'12 O'Clock Boys' director Lotfy Nathan with movie characters Pug and Coco

Interview: Director Lotfy Nathan Describes Eye-Opening Process Behind Filming ’12 O’Clock Boys’

Dirt bike culture stems beyond Meek Mill's flashy, revving visuals on Instagram. For the new film 12 O'Clock Boys, director Lotfy Nathan taps into the Westside of Baltimore, Md. to trail a group of bike riders known for lifting their heavy two-wheelers vertically while stunting on the streets with an arsenal of bold and brave stunts. Nathan said he first caught sight of the biker gang during his time at the Maryland Institute College of Art and decided to highlight the speedsters for a project in his documentary course.

In the full-length reel, Nathan, a then painting major, focuses on 13-year-old Pug, an ambitious teen who sets his sights on riding with the pack, and his story of becoming a rough rider. Here, the Bostonian filmmaker parks it for a quick chat on filming 12 O'Clock Boys and what lies ahead.—Camille Augustin

VIBE: What was the plan of execution, the steps towards creating the film?
Lotfy Nathan: It was pretty run-and-gun. It started off as a school project, so it was really learning how to create the film as I was going. More and more talented people came on board and that was a tremendous thing, but it was a very organic process. I didn’t know how long the production would take, I didn’t know how much it would cost, I didn’t know what the story would be. I just had a few interests at first that spurred the desire to make it.

Were there any difficult instances that occurred during the process?
Nathan: There were a great deal of difficult things. There’s tragedy in the film that you see that was obviously difficult to navigate, also just the sustained effort of filming is not easy. There were a lot of challenges in making it, but it made for a better movie for all of that.

There’ve been comparisons to HBO’s The Wire. Did you reference anything in that series for the movie such as location?
Nathan: Not in terms of scenes, I definitely saw The Wire a couple of years into filming and surely it informs things because the scope of it was beautifully done. The way that The Wire functions for me in making the film was just to know that audiences were equipped with a knowledge of Baltimore. It kind of provided a global audience with a context for Baltimore. Less had to be said because people already had the backdrop.

How were you first introduced to Pug?
Nathan: I met this guy, Larry Jackson, while I was filming on the Westside when I first started and we kept in touch. He showed me around some places because I was trying to film whatever I could relating to the bikes. He brought me over to this neighborhood in the Westside where another guy, Shank, said we had to go check out this kid who was all about bikes and like a small kind of go-getter. That’s how I met Pug. I was introduced to him early April 2010, and from there I immediately had a connection with them and felt that his family was very colorful and opened arms, and they had so much to say.

You followed Pug for three years. How do you describe his love for the “12 O’Clock Boys?”
Nathan: I think he always needed something. He needed something to subscribe to like a lot of kids do, but he’s also rebellious. I think inherently it had to have some sense of thrill and rebellion to it. I think it was his ideal, but at the same time I saw firsthand that he was liable to be tempted by things I would say are worst; selling crack, or getting into a gang, or becoming the type that would hurt somebody. It’s not that I think the bikes are an answer per-say, but it’s definitely a way out of something.

What was it like working with Pug and his family?
Nathan: It was a lot of things. It was hard sometimes and it was fun sometimes. You see in the movie that he’s got such a range. It was pretty amazing. They taught me so much, I learned so much from that family and we all became close.

Did you ever read or talk about filming 12 O’Clock Boys beforehand?
Nathan: It wasn’t really being talked about much, but my first experience was just seeing them around, and looking back that’s pretty valuable. There hadn’t been any kind of article that I had seen I didn’t even know that they had a YouTube presence at the time. I was lucky I guess to want to start investigating that, but no there wasn’t like a suggestion of a story that I was following. The lead was pretty simple and that was seeing them a few times over a few years.

Was there any thought about bringing Meek Mill, a rapper with a huge love for dirt bikes, into the fold, or a possible sequel on Philly dirt bike culture?
Nathan: Meek has seen the movie and I think he liked it. A lot of the writers are obviously connected with him and I think he’s got a whole lot of love for the whole Baltimore situation. We’ve met a few times. I don’t know about a sequel, but I think he likes Pug in the movie.

Was there an instance you felt hesitant to film or thought you may have overstepped boundaries?
There were a lot of times like that. It’s delicate to be in somebody’s life and people want to share, but you maybe don’t feel right sharing certain things. It was important to have a relationship with the material where you’re being sensitive, but also kind of not apologetic at the same time. You want to show what you experience. Each shot, each thing that we were including we thought about it.

What do you hope watchers will gain from this movie?
I think people should walk away with an understanding, or at least an empathy towards a kid like Pug who you see very vulnerable at the beginning and then he‘s developing this harder shell. You kind of get a sense of why something like this exists. It’s a play on delicacy of people’s lives as they know it. It’s dangerous so that’s why they do it. It’s important for audiences to see that.

12 O’Clock Boys sped into theaters Jan. 31 and is available on Vimeo on Demand.

Photo Credit: Brett Davis

From the Web

More on Vibe

JC Olivera/Getty Images

‘Candyman’ Reboot Pushed Back To Next Summer

The long-awaited reboot of the ‘90s horror flick, Candyman, has been pushed back yet again. The film, written by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, is now expected to arrive on August 27, 2021.

