TRURO – It’s been a year-and-a-half since Cory Bowles’ ‘Black Cop’ hit the film festival circuit and it’s just finishing its tour throughout the world.
Bowles, a Truro native, stopped by the Marigold Cultural Centre at the end of last month for a screening of the film, followed by a question and answer period. It was the first event of many hosted by Local Love Truro this year.
“We were really fortunate that it’s traveled the world the way it has,” Bowles told the at-capacity crowd prior to the screening. “We didn’t expect it. Obviously when I first made this movie it was in response to a lot of things that were happening. The movie was about perspective.”
Bowles, who many know from his role as Cory in the Trailer Park Boys, said we live in a time where people are constantly engaging others via social media.
“Everyone has a platform and everyone has something to say. A lot of times, voices that need to be heard and names that are forgotten are buried under a lot of vitriol and fighting. But sometimes it’s just a matter of listening. This movie is really just about perspective.”
Ronnie Rowe Jr. fills the role of ‘Black Cop’ – a man torn about his role as a police officer. The 90-minute film highlights the relationship between police and the public, and also focuses on racial profiling, something Rowe Jr. experiences in the film.
“I’ve played with reversal and played with that type of satire, and by no means is that a new convention,” said Bowles. “It’s literally an answer to social media. All of the radio talk in the movie is social media – it’s Twitter.”
Bowles referenced the event of a young boy being shot in the back after allegedly stealing a beer from a store.
“Everyone was like, ‘well he shouldn’t have stole,’” Bowles said, about response on social media when that story broke. “The guy who owned the store got charged with murder, but people are still saying, ‘well the guy shouldn’t have…’ It doesn’t matter what this guy did to justify his death. A lot of people wouldn’t say that. I doubt they would say that if they had to watch someone they related to being hate on.”
Originally, Bowles thought the concept of his movie was funny, and could see it as a musical. He had it all planned out, seeing it before his eyes.
“It was going to be a big, lavish musical that I thought was funny, but then it wasn’t anymore.”
Not long after it was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, Black Cop started catching a buzz on the festival circuit. Bowles said it made its rounds through reviews after premiering in Chicago, and then they moved to a screening at a festival in Miami. From there, it was booked for a screening for police officers in Miami.
“It was a really interesting town hall and discussion,” Bowles said, adding he was sitting in a chair thinking “things are going to go down here.” “People were going off on the cops, then the cops were going at each other, there was a big debate and argument. I was like, ‘this is great. I’m leaving.’ It was really great.”
He said most of the response from law enforcement has been positive, with many sending him personal letters after seeing it.
“It depends,” he said, about the reaction. “A lot of times, too, there’s always the idea that it’s going to be some sort of anti-police movie but it’s not. Sometimes it’s a bit of a surprise…they expected a bad cop movie. Which, I mean, it is…he’s a bad cop. But it’s been very good.”
Bowles admits he has a certain attitude and bias toward law enforcement, however when creating his character, he had to push that aside.
“I owe it to myself when I create a character to challenge that bias and try not to use that bias. I had to really think, ‘what would this person what to say to me and want me to know about them,’” he said, when asked about any research he did on police prior to the movie.
While feature films normally see about 15 to 25 days of shooting, Bowles said he and his crew, which included Aaron Horton as producer, had just 12 days. But, despite the little time frame – and dwindling light during shooting on November days – he was grateful with everyone he worked with.
“Ronnie is so beautiful throughout,” Bowles admitted. “I think his moment of just him in the car alone thinking back…I like that a lot.”
This wasn’t the first time Rowe Jr. has appeared in one of Bowles’ pieces. He has appeared in a few of the Truro native’s short films, after they met while Bowles was at the Canadian Film Centre.
“He’s one of those guys I can call up out of nowhere and have him do the work for me,” he said.
Rowe Jr. was the first one Bowles had in mind for the role, however changed his mind at one point.
“I got sort of seduced by the idea of getting a name actor,” he admitted. “Then it all came back around a month-and-a-half before the movie. I called him, I think I left a message asking him to call me, and he did and said, ‘what do you need?’ I will never do that again. I learned a valuable lesson. That’s the people you needs to trust, the safest people to work with in the world. He’s a bit of a muse for me.”
With Black Cop’s rounds winding down, Bowles is shifting his focus to some new projects. Since Black Cop, he said he’s gotten some offers. Some he’s said yes to, and some of them have since disappeared. He’s said no to some, and some of those are now starting to show their premieres, which he says is weird.
While he’s doing some readings at the moment, he’s still in the works on a show taking place in Weymouth, N.S., and a series he directed called ‘Diggstown’ just premiered, as did ‘Little Dog’, a show Bowles writes for.