Marvin Winans Jr. as Donte Dreams. (Luke Hartley)
It's difficult to keep a dream alive while surrounded by the harsh realities of life. Still, there are those who rather than being defeated by hardships, find strength.
This is the message of "Dreams," a movie directed by Joel Kapity and produced by native Detroiter Marvin Winans Jr. Set outside of Chicago, the yet-unrated film tackles tough issues -- rape, incest and broken families who are working to reunite and repair their damaged lives.
"Sometimes those darkest secrets need someone who is brave enough to tell it in a creative form, where it can actually free people to speak about it openly," Winans says.
If you recognize his name, that might be because he is one of many gospel singers born into the renowned Winans family. His father is singer and pastor Marvin Winans Sr. of Perfecting Church in Detroit. His mother is gospel great Vickie Winans, and his brother Mario sings and produces as well.
"Dreams" will premiere Thursday night at the AMC Star Southfield 20. The cast is impressive and includes stage and screen actor Tommy Ford, R&B singer Angie Stone and "American Idol" alum Syesha Mercado. Vickie Winans plays Veronica, mother to Mercado's character Mia, and Winans Jr. plays a notorious criminal in the film.
While the plot is far from lightweight, Winans Jr. says great care was given to create a movie all audiences can enjoy. While some films may be effective, he says, there is often a lot of vulgarity that audiences have to wade through before the story's meaning comes across.
"We were able to put together a movie with a strong message, but did it in a quality form. It's not cheesy or corny," he says. "It has and delivers a strong message."
In addition to producing, Winans also composed the score. The singer/songwriter signed with Epic Records when he was just 18, but says movies have always been his passion. He calls director Steven Spielberg an inspiration.
If done right, he says, movies can have a strong effect on people.
"I saw the power of movies," he says. "I remember going to see the movie 'Se7en,' and after that movie was over, people were literally just sitting in the theater.
"I always wanted to inspire and affect people in a positive way."
Winans says he's always wanted to produce films and knew after creating his own music video, "You Never Let Me Down," with director Kapity, that the two would work together again. And then one day Kapity called about "Dreams."
But while the music business is tough, Winans says the film industry isn't anything to sneeze at.
"All respect to all recoding artists and labels, but film is at least five times more difficult. It takes so much more," he says. "When we got on set, I was ready to quit around day two. I have done music videos before, but it was like we were shooting a music video every day for 24 days straight. It was a marathon. It opened my eyes. It is a humbling process and makes you work as a team."
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SOURCE: The Detroit News