Angels of Uptown
The superhero/vigilante trope is nothing new but with everything currently going on in our world, we could use more relatable heroes to emulate. Our show tackles themes such as race and gender relations, police brutality, and poverty which are stories that we need now more than ever.
Mission StatementWe believe that art is supposed to reflect the world that we live in; yet the perspectives and experiences of people of color are commonly silenced. As creators of color, we aim to make a difference in who gets to tell what stories in the film and TV industry.
About The Project
After their routine workout, a personal trainer and his client find themselves fighting for their lives after intervening in an attempted sexual assault. Following this unforgettable night, the duo enlists the help of another friend to begin their crusade as protectors of their community. These uptown vigilantes don’t have a bottomless bank account to fund their operation-nor do they have mysterious gurus to teach them the secrets of martial arts. But they fight for what they believe in because that's what you're supposed to do-even if it comes at a price…
Why this project? And why now of all times?
It goes without saying that 2020 was a dark time for people all around the globe, including our writer, Hassiem Muhammad. Not only did he find himself grappling with a loss of work due to the pandemic, but he felt helpless as he watched the faces of Ahmaud Abery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor litter the news cycle. Unemployed and desperate for social change, Hassiem turned to creating art to lift his spirits. He asked himself the following:
What if Black Americans, women, and other marginalized communities had someone there to protect them?
What if that someone looked just like the people they were trying to protect?
What if I could tell this story?
It was from these musings that the script for Angels of Uptown was born; because in the current climate of our nation, we need this story. We deserve to have hope that there are good people out there willing to make a difference-and they don't need a radioactive spider bite to do it.
Why we want YOU to be a part of our community!
When Winston Churchill was asked to cut funding to the arts in World War II, he responded with “Then what would we be fighting for?”
The arts have and always will matter. When you join the AOU community, you will be supporting a team of artists who have refused to cripple under the pressure of a year that brought so much loss to our industry. And not only will you be supporting artists, but you will help to bring stories that matter into the light. From police brutality, to poverty, to gender relations, this show will tackle these issues in a way that we haven't seen before. We didn't want to make another Marvel movie; we want to show that real people can be heroes in their own right, and we know that there is a hero in each and every one of our supporters.
Creating During Covid
The picture above was our reality in the summer of 2020. We rehearsed totally over Zoom, and our cinematographer wasn't able to join us on all of our location scouts due to travel restrictions. When our cinematographer did make it to New York, he had to quarantine for two weeks (without work) in order to be cleared for set. Although our project is non-union at the moment, we did our best to follow the SAG-AFTRA Covid protocols as well as CDC guidelines such as: having all participants fill out a Covid questionnaire (this was before rapid testing was available), limiting our set to 10 individuals, social distancing, and having a PPE station.
All of this to say...the pandemic presented challenges none of us had faced before, and there were inherent risks involved in the filming process. We did it (as safely as possible) because if there's one thing the pandemic has taught us, it's that tomorrow isn't promised. We believe that our project can make a difference, and there really is no time like the present.
Where we're headed!
Due to the incredibly generous support of some private donors, (and a very tight budget), we were able to shoot the first two episodes of Angels of Uptown in September of 2020. We are currently in the post-production phase for those episodes, and hope to release the pilot to the public soon-but there are still four more episodes to go!
Once we reach our crowdfunding goal here, we will be able to shoot the final four episodes of our fist season. Our current timeline for the beginning of this phase of filming is late spring/eary summer 2021.
Our hope is to have all episodes available to stream online for free!
If we exceed our crowdfunding goals here, we will use the extra contributions to submit to film festivals, improve upon the equipment that we use on set, hire additional crew members to lighten the workload, and increase the fees we pay to our collaborators.
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Angels of Uptown is a project that aims to break barriers not just on screen-but off; and our Creative Team was chosen with this in mind. We assembled a team that is diverse in color, country of origin, religion, and gender. This is incredibly important as the show's story takes place in one of the most diverse areas of New York City's main island.
Hassiem Muhammad is a New York City based actor, writer, and multidisciplinary movement artist. Originally from Cayce, South Carolina, Muhammad has been telling stories for as long as he can remember, and loves devising work centered around the Black experience in America. He holds a BFA in acting from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), and was a 2018 Lincoln Center Education Kenan Fellow. Some of his most recent work includes, the Pioneer Theatre Company’s production of SWEAT, and CBS’s Madam Secretary. Muhammad is a member of Actor’s Equity Association (AEA), and the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD). He is represented by Harden Curtis Kirsten Riley (HCKR) Agency, and A3 Artists Agency.
Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., Ebony Cawthorne has always had a love and a passion for storytelling and films. She has written, directed and produced several short films. After graduating from UNCSA, Ebony moved back to New York to work in the film and television industry. She landed a job on a new CBS television show while also working on her own projects that continue to challenge her and bring her joy. Always enthusiastic about working with the youth, Ebony began working for an arts nonprofit in the Lower East Side of Manhattan called “Dorill Initiative”, established by a UNCSA alumni. Dorill is a multidisciplinary arts organization committed to empowering youth to tell their stories and transform communities, and Ebony is proud to work for an organization that puts youth of color first.
Ernesto Matos-Director of Photography/Editor
Ernesto was born in Dominican Republic, and has always felt a need for adventure; a feeling of wanting to better himself every day and follow his passion of being a filmmaker. He would later move to New York City where he would pursue his career. Ernesto has had the opportunity to collaborate with filmmakers like Guy Guido, Veronica Caicedo and Joey Dedio. In addition to working freelance on short films, documentaries and music videos. He also was a part of the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival and The One Festival, where he was part of the crew, and was often stage manager for parts of the event. Ernesto has dedicated his craft to being a director and, in recent years, has also been heavily involved in post production processes. His plan is to return to New York this year to continue his Film career at full capacity.
Julia Crytser-1st Assistant Director
Julia Crytser is an actor and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. She attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for Acting (2018). Since graduating, she has been working in the film industry and pursuing stories that bring people together. Past projects include the production of the play RAD, a female driven narrative in conjunction with the Attic Theater Company and camera work on everything from independent features to union TV shows. In her off time she enjoys hiking extremely long distances and cycling around the world.