“Eeazy,” is an urban, gritty webisode series filmed and directed by St. Thomas filmmaker and Atlanta resident John Wheatley. The show is produced by another St. Thomas native Benny Demus. Benny Demus aka Benny D is Akon’s deejay and a talented performer is his own right. The original series was nominated for an award by The American Black Film Festival.
The webisodes are one of the top-scoring submissions and one of four finalists in the film festival’s Webisode Challenge, according to Melanie Sharee, festival director.
Webisodes are similar to a TV series with episodes broadcast on websites. “Eeazy” is a series with a story line based on family loyalty and what happens when murder, family relations and friendships become entangled, according to the ABFF announcement about the finalists.
The webisodes star Demus and Dorian Santiago, and two seasons of the series can be found online at www.bennydemus.com.
I recently sat down with Benny for an exclusive RCS Interview Quickie:
What makes this accomplishment even more special is that both of these young men are not only talented individuals but both represent the very best of what the United States Virgin Islands has to offer: young, bright, intelligent, gifted and black. Mostly importantly, both are very congenial and have a sense of responsibility to their community. As such, both continually “give back” to their community here and back in St. Thomas, USVI.
The festival took place June 20-23 in Miami, and the winner of the challenge was announced on the final day of the festival in the ABFF Winner’s Circle Awards Presentation on June 23. The winning entry received a cash prize of $2,500 and the producers and directors win a trip to Los Angeles for a pitch meeting and lunch with Warner Brothers Film Distribution and digital executives.
Unfortunately, the dynamic Rock City duo did not win the challenge, however, they did have an opportunity to attend a private dinner with HBO. They’re winners in my book!
The ABFF is primarily composed of world premieres of narrative, documentary and short films, and it is the largest film festival in the world for African American and urban content, according to Sharee. ABFF launched its first Webisode Challenge for the 2012 film festival to identify writers, directors and producers who demonstrate outstanding promise in creating episodic television ideal for broadcast, according to the ABFF announcement.
Wheatley grew up on The Avenue in Sugar Estate, St. Thomas, (big up to the “Avenue” massive!) and attended Lockhart Elementary School and Adelita Cancryn Junior School. He is a graduate of the Charlotte Amalie High School Class of 1998.
Wheatley’s entertainment career began in 2001 at the Major Broadcasting Cable Network in Atlanta where he produced on-air television campaigns for the creative services department. He has worked on a number of productions, including “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “The Jackson Family Dynasty,” The 2010 and 2011 “Tom Joyner Cruise,” “The Soul Train Awards” and the “BET Hip Hop Awards.”
Wheatley currently lives in Atlanta and has a film degree from Full Sail University. He is a 2009 graduate of Barney Fletcher Real Estate School and a 2010 graduate of Bethel School of Ministry.
For more information about the festival or the Web Series challenge, visit www.abff.com.