Like many productions delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Candyman remake has been postponed more than once. In September, Universal Pictures removed the film from its calendar. Da Costa later explained that the film was made to view in theaters.

“We wanted the horror and humanity of Candyman to be experience in a collective, a community, so we’re pushing Candyman to next year, to ensure that everyone cans the film in theaters, and share in the experience,” DaCosta tweeted at the time. Her Twitter account has since been deleted.

Described as a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 original, the reboot stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the supernatural monster lurking within the character Anthony McCoy. The film’s premise finds McCoy (Abdul-Mateen) returning to the now gentrified Chicago area where the legend of Candyman first began.

“I’m really honored to be stepping into those shoes,” Abdul-Mateen said in an interview with Collider.com. “They’re big shoes to fill because, obviously, that’s an iconic character and a story that people relate to. Even people who have not seen it, have ideas about it, or they’ve still been able to interact with it, and that iconography has penetrated their lives. So, it’s an honor to be able to step into that, and to re-tell that story, and to introduce the mythology of Candyman back into the world, in 2020, and to put our own social lens and our own spin on it. I think that’s gonna be a lot of fun, to put that iconography back into the conversation.”

Continue Reading
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Daniel Kaluuya Explains Why His Upcoming Live-Action ‘Barney’ Movie Is “Really Needed”

Daniel Kaluuya shared an interesting take on Barney, and the motivation behind his up-coming live-action adaptation of the children’s series. The 31-year-old British actor is producing what will be a sobering interpretation of the lovable purple T-Rex, one that Kaluuya says is “really needed” at the moment.

“Barney taught us, ‘I love you, you love me. Won’t you say you love me too?’ That’s one of the first songs I remember, and what happens when that isn’t true? I thought that was really heartbreaking,” Kaluuya told Entertainment Weekly  in an interview promoting his upcoming film Judas and the Black Messiah. “I have no idea why but it feels like that makes sense. It feels like there’s something unexpected that can be poignant but optimistic. Especially at this time now, I think that’s really, really needed.’’

Mattel Films is co-producing the live-action Barney film alongside Kaluuya’s production company, 59%, and Valparaiso Pictures.

Barney & Friends originally aired on PBS from 1992-2009. The purple dinosaur and his sidekick,  B.J. and Baby Bop, taught legions of young viewers educational messages through songs and dance.

Aside from Barney, Kaluuya opened up to EW about portraying Black Pantry Party member Fred Hampton in Judas and The Black Messiah, co-starring Lakeith Stanfield.

“One of my aspirations was to show how brilliant these people were in every way, and what they were really doing, to show the full picture, away from the narrow narrative that has been portrayed. Show what they were really doing in this time, and how revolutionary their ideas were. It didn't necessarily mean destruction. They were actually about healing and loving and taking care of your community. These activities do not feel like they're associated with the Black Panther party but that's the foundation of it, which is why it spread.”

Continue Reading
Netflix/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Ludacris Announces Netflix Animated Series ‘Karma’s World’ Inspired By His Oldest Daughter

Ludacris has an animated series in the works. Karma’s World, which is inspired by his oldest daughter, Karma Bridges, is in development at Netflix, the rapper announced on Tuesday (Oct. 13).

“I’ve had a lot of accomplishments in my life, but everything that I’ve experienced seems to have led up to this point to where I can leave a legacy for all my daughters,” Luda said in a statement. “Karma’s World is one of those legacies. I hope this series will show kids that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations.

“This show is going to move hip hop culture forward, and show young girls that they have the power to change the world,” he added. “This project has been a long time in the making and I can’t wait to bring Karma’s World to the entire world.”

The series follows 10-year-old Karma Grant, a smart, resilient, and “deeply empathetic” aspiring singer and rapper with “big talent and an even bigger heart.” Karma pours out her deepest feelings and channel her emotions into the music that she hopes will one day change the world. The animated show chronicles how Karma begins to recognize the true power of music, and will tackle issues such as self-esteem, body positivity, friendship, family, and celebrating differences.

Karma’s World has been a decade in the making, Luda revealed in an  Instagram post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

10 years in the making. THIS IS HOW LEGACIES ARE BUILT! • I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining the @netflixfamily, and bringing my new animated series #KarmasWorld which is inspired by my oldest daughter in partnership with @9storymediagroup and @BrownBagFilms to @netflix for the world to see! • It was important to me to provide a positive @StrongBlackLead to show our youth that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations, and that their dreams no matter how big are possible! I’m looking forward to finally being able to share what I’ve been working on behind the scenes for so many years! Welcome to Karma’s World! Click the link in bio RIGHT NOW!!! • #Ludacris #Netflix #AnimatedSeries

A post shared by @ ludacris on Oct 13, 2020 at 11:03am PDT

Besides creating the series, Luda is also executive producing alongside Vince Commisso, Cathal Gaffney, Darragh O’Connell, Angela C. Santomero, Wendy Harris and Jennie Stacey from 9 Story Media Group.

Karma’s World is a partnership between 9 Story Media and Luda’s production company Karma’s World Entertainment.

Continue Reading

Top Stories