DC Filmmaker and CEO of ShoCase Entertainment Antjuan ‘ShoCase’ Ward on Setting No Limits for Himself

ANTJUAN ‘SHOCASE’ WARD – FILMMAKER CEO OF SHOCASE ENTERTAINMENT – ‘Insomnia’

 

Film Courage:  Where did you grow up?

Antjuan Ward:  Well for the first 12 years of my life I was living between Washington DC and Maryland mostly but I spent 3 years in Los Angeles, California. I grew up with my mom and my little brother so for me it meant a lot of responsibilities.  We didn’t have a lot but my mom made sure we had enough to at least keep a smile on our faces. We always found a way to laugh through our hardest times.

Antjuan as a child (sitting in the back) – eldest son of five kids

Film Courage:  Which of your parents do you resemble most?

Antjuan:  You know what, its tough to answer this one because I’m like the split between the two. From my mom I resemble her strength and tough exterior with a soft core. From my dad I would say his open mind and wisdom. If we are talking looks, my mom according to my family (lol)

Film Courage:   Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?

Antjuan:  Well with all parents who do not have a creative background, they mostly want you to follow in their footsteps and go to college, get a good job which of course is not a bad route if that’s what you want. I will say my mom was always open to hear about my creativity and to say she was proud of me. My dad, by the time he came back in the picture, didn’t really know that side of me but he taught me some early lessons when it came to business which help me today. My mom was more so encouraging me not to give up than on what career to go down and my father has a background in law enforcement and military, so of course he wanted me to go that route like any father would.

 


Film Courage:   What were your plans after high school? 

Antjuan:  I was big into football so I wanted  to go to school and play. Didn’t work out obviously (haha). I always used my creativity as more of a release or an escape. I never thought about going to school to enhance my craft but I always met people who were in that creative field like actors, creative writing, music or film industry. From meeting these people they gave me the goosebumps I needed to enhance my craft myself.

Film Courage:   Did you go to film school?

Antjuan:  No, but I wish I would’ve thought about it.

Film Courage:   Biggest takeaway from college?

Antjuan:  The biggest negative was that if you do not have control of your dreams and it’s in the hands of someone else, then it’s going to come down to politics. The biggest positive, I was exposed to so many ethnical backgrounds and many walks of life. I learned that no matter what race you are or where you are from, we all pretty much do the same things and can always find a common ground. From those two perspectives I never let anyone handle my dreams, and though I didn’t treat people differently in the first place, I have a more of an understanding of how people act and why they think the way they do .

Film Courage:   How would you describe your perfect day?

Antjuan:  Being on an island with a recording studio that I can easily access and a camera in one hand and a Magarita in the other. Letting the world in front of me being the subject at hand.

Film Courage:   Who has been the most influential in your life?

Antjuan:  I would say my mom. She did not have it easy at all. 18 years old with a baby and just graduated from high school. We had it rough, did not know when the next meal was coming or if the lights would come on but she never gave up. I always look back on those days and wonder how did she keep it all together. Especially when we moved to LA. She was 27 driving From Washington D.C. to Los Angeles with two kids in a U-Haul. We had zero family out there but she made it work. My strength, my “never give up” attitude, my “go after it no matter what” feeling all comes from her.

Film Courage:   What was the first poem you wrote? 

Antjuan:  You are going to embarrass me (lol). Well, I was in 4th grade in Los Angeles and as most little boys in school I had a crush on this girl and I did not how to tell her so I wrote it in a poem called “My Girl.” So cliche, I know but, I tried. I was talking about how I wanted her to be with me and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. So I kept it for like a week before I gave it to her. My hands sweating and my heart beating out my chest while she read it. She crumbled it and threw it in my face and said EWWWW! Needless to say I was hurt so I did what any logical dude would do in that situation, tried to talk to her friends. I know, I’m terrible but I was in 4th, grade I wasn’t mature. She was jealous after that and then came my second poem “The Jealous Demon.” Oh, karma was sweet! .

Film Courage:   First place you performed as a songwriter?

