Diversity: The Driving Force Behind the Making of New Teen Flick "At the Top of the Pyramid"

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Slamgate Productions and Mozell Entertainment Group Team up to Bring Slice of Teen Life to the Big Screen. New Indie "At the Top of the Pyramid" in Theatres, Beginning March 4, 2015

At the Top of the Pyramid artwork

In the new indie, "At the Top the Pyramid," a diverse cast brings a slice of teen life to the big screen.

Slamgate Productions in conjunction with the Mozell Entertainment Group is happy to announce the limited theatrical release of the new teen flick “At the Top of the Pyramid.” The film will open in theatres, beginning March 4, 2015 in New York, Los Angeles and Cincinnati, Ohio before heading to On Demand, Pay-Per-View, cable television, and other digital platforms. It’s “Bring It On” meets “Friday Night Lights” in this teen flick, helmed by the Emmy-nominated director Lawrence Jordan.

Led by award-winning actors Steve Guttenberg (the “Police Academy” franchise, “Three Men and a Baby,” and “Cocoon”) and Dean Cain (“Hit the Floor,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”), the producers purposely used color blind casting in creating a diverse ensemble of fresh faces for the indie “At the Top of the Pyramid.” Before the Hollywood Reporter declared: “This could be the year that diversity becomes more than just a buzzword,” the producers were ahead of the curve, introducing young actors Isaac J. Sullivan, Elle McLemore, Michael W. Peterson, Jessica Luza, Miguel Jarquin-Moreland, Najla Bashira, Patrick James Lynch, and Leigh Ann Smith.

To view the trailer of "At the Top of the Pyramid" on YouTube, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY7oXWDQK0g&feature=youtu.be

Written by Peabody Award winner Richard Willis Jr., “At the Top of the Pyramid” is a look at courage and friendship, set in the world of passionate young adults. An upbeat, action-packed, music-infused dramedy about a close-knit group of friends, struggling to find the courage to follow their own hearts. Will this end-of-the-summer adventure bring them together or break them apart?

The Making of "At the Top of the Pyramid"
The making of this indie is particularly noteworthy because two production companies – that is, Slamgate, based on the East Coast (led by executive producer Mark A. Peterson, who is White) and Mozell Entertainment Group, based on the West Coast, (led by executive producer Richard Willis Jr., who is African American) – had a vision to join forces and purposely, through their work, contribute to the national conversation about race. Realizing the lack of diversity in Hollywood, the two producers set out to make a movie that not only subtly celebrated the differences of the cast and crew, but also produce a movie that’s reflective of high schools across America.

Led by the producers, a multi-racial, multi-cultural crew went to work, in the sweltering summer heat of northern Virginia, and brought to the screen the story of a group of friends who share vastly different, but ironically similar challenges. In watching “At the Top of the Pyramid,” viewers will experience each character’s desire to carve out his or her place, in the complex tapestry known as the American dream. From pre- to post-production, and throughout the making of the movie and its soundtrack, Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and Asians worked together on what quickly became a project of passion and love. “This should be the norm,” says Peterson.

Interestingly on set, director Jordan and writer Willis Jr., could be heard discussing everything from Shakespeare to Tupac. Much of the cast and crew found set life an inspiration. During filming, the cast and crew reflected on the melting pot of America as they celebrated the Fourth of July holiday at the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital. Karen T. Bolt and Josh Muscatine, served as producer and associate producer/editor respectively. Even as the film heads into theatres, it is represented by a diverse team of industry professionals, including Mike Regen of Regenerate Entertainment, who is consulting on the distribution strategy, and Hollywood publicist Wyllisa R. Bennett of wrb public relations, whose agency specializes in niche public relations campaigns.

At the heart of “At the Top of the Pyramid,” a layered, exciting, and entertaining story, is a love triangle between Jamie Parker (played by Elle McLemore) and two best friends, both vying for her affection. Who will she choose? Will it be Marcuss Brown (played by Issac J. Sullivan), the glamorous, African-American quarterback or CW, (played by Michael W. Peterson), the White, all-American introspective artist, poet, and sensitive thinker? “Race is not even a consideration in her choice, as today, young people consider the content of the person’s character the most important element. Truly, the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is realized,” says Willis Jr.

