Meet Jacob York. Serial entrepreneur (credit his publicist for the term), content provider, vessel of knowledge, liaison of new music, culture connoisseur , brand developer, the list can go on. York is the modern day Renaissance man therefore the new hat he wears shouldn’t come as a surprise. York is one of the executive producers for the new film “Brotherly Love”. Baller Alert caught up with the culture leader and let’s just say if he ever does speaking engagements, your attendance should be mandatory.
In the 90’s York was responsible for putting out platinum acts such as Lil Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A. He also worked with the late rap icon, Biggie. York and his business partner, Lance “Un” Rivera created the company , Untertainment ,where the duo continued to introduce the world to great acts such as Cam’ron and Dipset. After selling the company, York took his talents down south ( ATL to be exact) where he became a consultant for the record labels (Sony, Epic, RCA, Columbia, Atlantic, Universal, etc). He was the “guy that brought a lot of the talent from the south up to these labels and consulted the labels on how to market and develop the talent”. If you were in Atlanta and were signed between 2000 and 2007, There is 95% chance York did the deal. How does a music industry veteran transcend from music to film? Well, he built upon the relationships he had in the industry and a nudge or two in the direction of film from partner, Lance Rivera (The Cookout) helped. York reached out to Queen Latifah’s partner Shakim Compere. In 2012 York did the movie “Percentage” .
About Brotherly Love
York received a call from his friend of 20 something years , Charlie, who happens to be apart of Will Smith’s camp. Explaining that he had a young writer, Charlie sent the script to York who decided to put up his own money to make the film only after 24 hours of having the script. According to York, the process became focusing on distribution and getting the movie to a point where it could be in theatres. After consulting with Shakim, who also loved the script, the next thing York knew, they were shooting a movie.
On York’s role as executive producer
His role developed as executive producer when he ( Electric Republic ) and Jacoby Films co-financed the movie. “ Everything from filming it to P &A (promotions and advertising to put it in theatres).
Queen Latifah’s role as exec producer and what it was like working with her
Queen Latifah’s and Shakim’s company Flavor Unit has a distribution division ( One Unit) that helps facilitate putting movies in theatres and obtain the licensing for television, Netflix and so forth.” They came in as executive producers because of their expertise”. York states that “it was a pleasure” working with Queen Latifah.
The cast selection
“Ke Ke Palmer came as a result of Shakim. Corey Hardict and Eric Hill came as a result of Kim Harden, the casting director”. What most would find interesting is that Ke Ke Palmer went against her agent who advised against the indie black film. “She felt like this tory needed to be told”. York states that all of the producers were blown away with Corey Hardict ‘s reading.
The hardest part in creating “Brotherly Love”
“ I would say when we got into production. We fast racked. That was the easy part, but once we got on set it was just difficult. We had a micro budget (anything under $10,000,000 in Hollywood). How do we pool in all of our relationships to get the movie on the screen. Anything that could go wrong went wrong from the lights breaking to the generators blowing out to not having enough trailers to toilets breaking” York revisits the first day of shooting at Overbrook High. The school of 2,000 + was open and the students were running on set. “The most difficult part was to get through those 21 days of shooting. The most extremely difficult part was hopping it in Hollywood”.
The stereotype of an all black film
“No. Even though it is executive produced, financed, distributed by black people, young black talent acts, I didn’t find it to beat the stereotype. I just think that Hollywood had the perception that urban films just didn’t sell. We said “hey , we’ll finance our own stuff and put in theatres”. Now Hollywood is saying “hey guys, this is great what ya’ll are doing”. I come from the music business. That is the concept of the music business. Why do you think Master P went independent or Cash Money or a lot of these guys in the south that were going to do something? They went independent because these record companies didn’t understand the music. It’s the same thing like Hollywood. They don’t understand urban content. And I’m not saying they don’t understand any other content, I’m just saying when it comes to urban film making, they don’t understand it. My philosophy was I’m not going to try to convince you. There are outlets now where you can independently release movies in major theatres. AMC has a great program. There are a couple of independent distributors that are willing to risk it and that’s what they did”
Regarding the direction of his career and future endeavors
York has created the app Prophytes.com (Prophytes, LLC) that allow members of the Greek community (individuals that pledged fraternities/sororities) to create a social location . He states “We are going to go further. We are trying to expand into all regions of media, so yeah it is going to grow. I’m not going to stop doing any of the businesses that I have. It is just one more facet. One more vision. Yes it is going to be a lot more movies, a lot more television, a lot more media and digital properties. There is going to be a lot more coming. This company is 25 years in the making and it is still evolving.”
The similarities and differences between Hollywood and the music industry
“ I’ll say the difference is the liberalization of music. In Hollywood, it’s very seldom that you get an urban movie that does the type of caliber as a non urban movie does. Well, lets say music. Rap music can be number one . Lil Wayne can out sell Cold Play. The problem is Hollywood is that it is seldom that an urban film will out sell typecast. There is liberalization to music where Hollywood tends to be less liberal. It’s an uphill battle, but the good about it is , the similarities , there is always an alternative to the machine. That’s what I like about Hollywood. That’s where brotherly love comes to an effect. We said, OK Hollywood, you don’t get it. We’re not mad that you don’t get it. We are going to go here and do it ourselves. In Hollywood there has never been a black person that has headed the studio, in music, there has been a bunch of them”.
We at Baller Alert are super excited about “Brotherly Love” and wish trail blazer, Jacob York, much success in all of his future endeavors. Be sure to check out his app Prophytes! “Brotherly Love” opens in theatres Friday, April 22, 2015. It is being revered as one of the classics in urban film. Be sure to support the hard work of all parties involved. I have my tickets, get yours.
Peep the trailer below
I would like to thank Mr. York and his team for facilitating this interview. It was my pleasure . The insight was incredible.