Addison Henderson is becoming one Buffalo’s most talked about emerging talents from the east side community, For him the sky has no limit, nor does the potluck of locations the city has to offer, as he prepares to begin shooting his latest film,G.O.D. across Buffalo and WNY in May.
The Son of former politician, now writer and motivational speaker Dianna Henderson and Bishop William Henderson, a well known historian and former longtime pastor of the Historical Michigan Street Baptist Church, Addison never fails to find room for his community in the scheme of everything he does. It comes as no surprise that he plans to use Buffalo as a long term hub for his projects because he’s got a lot of Buffalo stories to tell. For the film G.O.D. ,Addison has cast over 25 local actors with 8 principal roles held by African Americans.
From his early days as a Co-director of “Forgotten City” and directing “The Experience,” a film he shot in Ghana, West Africa, to a host of web series, short films, commercial specs, documentaries and working closely with Chadwick Boseman on a number of projects, Addison Henderson only knows one way, that being… UP!
Both his formal training as an actor and director as well as his life experiences from the streets of Buffalo, to Newark New Jersey, and now L.A. (where he currently resides) shows up in everything he creates.
In a recent Q & A Addison gives us a little history and the scoop on his new film G.O.D.
Q. Before we get into the film, how did a football athlete from childhood to college football scholarship ditch the field plays and become interested in making films?
A. I have to say the beginning interest in film started with my father. He was a world traveler and would shoot everything on his super 16 camera. On Saturdays he would take me over to the church, pull down the screen put up the projector and tell me all these fascinating and amazing spiritual journeyman stories. Then there was my uncle Jeff who started the American Black Film Festival. I stayed with him during summers and after football training he would take me with him to business meetings… so I had a lot of inspiration and exposure from two very successful strong men growing up.
Q. Did you have a favorite film or recall one that sticks in memory?
A. I watched movies on VHS tape over and over and my aunt Liz use to take me to the movies on weekends. The first movie I ever saw at a theatre was Lean on Me and the first movie I ever saw on VHS was The Crying Game… I was just a kid and it was the first time I ever saw Forest Whitaker. His acting ability in that role and the whole story line was amazing and that was sort of my introduction in hearing great stories form a “cinematic standpoint.”
Q. What was the turning point for you that pushed you closer to making a move toward your dream of filmmaking?
A. When I came home from playing football at Alfred State, I lost my best friend to gun violence and after that I packed up my car with about $150 in my pocket and drove to stay with my mom’s family in Newark, New Jersey. I enrolled in a 2-year program at HB Studios and everyday would take the train into the city and study acting and directing… It was there during one of the segments that I had to both act and direct myself in a play. That was my Segway into directing and its stuck ever since.
Q. The Name of your film is G.O.D. what’s acronym stand for?
A. Givers of Death it’s like an apocalyptic Noir film… but there’s a spiritual sense to it.
Q. What’s the film about?
A. It’s the story of a hit-man ( that I play) trying to find peace during the Apocalypse. A a disease has killed half the population over a 3 year period… including his own family.. he’s almost like a “Kevorkian” hitman .. but you’ll also be witnessing the last few days of his life that he doesn’t know is coming.
Q. Where did the idea come from?
A. Sometimes I get ideas from visions and dreams and write them down. When I started writing this film everything that I had previously written fit together perfectly for this project.
Q. Did you have to do research for this film?
A. I’ve talked to a lot of people from all walks of life, I can’t say I know any hitmen, but I’ve heard lots of grim stories.
Q. With your busy schedule how did you have time to write the film?
A. I was working on a film 21 Bridges with Chadwick Boseman at the time so I wrote most of it while on the movie on set
Q. Why did you bring the production for the film to Buffalo?
A. Although the film is apocalyptic, there is a beauty in the architecture here that I don’t see captured in other films the way my mind sees it… I want to shoot movies in Buffalo like Spike Lee shoots in Brooklyn .. I love my city, I know this place… I want the community to know I’m here, doing business here, casting here and using local talent . Even people who are living in L.A. that are from Buffalo will also be part of this project.
Q. How Big is the Cast and how long are you planning to shoot?
A. It’s an epic indie with roughly 19 or more talking parts. We’ll be Shooting over a 4 week period in the month of May.
Q. When will Buffalo Get to see the film?
A. We premier the film at Sundance and plan to do something really big here in Buffalo afterwards.
Q. Where did you get the money to produce the film?
A. I have support and people that believe in me and fundraised through contacts that I have. Some in Hollywood and some support from people right here in Buffalo.
Q. What do you want people to walk away with after seeing the film?
A. For me more than like winning an award or being lauded by the masses I want people to talk, I want people to challenge themselves. Talk about life, question God, make their own assumptions about why things are the way they are.
Q. What’s up next?
A. I have two new stories that I’m already working on and many more Buffalo Stories to tell!
(You can follow Addison this film project and more on FB at Night Owl Republic Films)