Men are taught to be the providers and protectors of their family.
But for some, the long hours at work and on the road come at a cost - one with a hefty price tag.
Neglectful. Absentee. Regretful.
These three words describe Alan Brooks’ latest character in the award winning short film, ‘The Portrait.’
The film tells the story of a contentious relationship between a wealthy father, Anthony Parker, played by Tray Chaney (Bounce TV’s Saints and Sinners) and son Tyson Parker, played by Dee Dubois (Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween and Boo2!).
“‘The Portrait’ is a cautionary tale that tackles the strain on families after divorce and maintaining healthy relationships with minor children,” Brooks said.
Almost a year after Brooks wrapped filming, the indie project debuted on Aspire (TV) on Saturday, Aug. 24.
“God has a perfect plan and you have to wait on his timing,” Brooks said.
Claflin University touts that it helps cultivate the next generation of world visionaries.
With that, the 2011 graduate concurs.
“Claflin helped groomed me to persevere despite rejections as it relates to the industry,” the mass communications major said. “Aspiring film directors have to understand that you’ll get a hundred ‘no’s’ before you get that one ‘yes.’”
Children are impressionable and they feed off of the vibes of their parents and the adults around them, Brooks noted.
“We have a collective responsibility regarding the outcomes of the children and young people in our lives. ‘The Portrait’ is near and dear to my heart because it was God-inspired and now it will be aired on national television for more eyes and hearts to become attached.”
For Chaney (HBO’s The Wire), working on “The Portrait” was a “passion project” that occurred shortly after his move from Maryland to Atlanta.
What makes this film relevant for Chaney is that it drives home the importance of home.
“A lot of fathers get so wrapped up in their careers without noticing that they’re neglecting their kids,” for the sake of a dollar or recognition, he said.
Know the "do’s" and "don'ts" of parenting, he added.
“Do show up for the events that matter to your family, do realize that children are a priority” and don’t take note of the time you do or don’t invest in their lives.
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Chaney said that even as a seasoned actor, he stayed close to Brooks while on location to ensure that he was giving his all into Anthony’s character.
“I was asking all the questions in the world to make sure that Alan’s vision was coming to life. I wanted to deliver the dialogue in such a way that any father, of any race would watch this film and see themselves.”
Brooks recently worked with J.D. McCrary, the voice of young Simba in Disney’s record-breaking reboot of “The Lion King.”
The 30-year-old writer and producer directed McCrary’s music video, “My Name.”
The video was an official selection at the BronzeLens Film Festival and was nominated for Best Music Video.
In addition to working with Billboard Hot 100 rapper Silentó (“Watch Me”), Brooks has also directed videos for South Carolina natives Algeron Wright (“From Our Hearts) and BET Sunday Best Season 5 winner Joshua Rogers (“I Need You” and “Numbers”).
In late 2015, the recent Savannah College of Art and Design graduate was sitting on his porch in Orangeburg and felt led to tell the “universal story that would be a conversation starter for families.”
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, parents should be alert to signs of distress in their child or children following a divorce or traumatic experience.
Young children may react to divorce by becoming more aggressive and uncooperative or by withdrawing.
Older children may feel deep sadness and loss. Their schoolwork may suffer and behavior problems are common. As teenagers and adults, children of divorce can have trouble with their own relationships and experience problems with self-esteem.
Brooks said it was important for him to write and direct the film from a child’s perspective because “Too often children feel like they don’t have a voice when it comes to issues that affect the family.”
“Through this project and with the great performance by Tray, who is an outstanding father of two, I want parents to recognize that their children's feelings are valid and encourage them not to ignore the signs that there might be a problem before it’s too late.”
“Pay attention to when your child becomes withdrawn and doesn’t want to engage in social activities -- they’re trying to tell you something but may not have the words to articulate how they’re feeling.”
Brooks said don’t let your grind take you away from your first priority -- your family.
The film has a black lead cast.
“It was important for me to show a black educated and wealthy family,” he said. “The narrative of black success goes against the norm of what is depicted on film and television.”
Brooks said it’s important for all film makers to stay true to themselves, their audiences and the stories they want to tell.
“If this film touches one heart, or changes one family for the better, I’ve done my job, the cast has done their job.”
Aspire was launched in 2012 by Magic Johnson.
“The Portrait” aired during the network’s Urban Indie Block.
According to its website, the programming block features the best of urban short films by tomorrow’s next great filmmakers.