Antjuan:  Well, since I could rap, the first time I performed was in high school in front of the school during lunch. I was afraid but I knew I was good, so once I started rhyming everything just flowed from there. Now when it comes to poetry that’s a little bit more personal. It took a while before I performed, but when I went to college in Florida my freshman year, this girl I was dating, who read some of my stuff, pushed me to get up on stage and recite one of my poems. That was my first time having stage fright because up to this point, I had done some school plays and showed my rapping skills to pretty much everybody. Because poetry was a more in depth look on how I felt I was way more nervous than usual. After I finally built up the courage, I recited the poem and got a standing ovation. I smiled while wiping the sweat from my forehead.

Film Courage:   What film had the biggest impact on your life and why?

Antjuan:  I would say The Matrix. I saw it a year after it came out so I was 13, I think it was the year 2000. Before this movie I would mostly watch comedies, actions, and horror movies. The Matrix was the first movie to not only make me think, but to think outside the box. This movie helped me understand that I did not have to accept what was right in front of me but to explore more in depth what I was seeing or hearing or feeling. Oh and the action was cool & different, it changed how we look at movies.

Film Courage:   What is ShoCase Entertainment and what do you do?

Antjuan:  ShoCase Entertainment is an company that consists of 3 divisions: Film/TV Production, Music Production and Talent Management. My title is Chief Executive Officer but my role is so much more. Take my web series “Insomnia”. My role in that production is Director, Executive Producer, Lead Actor, Music Supervisor, & Co-Producer of the Soundtrack. Also, handling the management of the clients that are signed with the company, handling or supervising the music that’s produced by the company. So many hats but I love it, plus I have people in place that are great at what they do so it makes the many tasks more manageable.

Film Courage:   When did you begin ShoCase Entertainment and why?

Antjuan:  In 2011, ShoCase Entertainment started as solely a management company, because people that had creative talents trusted my business intellect and my positive attitude to get their career to the next level. As I grew into more markets in the entertainment field, so did my “know how” which grew into more divisions for the company. Who knows what is next for ShoCase Entertainment, but I continue to grow and accept any new possibilities.

Film Courage:  What inspired/sparked the idea the story for INSOMNIA?

Antjuan:  I was sitting with my good friend and mentor, as I like to call him, Don Hankins. He actually brought the general idea to me at first and he wanted me to help. So of course I agreed and from there I brought it from a short film to a web series with a more in-depth storyline. We sat down and figured out the foundation of where we wanted the story to go. Since he is a director of photography, he focused on more of how shots would look and I focused on how the story would flow. Team work made the dream work.

Film Courage:   Why are you making INSOMNIA?  How does it tie in with ShoCase Entertainment?

Antjuan:  I’m making it because it’s fun! It’s creative, it’s interesting and as far as web series are concerned, I personally don’t think you have seen anything like this. A lot of thought went into this and I know it will show once its done. Since my company handles Film/TV Production, this is one way we can show what we are capable of doing. Along with that comes the Music Production division. We are going to be producing all original music for this series and make a soundtrack out of it. Again, it’s going to be fun because it’s a lot of creative people coming together doing what they do best, creating!

Film Courage:  How long was the idea floating around in your head before you started writing INSOMNIA?

Antjuan:  I would say 6 months

Film Courage:   How long did it take you to write the first draft?  What about rewrites?

Antjuan:  The first draft took 3 months and the rewrites took another 5 months. Since I’m open to new ideas you never know, we can just add something that was never in the script because it’s what the series needs.

Film Courage:   How many people did you share the script with during the writing process?

Antjuan:  7 people in total. Some of them went to film school, some of them didn’t. We wanted the people who weren’t scared to hurt our feelings. Luckily for us everybody loved it, minus a few edits here and there.

Film Courage:   How long have you been planning the film?  What went into the pre-planning?

Antjuan:  After the first draft we went into planning, so as of now 6 months to research, discuss scenes and shots, finalize locations and get the actors and crew of course. But the great thing was before we started writing the script, we researched many things like the cases of insomnia and sleepwalking, also certain details about government conspiracies to make it seem real. We thought we needed a foundation to get started. Organization is key!

Film Courage:   Is INSOMNIA the first web series that you’ve made?