About the Music of "At the Top of the Pyramid"
The music also serves as a dynamic supporting cast member through the super melodic soundtrack; conceived, written and performed by Brooklyn-born hip hop artist REYN. The soundtrack features a collection of singers, artists and musicians from across the cultural spectrum. They perform inspirational ballads, upbeat pop tunes, R & B and folk-influenced hip hop. Led by REYN, the songs take us on a fantastic musical voyage, cultivating the landscape where the saga ripens to harvest. The pre-released single “Supastar” features a reinterpretation of the ‘70s hit record “Tin Man” by the celebrated rock band “America.”

To view the music video. “Supastar” from the "At the Top of the Pyramid" soundtrack, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ4nKYmJ3fk&feature=youtu.be

To hear the single, “Spizzo” and “Supastar,” plus other music by REYN, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/reyn

“At the Top of the Pyramid” made its world premiere at the 2014 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. It was nominated for best screenplay, as well as best supporting acting nominations for Sullivan and Jessica Luza.

"On top of just wanting to reflect how the world looks, diversity is good business. And I think that's finally started to sink in during the last two years," says NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke to The Hollywood Reporter.

Peterson and Willis Jr. share similar views as Salke on diversity in Hollywood. In fact, they take it a step further, both believing that there is a way to solve the long existing problem: “Don’t just do it with tokenism,” say Peterson and Willis Jr., “but create opportunity for everyone – that is, in front of and behind the cameras.” Of course, actions speak louder than words, and the two producers showed their commitment to diversity in their new film, “At the Top of the Pyramid.”

Check out the movie and its diverse cast and crew on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1705100/ 

Coming Soon: NY| LA | Cincinnati, OH
NY: March 4-10, 2015 – Anthology Film Archives
LA: March 7-8, 2015 – Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15
Cincy: March 15-16, 2015 – Cinemark Oakley Station

"At the Top of the Pyramid" | 88 minutes | Movie Synopsis
“At the Top of the Pyramid” delves deeply into the dreams, nightmares, fears and insecurities that haunt teenagers, and ultimately illustrates the resiliency of the human spirit. Jamie Parker (Elle McLemore) is a spitfire of a girl. She has spirit, spunk and killer athletic skills that take her to the top. Unfortunately, she suffers a devastating fall at a cheerleading championship competition, which causes her much embarrassment and loss of confidence in the sport. Suffering a bruised ego from the humiliation of the accident, the family decides to relocate, and Jamie hopes this is the beginning of a fresh start. However, her father’s death forces a return to her old high school, and there we meet her group of friends, frenemies and suitors.

Jamie and her crew – that is, Marcuss (Isaac J. Sullivan), Diana (Jessica Luza), and CW (Michael W. Peterson) -- take us on an adventure where new alliances are formed; relationships are ignited; and loyalties are tested. Jamie struggles with the true meaning of courage, trust and friendship, and eventually works her way back to the top of the pyramid. After all, #winning is the endgame.

“At the Top of the Pyramid” is filled with music and sports, dance and romance, friendships and family, all set within the world of teenage angst and pathos. #diversitywins

About Executive Producer Mark A. Peterson | Slamgate Productions
Peterson grew up in the television business with his father serving as director for NBC News from 1947 to 1976, working on such pioneering shows as “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.” Turning to writing after retiring from the energy business, Peterson developed several projects for the stage and screen with a determined goal of expanding the creative opportunity of artists in the Mid-Atlantic States. Residing in northern Virginia, Peterson cultivated his strong ties with the Virginia Film Office, becoming a successful film investor and producer. Turning his sights to Hollywood, Peterson pitched and developed several projects under the banner of Slamgate Productions. “At the Top of the Pyramid” is Peterson’s first independent feature, and he has several projects in various stages of development.

About Co-executive Producer Richard Willis Jr. | Mozell Entertainment Group
Founded by Richard Willis Jr., Mozell Entertainment Group is a development, production and management company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Willis Jr., is an award-winning writer, producer, director, music producer and filmmaker. He won a Peabody Award as writer/consultant on the PBS documentary series, “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.” He also grabbed two Emmy nomination as writer/consultant on the PBS series, “I’ll Make Me a World” and “Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues” respectively. Willis, Jr., is the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in playwriting and screenwriting and grand-prize winner of the “Pitch Me!” competition, presented by the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE). He’s written several plays, including the off-Broadway hit, “Wasps in the Bed,” as well as directed numerous music videos, commercials and short films. Also, along with his producing music team, Willis, Jr., produced the “At the Top of the Pyramid” soundtrack for Mo-Slam Music at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood, Calif.


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