream-work!
CULT CRITIC – What can you tell us about your next project?
ROBERT – I am currently writing a prequel to The Alliance called “Love and Loyalty”, which will go into more detail on how the alliance was formed and working on a sequel to the alliance as well. So stayed tuned!