Antjuan:  Yes! Thus far we have only done short films (5 minutes being the max), so it was time for us to take the next step.

Film Courage:   For your new webseries INSOMNIA, did you come up with a film budget first (based on your resources available) before coming up with idea?  Or was it the other way around of having the idea first?

Antjuan:  We had the idea first and then came with the budget. Thought it would work out better.

Film Courage:   How did you calculate what the budget was going to be ($18,500)?

Antjuan:  We made sure we had not only the production and sound covered but we made sure we budgeted for marketing and promotion. We love the art but we have to understand that there is a business side to this.

Film Courage:   How much does your Kickstarter Campaign mean to this production?

Antjuan:  It means a lot of course. With this campaign we can not only make sure that this is top quality production but we can make sure we deliver this to the masses. There are a lot of great videos that get unnoticed because there was no marketing or promotion behind it. No public relations to make sure it got to the right people. We want to make that happen for this one.

.
Film Courage:   How much preparation went into your Kickstarter Campaign?   What went into creating your fantastic pitch video?

Antjuan:  ALOT!! When we first came up with the budget we automatically talked about Kickstarter. So more time went into what to ask for as far as money/budgeting and what the rewards would be. To be honest, the pitch video was simple. Why? Because it’s genuine, it was the truth. So I just spoke to the filmmakers, the creators, the innovators, my people.

Film Courage:  You are in the pitch video for INSOMNIA and do an amazing job carrying the message.  What is your advice to filmmakers who do not want to be in their own project’s pitch video?

Antjuan:  I would say, if you don’t want to be in your pitch video then find another creative way to get your point across. You are a filmmaker, make it a short film or a commercial. Something unique that people would think is cool or different. Do not be scared to pass your creative plateaus.

Film Courage:   How did you cast your actors?

Antjuan:  I put up a listing on IMDB and Backstage, and actors had to audition once they were selected. It took a while because I wanted the best people for the job. I know I did a great job and when this series is released you’ll see why.

Film Courage:   What other methods have you used outside of crowdfunding to raise money for this web series?

Antjuan:  Having investor meetings, asking friends and family to put in some money for it and using my own money.

Film Courage:  What camera(s) will you use to shoot the 6 episodes of INSOMNIA?  

Antjuan:  We will stick with DSLRs Canon 5d Mark 3 and if everything works in my favor we will get to play with the C300.

Film Courage:   Do you plan on submitting it to festivals?  Are there any other plans for distribution?

Antjuan:  Yes, local festivals, because of our release date, January 17, 2016, we will have to submit to the festivals that allow for submissions late 2015 early 2016. Hopefully we can spark the interest of someone at the streaming service studios or another network.

Film Courage:   What do you want audiences to gain from watching INSOMNIA?

Antjuan:  Enjoy the action, love the drama. The feeling that comes across from each character, I want it to be felt. I want people to watch this, ask questions and want more.

Film Courage:   Is there a thin line between ‘Dreams versus Reality’ and ‘Darkness versus Light?’ 

Antjuan:  Yes, indeed. We live in a world where most people work day in and day out just to live out their dreams. The reality for some people is so bleak that without their dream, what else would they have. For the people who actually make their dreams a reality, sometimes they realize that their old reality was better. As far as darkness versus light, I think people are capable of the same amount of the good as evil. Our experience in the life we live determines what route we go down. I’m that person that believes all evil has the potential of being good but also vice versa.

Film Courage:   What happens when someone tells you ‘No’?

Antjuan:  Depends on what you mean. If I’m trying to get something accomplished and you say No, then I’ll find another way. I’ve been told no so many times that the few ‘yeses’ I have received catch me off guard. So I really look at a ‘no’ as a brick wall in my way and I have figure out how to get around it.

Film Courage:   Why is the term “No Limits” how you live your life? 

Antjuan:  Bruce Lee once said, “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” I really believe this. Think about it, what is a limit? It’s a point which something does not or may not pass. But how do we know if it’s a limit or not if we don’t try to push pass it? You are only limited in your mind. 20 years ago the internet was a thing you had to buy, with some big bulky computer and get a connection to access it. Right now you are probably reading this on your mobile phone. What if they thought the limit was what we had 20 years ago? I wouldn’t be able to type this and scroll down my Facebook Timeline at the same time.

