"I am passionate about telling this story because, in many ways, I am Norma Ann Waters– struggling to survive in an oversaturated [film] industry where being a minority stacks the odds against me."
"Norma" navigates a Louisiana blues singer's struggle to break into the mainstream. Norma Ann Waters, our protagonist, battles an evershifting, oversaturated music industry that has blacklisted her for challenging its authority. Branded as outdated, she grapples with insecurities and internal conflicts. Amid racism, greed, and economic challenges in the 1930s, Norma fights to regain relevance. The film captures her unwavering selfhood, illustrating a journey of finding one's voice and seizing destiny despite societal attempts at silence and diminish.
I'm compelled to share this story because, like Norma, I face the challenges of surviving in a saturated [film] industry where being a minority poses formidable odds. It's a reality resonating with many who passionately believe in something but face constant rejection, having a crystal-clear vision without the chance to execute it. "Norma" reflects viewers' struggles. Eugene Butler's journey should invigorate viewers— rekindling hope in his ambitious pursuit. Just as Norma identifies with Eugene, I want viewers to witness how he seizes control of his destiny. This story will unfold authentically, preserving the raw essence of its time, creating a biopic-like experience.
Visually, "Norma" draws inspiration from the cinematic styles of "Ray" (2004), "Bessie" (2015), and "Dreamgirls" (2006). Much like "Ray" captures the larger-than-life persona of Ray Charles, "Bessie" unveils the uncensored toughness and tenderness of Bessie Smith, and "Dreamgirls" immerses audiences in the dual chaos of onstage and backstage dynamics.
The goal is to transport the audience to a different time period while employing modern film techniques. In my prior work, "Pearl Motel," a micro-budget period piece set in the 1930s and 1950s, we adeptly immersed the audience in a bygone era—capturing authentic exteriors with period cars, dressing a cast and extras in era-appropriate wardrobe, and creating authentic settings on a minimal budget. These experiences from "Pearl Motel" will guide our execution of "Norma."
I aim to curate an authentic soundtrack for "Norma" by collaborating with local musicians to compose original music for the fictional band, capturing the essence of the time period. Drawing from my experience producing period music for "Pearl Motel," where local artists and musicians played a pivotal role, I intend to commence this creative partnership early in the pre-production phase, allowing the music to influence the narrative structure. Beyond enhancing the film, the music will serve as a powerful marketing tool post-production, broadening the film's reach to a diverse demographic.
This film aspires to pay homage to the rich legacy of Louisiana music, celebrating its diverse culture embodied in venues like juke joints, tent shows, and the chitlin circuit. A tribute to the artists, including jazz and blues musicians, who became pillars of strength for their communities during tumultuous times. "Norma" aims to safeguard the authentic sound that forms the core of Louisiana's heritage, the birthplace of jazz and blues, influencing the broader music industry. It serves as a heartfelt salute to revered Louisiana artists such as Irma Thomas and Slim Harpo, instrumental in shaping the vibrant tapestry we celebrate today. Above all, this film emphasizes the transformative power of Louisiana music, breaking down barriers of race, oppression, and classism.