Writer, Producer and Director, Jermaine Quick on the eve of the premiere of his new film, “Heartless.”
When I first got the assignment to interview the creative mind behind the forthcoming movie “Heartless,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. Certainly not anyone as empathetic as writer, director, and producer Jermaine Quick. I called Jermaine to schedule our interview when I was at the tail-end of a cold and, after my second cough of the conversation, he slipped into caretaker mode.
“If you’re open to it, I’d love to suggest some natural remedies…” After Jermaine had painstakingly detailed an apple cider vinegar and ginger tea protocol, we solidified our interview plans. We got off the phone, and I was left with the distinct impression that Jermaine is anything but heartless.
A day later, we sat across from each other at the Panera Bread on City Avenue, and my suspicions were confirmed. The child of an addicted mother and absentee father who grew up in the foster care system, Jermaine is the definition of a self-made man. He never allowed his early-life circumstances to hinder his progress or to make him selfish or embittered.
“That passion to see people get help, to see people strive to overcome, has always been in my spirit,” he told me. This passion is clearly communicated in his work. After a successful start in music, this man of many talents found himself wanting to become a filmmaker. He thought moviemaking would offer him a more effective vehicle for inspiring people to think differently. “I think my life is built on nurturing and helping others,” he said.
He’s helped a lot of people and the community at large by centering his creative projects within the City of Brotherly Love. The lifelong Philadelphian has become an icon within the community. He writes, directs and produces his own movies, recruiting local talent and shooting on weekends so as not to impact anyone’s day jobs, including his own. Although several of Jermaine’s award-winning films have received national recognition, the moviemaker continues to hold down a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. He finances all of his features himself and, as he puts it, “It’s not about the money. It’s about the nature of the art.”
I wanted to know more about the nature of his art, so I asked him how he arrived at his business name and brand. He smiled, then explained that the Illadel Styles name originated because of his love of Philadelphia, “the illest city,” and the unique style that defines him.
The creative says he aims to film one feature-length film a year and that he enters into each endeavor with the hope that he’ll produce something that will leave his viewers changed as a result of having seen it. So far, he’s completed five full-length movie projects, all of which he’s written, directed, and produced himself. His upcoming film, “Heartless,” is a story that addresses several themes, most prominent among them the devastating effects of mental illness within families and the ways human beings mistreat each other.
“We’re in a paradigm where most of our activity is heartless,” Jermaine told me. “How we talk to people, how we express ourselves, the words we use, the way we act… Sometimes, we’ve gotta do the exact opposite in order to get people’s attention.”
This drive to reveal the devastating consequences of widespread heartlessness was part of what compelled Quick to tell this particular story from an atypical perspective.
“I wanted to create something that shows heartless activity through the eyes of a child,” he said. “The question of the movie is, ‘How does she adapt?'”
I couldn’t help but reflect upon the ways Quick himself has chosen to adapt or how he’s used the struggles of his past as a propeller, driving him to tell significant stories with multi-dimensional characters, important topics, and a distinctly Philly flavor.
I haven’t seen the “Heartless” movie yet. Other than Quick, no one has. Not even the actors. That’s part of what makes his premieres so much fun. Even the actors have no idea what to expect! They don’t even get the entire script before, during, or after the making of one of Quick’s films. All they receive are the scenes they’re in.
“They trust my vision,” Jermaine said. “They believe in me enough to act this way on film and come see it as a surprise.”
I understood. I hadn’t even known him for an hour, and I believed in him. I also believe that he’s doing something great for the City of Philadelphia by creating powerful, evocative, and original movies that showcase local talent and bringing them to the festival circuit. Jermaine may be taking his movie on the road soon to festivals from Toronto to California, but you can catch the premiere right here in Philadelphia on December 5. I can’t wait to see it alongside the movie’s actors and other Philadelphia notables. And, thanks to Jermaine’s naturopathic prescriptions, I’ll be right there in the mix, cough free, and feeling fabulous.
For more information about the “Heartless” premiere or to buy your $15 ticket to either the 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. December 5th viewings, visit here.