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Birmingham author, Patrese, holds casting call for upcoming movie

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Patrese with local comedian Sylvester Williams. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)
By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times

Patrese with local comedian Sylvester Williams. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)

Birmingham’s Patrese, author and co-owner of SkyBox LLC, is hosting a casting call for “The Christmas Struggle” on June 24, beginning at 4 p.m. at 526 19th Street Ensley.

The auditions are for her first film, “The Christmas Struggle” and she is looking to fill 10 roles, some of which are extras. Men and women between 18-50 years old are invited.

The movie is about married couple Ricardo and Lauren.

“Funny, sadness, betrayal,” she said of the film. “It’s some of everything. It reminds you of a Tyler Perry film.”

Ricardo is an engineer and his wife is a “spoiled brat,” Patrese said.

“He loses his job a couple of months before Christmas,” she said. “So, he’s basically struggling to figure out how he’s going to try to make everything happen for Christmas. His wife is putting pressure on him to make Christmas happen and he goes to the extreme and faces the consequences on Christmas Day.”

Patrese said a year ago that was going to write the screenplay when she met Stephen Chbosky, novelist, screenwriter, and film director, and comedian and actor Kevin Hart at BookCon in New York City.

“When I said I was going to write a movie . . . I didn’t think I was going to write a movie,” she said with a laugh. “Then (local comedian) Sylvester (Williams) came and he gave me the plot and I got done with it in two months.”

Filming will begin in July and will take place in different locations in the Birmingham area, including the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, various Southside locations, areas in the Forestdale community and the Play VIP Lounge in Ensley. The film will feature a soundtrack by local artists and local videographers at Roc Reels.

The two said they will be taking the movie to film festivals in Brooklyn and California. The movie is set to be released on Dec. 1.

Local Talent

Skybox is an entertainment company based in Birmingham that offers music and book writing, videography and filming services. Founded this month by Patrese and Williams, the two say the company offers services that “has to do with anything in the entertainment business.”

“We’re going to release quarterly projects,” Patrese said. “The first we’re going to do is Papi Chulo on the Rise, which is a short comedy film about a character Williams created.

“He’s basically introducing himself,” Williams said. “You get to know about him and his friend Ace.”

Filming “The Christmas Struggle” in Birmingham was important.

“Birmingham is growing now,” Williams said. “We were thinking about relocating to Atlanta or Texas, but we changed our minds because we wanted to stay here and be part of the growth. I’ve been in business for 10 years here, but I know it’s about to grow and I want to be part of it.”

Patrese agreed.

“We plan on going to a bigger market but I just feel like it’s so much talent in the entertainment industry,” Patrese said. “There’s not any outlets here in Birmingham for people. When I started writing I had to branch out and work with someone in Atlanta, but it’s a lot of people here in Birmingham who have ideas and want to write, but they don’t have the outlet available.”

Patrese is used to writing books –her first novel was Protect Your Entrance, and her upcoming book is Know Your Role and Play Your Part – but writing for film is different, she said.

“(Writing for film is) easier because you can do short cuts,” she said. “As far as a book, everything has to flow well. With a movie, you don’t have to break it down as much. You work off dialogue and camera direction, which I felt like was easier.”

Patrese will star as Lauren and Williams will star as Ricardo. This will be her first time acting, she said.

“This is my first time being in a movie and that’s a challenge itself,” she said. “But the recognition you get (is rewarding). People aren’t doing this every day, this is something different. I feel like this movie is a platform for (local) talent.”