Film Courage:   Who are your heroes and why?

Antjuan:  I don’t really have heroes, I just have people that inspire me to be better and pick me up when I’m down. That would be my close friends and my family.

Film Courage:   How would you like to be remembered?

Antjuan:  As a person who let nothing stop him. A person who stayed true to his word and when he got to the top, he reached down to the bottom to help as many people as he possibly could. An innovator. A creator.

Film Courage:   What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?

Antjuan:  Signing my mother’s living will when she was diagnosed was cancer. Nothing comes close to that. But as you have been reading, she is a strong woman, so I’m happy to say she beat it!

Film Courage:   You have a video entitled ‘Go Smack Fitness’ on the ShoCase Entertainment Youtube Channel about the enemy within.  How have you been your own worst enemy and how do you combat it?

Antjuan:  Letting pride get into my way and not letting those that are close to me help me. I remember there was a time in college where I had no money and the only time I ate was when the cafe was open. On the weekends it would only be open a limited amount of the time, so if I missed it I was screwed. My friends would go out to a restaurant and I’d go just to go. They would ask me if I was hungry I would say no even though I was starving and you could hear my stomach growling from another state. They literally had to buy something and put it in front of me just because they knew I wouldn’t waste it. As I grew I started letting people help when I absolutely needed it. Still have a problem with this today but hey, everyone has flaws.

Film Courage: Worst piece of advice and best piece of advice someone gave you?

Antjuan:  Worst advice – People like us don’t reach their goals man, that’s only in the movies. Just settle for what life gives you and be happy with that.

Best Advice- Don’t listen to him, keep doing you!

Film Courage:  Biggest misconception the general public has about Washington, D.C.?

Antjuan:  It’s full of government, business and politics. DC has a lot of culture, we have produced plenty of musicians, actors, and artists. We even have our own music genre here called “Go-Go.”

Film Courage:   What’s next for you creatively?

Antjuan:  Well after this I’ll start developing our first feature film. I’ll be accepting anything life throws at me when it comes to being creative. Who knows, you might see me act along side Leonardo Dicaprio or Denzel Washington. Or I’ll be directing the next big blockbuster movie. I might bring you the next big artist in the music industry. Anything goes for ShoCase!

BIO:

Antjuan Ward’s artistic yet entrepreneurial spirit dates back to his high school days where he spent many hours developing his rhyming and songwriting abilities. Known to many as a walking talent show thanks to his poetically driven lyrics, admirable athletic abilities and intellect, the moniker “ShoCase” naturally fit his “do it all” mentality.

“The term “No Limits” is how I live my life! I don’t strive to meet expectations, I strive to work past them,” states Ward when asked about his tireless work ethic. “For me, it’s not enough to be the best at a few things. I want to be the best at everything I set out to achieve. Winning is the only option. Failure is not!”

While artistic expression fueled ShoCase’s drive in his early years as a young MC and songwriter, college is where he developed his business acumen. Sticking to his “ShoCase” mentality of doing it all, Ward applied his artist management skills to successfully branch off into event management and promotion in the Washington D.C. and Greensboro, N.C. market. No matter his development path, Ward always found time to return to his first love of performing and songwriting, which has won him both local and online songwriting competitions over the years.

Having developed skills that would serve him well not only as an artist but as a businessman, Ward launched ShoCase Entertainment in 2011, a full fledge entertainment production and talent management company. Under the creative advisement of producer and engineer, Kosmik, and Don Hankins, film and photography director, Ward not only learned how to instrumentally create sound but how to visually bring that sound to life.

Since its founding, ShoCase Entertainment has produced music videos, short films and commercials all under Ward’s creative advisement, while helping to launch the careers of some of music’s most-buzzed about new artist today including (Michael Marshall, Danielle Lyndsay). A true creative force and genius, ShoCase’s drive and creative influence makes him a true force to be reckoned with.

CONNECT WITH ANTJUAN ‘SHOCASE’ WARD: