Spotlight on Ohlone:
Hair Biz: a culmination of characters

By Nazia Mastan, Features Editor.

Thursday, November 12, 2009—Reprinted from Monitor.

Group photo.Back right, Keefe, Reverend Ivory Bennet, Ramonda Cutrer, Alexis Bennett, Miss Monika, Bernard Naidu, Michael Gammach. Front right, Brittnei Washington. —Staff photo.

“After falling down, we can get up. No matter what you’re going through, it’s not the end.” A message that the warm cast of Hair Biz gives us. I hope that the chemistry the cast and crew had between them during the interview with the Monitor manifests itself in their production Hair Biz.

The movie Hair Biz is directed and produced by Keefe. It's underlying theme and series of scenes is based on Keefe and a confidant’s experiences in cosmetology school. The characters in the movie act out a story about Donnell, played by Michael Gammach, who is struggling to get through cosmetology school and become a renown hairstylist. Hair Biz is about Donnell’s trials and tribulations and how the rest of the characters help him get through them, and thus grow as a person. Keefe further explains the story line as “about what profits a man to gain the world and lose his sole.” An interesting theme considering the fact that the real character and soul of the cast seems quiet strong.

Ohlone’s own EOPS and CARE Coordinator Sandy Bennet stars as Mrs. Davis-the “stoic cosmetology instructor who believes in her students, but gets frustrated with them because they are not taking it [cosmetology school] seriously. Which is contrary to how I feel about my students,” said Sandy Bennet. The movie proves to be a family affair, Bennet’s daughter Alexis plays Nikki in the film. She is Donnell’s girlfriend who has to deal with much of his flirtatious mischief, given his obvious charm and swagger.

Interestingly, Michael, who is Donnell in the the movie, feels that the role is similar to who he is in reality because “Donnell’s chasing a dream like I am, I’m just living it acting.”

Hair Biz’s cast came to the Monitor looking great and explicated their chemistry through finishing each others’ sentences as well as allowing each cast member’s talent to shine. The movie features new and experienced actors, who are “loosely based on characters from my experience in cosmetology school,” said Keefe. Some cast members, such as Reverend Richardson, who in actuality is Sandy Bennett’s husband Reverend Ivory Bennet, were cast through their chance encounters with Keefe

Group of people sitting at a table laughing. The cast of the film Hair Biz came together for a Monitor interview, it is apparent in this photo that their chemistry permeated the atmosphere. —Staff photo.

Miss Monika is the Casting Director of Hair Biz and Owner /Director of MTM Models and brought in many of the actors. Keefe explains that Miss Monika cast people that didn’t come off as “actors” but as people with morals, honesty and trustworthiness. She helped Keefe build a foundation for the movie and assisted in creating a “nurturing environment where people can learn about this [film] industry.” Her expertise in selecting the cast members is apparent because of the familial atmosphere that is felt when the cast is together.

Hair Biz proves to be a highly collaborative effort in that Keefe and cast members were open to changes and suggestions by other members of the cast and crew. A pivotal player in the Hair Biz production is another Ohlone staff member, Shawna Luce. She has a Masters in Communication from San Jose State University, which has aided her in her job as script supervisor. Luce dictated which scenes needed to be shot, in which locations, and what to change in ones that were weak.

The collaboration even went as far as meeting off-set to work on relationships with one another, so as to perform fluid scenes. Dorothy Green, who is Donnell’s mother in the movie, is played by Ramonda Curtrer. His father, Donald Green is acted by Bernard Naidu, who met with Ramonda off set so they could get to know one another.

This initial meeting helped to create a more realistic scene that portrayed chemistry between the two actors. The rest of the cast seems to contribute a lot to the movie too, which does not yet have a shooting-end date.

The cast seems to genuinely get along, their laughs and shared experiences made me want to sit with them and ponder the makings of a great movie, which I feel Hair Biz will be if the cast portrays their sense of kinship within the movie.After shooting, Hair Biz's next step is to be submitted to film festivals.

It is also important that the film be picked up by a distributor so we can all enjoy it.

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