Filmmakers Bill Singleton and Trevor Bailey Talk
New Film ‘Fade to Black’ and Ending Violence
By Amber Topping
Bill Singleton and Trevor Bailey brought their unique backgrounds and talents to the forefront when they came together as a duo to co-direct Fade to Black: The Trigger Effect – a film about the effects of violence. Bill began his career in the field of publishing back in 1990 when he founded publications such as Black History Magazine and World History Magazine (interviews and stories including artists like Halle Berry and Janet Jackson). While Trevor worked in the military, as a bus driver and even as a constable before settling in as a writer and filmmaker. Together, they have an important message to spread about putting a stop to violence and treating others how you want to be treated.
Congratulations on your film Fade to Black: The Trigger Effect and winning the Best Director Award at the Pocono Mountains Film Festival! For those who are unfamiliar, what is the film about?
Trevor: The film explores the lives of Jamal, Gage, Pepe and JJ. When Pepe gets a gun from a local gangster, Mr. M, their lives take a dramatic turn. Gage and his friends decide to get wasted before going to a party. On their way, through a local park, they notice Jamal and his family celebrating his brother's birthday.
Bill: Pepe decides to show off his gun and shoot in the air as a prank to scare them, and he inadvertently kills Jamal's mother, father and brother, injuring Jamal and his wife Dana.
Trevor: Gage horrified at the tragedy, begins the journey of self-examination that leads to opposing violence and Jamal, seeking revenge for the murder of his family, begins his journey that leads him to discovering the power of forgiveness.
Can each of you tell me a little bit about your background and how you became interested in film?
Trevor: I always wanted to become an actor and then I discovered my true talent was in writing and I also realized you have a lot more power to just write whenever you’re inspired to, whereas in acting you kind of depend on other people to give you the stage. I started writing screenplays and hanging out on the sets of my filmmaker friends and really became fascinated with the whole process, so I decided I wanted to write and make films.
Bill: Instead of going to film school, I got a camera and started doing it hands on. My filmmaking aspirations basically go back to when I was a kid with a super 8 camera. I would line¬up all my little army men in battle positions and then just rolled film. As I grew up, I got more involved in the publishing world and in 1990, I founded Black History Magazine and World History Magazine, which really took off and allowed me to expand the company into other areas of publishing and eventually into digital production and distribution. That’s essentially where our two roads met up. Trevor came to me with the first thirty pages of this script he was working on and I immediately wanted on board. My only stipulation was that he had to direct it.
What was the inspiration behind making the film? Is it at all based on a true story?
Trevor: It actually stems from a true story. I had read a news article about a woman, Lisa Costa who had just been enjoying a day in the park with her grandson when a guy came along and shot her simply because his friends dared him to. George Powers and his two friends had broken into a house and stole the gun earlier that day, then got drunk and went off to the park loaded, and with a loaded gun. He basically said, "Now I'm gonna shoot someone,” and his friends urged him on, daring him to do it. So he shot and killed Lisa Costa, just because she was the first person he saw.
Bill: I was fascinated that something like this could actually happen, and I wanted to know why. What is it about the human condition that causes people to be so ruthlessly violent and more importantly, how do we stop it? Fade to Black explores the human psychology of violence by following the lives of four young men whose paths all meet on their mutual territory of making destructive life decisions and terrorizing others, instead of finding more positive outlets for their energies.
Can you talk a little bit about your process getting the film made? Did you face any challenges along the way?
Bill: Where do we start? How about the very first day of shooting when the lighting guy didn’t show up. We called him the “Yeah, Yeah man.” Everything was “yeah, yeah sure man,” yet nothing he said ever panned out. Then there was the sound guy who also never showed up, we nicknamed him “the sounds of silence.”
Trevor: Yeah that first day we basically had to educate ourselves with a crash course in ‘how to use available lighting’ since we had no lights to work with. We obviously replaced the lighting and sound guys and everything was going great until the fire.
Bill: The fire was definitely the biggest scare. A group of us had decided to take a break from editing and we went to eat at a soul food place around the corner. When we got back, fire trucks were all out front and smoke was coming from my apartment. The camera, the computer and all of our footage were all inside and I was sure we had just lost the entire film. When we were allowed back inside, all we could see was smoke filling the entire apartment and the firemen had smashed the wall, the TV and stomped through everything to ensure that the fire was entirely out. It must have been fate, because the camera, the computer and the footage were pretty much the only things that weren’t damaged. We still had our film.
What message do you each hope to leave with the audience after seeing the movie?
Trevor: There are a lot of different things that different individuals can take from this story, but I think overall the main message is to treat others how you want to be treated. Simple but powerful, it goes a long way in dealing successfully with others.
Bill: I hope the film inspires people to make better choices overall, choices that affect your own life and choices that affect others. I think a lot of the time people make bad choices simply because it takes less energy than making good choices and the characters in this film definitely portray that. Hopefully, we’re also able to show people that the good choices are what ultimately lead us to better things.
What do you personally believe is the best way to end all the violence? How can we each individually spread that message of peace?
Trevor and Bill: First, you have to do the hard work of thinking about how you want to be treated in a situation before you just act out of emotion, fear, self-interest or thoughtlessness. Then you have to actively choose to do what you would want done to you. Finally, do your best to listen to others, acknowledge their reality, include them when you can, challenge them to be their best when they don't and forgive them when they fail to do their best. Create, invent or build a way to achieve a solution that stops violence and starts a just peace based on love.
How can people best see Fade to Black: The Trigger Effect? Do you have plans for further distribution of the film?
Trevor: We are currently reviewing our various options for getting the film out to the public.
Bill: We are in discussions with various distributors and are reviewing our options at this time. We are looking at all the various platforms that can make the film a profitable venture.
Do you have any other upcoming projects?
Bill: Right now we’re working on a web series that showcases different types of artists and the reality of their different journeys in life and in their art.
Trevor: We definitely plan on making more feature films as well. Our goal isn’t so much focused on ourselves as filmmakers, but in making films that resonate with people and impact their lives in some way. That is the power of filmmaking.
Bill: Making a film is hard, but that is half the battle. Getting to the public, building your core audience and making it commercially successful is the other half of this business. We are on a journey to do just that. We ask for the public's help at achieving this goal for the film. You and your audience can do that by contacting us at www.fadethemovie.com or www.facebook/fadethemovie. We encourage you to do so and thank you in advance for your support.