Max D. Townsend is a young man with a big vision. On the heels of his self-produced music video “Love Right”, Townsend’s newly released short film “New Resolution” once again puts his larger-than-life vision on display for all to see.
Known for producing videos of song covers and for his recent work on stage in La’Charles Purvey’s Beyond the Stratosphere and Poteet Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls, Townsend ventured into new territory last fall with Love Right. The single featured his own vocals along with those of Thonie Lee, as the two demonstrated spectacular musical gifting as well as impressive acting chops. The pair’s collaboration continues in New Resolution, with Lee again taking on a central role while Townsend settles into the helm of things exclusively behind the camera. New Resolution, however, is not a music video; it is a bonafide short film, showing Townsend’s ability to tell a solid story without a song to guide viewers along. He rises to the occasion and delivers the goods.
Townsend, an enterprising filmmaker, masterfully directs this short which deals with relationships, baby mama drama, alcoholism, parenthood, loyalty, forgiveness and personal growth. That’s a lot to deal with in eleven minutes, but Max and his cast make it happen like true champs.
Thonie Lee plays Anthony, a young father caught in the middle of the feud between his ex and his current love. Wanting the best for his daughter, Anthony walks a fine line to attempt to keep the peace. His patience is finally pushed to the limit though when he is faced with betrayal and reacts in a surprising manner. Kudos to Lee for a fine job of making us feel Anthony’s pain and frustration.
Hayli Stripling is Nesha, Anthony’s current significant other. She is troubled by Anthony’s communication with his ex, Leah, even though it is required based on the fact that they have a daughter together. Nesha has her own troubles, but is blinded to her own character flaws by her resentment of Leah. Stripling’s energy is amazing and her attitude is convincing. She seems sarcastic and cruel, but we understand her demeanor given her precarious position. Leah also provides much needed comic relief, especially when giving Anthony his, um, unforgettable Christmas gift, price tag included.
Kharissa Edmond, who also co-wrote the story along with Townsend, plays Leah, a single mother battling alcoholism. Though struggling with her personal demons that render her dysfunctional as a parent, she clearly conveys a mother’s love. She also proves to be a formidable foe for Nesha, dishing it out as well as she can take it. Edmond’s portrayal of Leah convincingly shows that things are rarely just black and white.
Darrius Reid is Darrell, a true friend who has Anthony’s back and makes it very clear that his loyalty is uncompromising. Darrell in many ways is the glue of the story, and delivers perhaps the biggest lesson when he tells Anthony “I’d like to believe the biggest room we have within is the room we have to grow.” Darrius is a natural, seemingly content to play a supporting role as he did in Love Right, but this time having a more central focus and expertly handling the task.
Michael Castellanos is Xavier, a snake-in-the-grass “friend” who swoops in on the
opportunity to disrupt Anthony’s and Nesha’s relationship for his own personal gain. In the end, Xavier pays a dear price for his disloyalty. Castellanos pulls the task off well and takes his medicine to the head – literally – like a true “G.” We love every bit of his demise.
Stealing the show, though, is little Nya Nicole Townsend, who plays Olivia, the young daughter of Anthony and Leah. Nya, the real-life daughter of producer and director Max D.Townsend, is not only adorable but shows definite theatrical skills. At one moment, her innocent implied disapproval or her mother’s drinking has a sobering and pivotal effect on Leah’s decision making. Olivia wraps us around her finger, just like she clearly does her Daddy in real life. Something tells us that this little star will have a very bright future.
New Resolution leaves viewers wanting more and perhaps expecting a different – dare I say – resolution, in the end. Viewers are left with perhaps as many questions as answers, but the effect is clearly by design. The brief cinematic venture seems to convey that there are rarely any picture perfect outcomes in life, but we must strive to make the best of the cards we are dealt.
The production quality of the short film is excellent. The cast chemistry is remarkable and the performances are believable. Kudos to Max D. Townsend on a great production. One gets the feeling Townsend will be telling his stories for a long time to come. If “New Resolution” is any indication, 2014 is going to be a great year for this young talent on the rise.
Check out New Resolution for yourself.
Visit http://www.MaxDTownsend.com for more from Max D. Townsend, including his music video, Love Right.
Brian C. Scott