16 May For Justice – Network Pilot for CBS
A call came in… What was my availability looking like to score a network pilot. Oh, for Ava? I was all in! I’d been in since “I Will Follow”…
Ava DuVernay hired me to score FOR JUSTICE, the topical CBS pilot she was directing, based on the James Patterson novel, “The Thomas Berryman Number” and adapted by Law & Order’s Rene Balcer. The pilot was centered on FBI agent Chapin (Anika Noni Rose) and Justice Department lawyer Kinney (Shawn Hatosy) as they led an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division into the brutal murder of an African American business leader in small-town Ohio. There, they confronted seething divides between the local community and the police force.
Thanks to Ava’s musical sensibilities, it was an artistically creative sprint across the finish line, despite the hectic schedule of a network pilot. During the process, I was completely immersed in the world of the show, rarely peaking my head out of the studio to connect with reality. But when I did, there were some disturbing parallels. News clips of Baltimore’s riots over the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of BPD were taking place, while we were on the dub stage mixing our show’s riot scene. It was distressing and surreal.
[2020 Update] And though the pilot didn’t go to series, Freddie Gray’s legacy lives on. To quote a recent Op-Ed by his twin sister, Fredericka in the Baltimore Sun, “If there is to be a legacy, let it be that Baltimore is moving closer to a point where the police and the community become partners and not enemies. We are not there yet.”
It felt especially good to have worked with Ava, on this pilot. She not only thoughtfully infuses her art with activism, but her quest is to increase exposure and opportunities for diverse talent through her collective, originally called AFFRM [now ARRAY]. I’m proud to be an original AFFRM Rebel… The May 27th, 2015 Twitter Rebel-A-Thon was a concrete example of what Ava and her team have been doing in establishing independent film distribution and a resource collective dedicated to the amplification of independent films by people of color and women globally.