How My Drug Use and Jail Time Inspired My Film: Man in a Box by Kevin Eugene Davis


I’ve been through hell and back, but let me preface my story by saying that I am creating my happy ending.

Drugs and alcohol were a staple in my home, and as a result, my younger sister and I were often separated from our mother and staying with relatives or friends.  By the time I was 15 years old, I was already living on my own, although, I was not totally alone – I often kept company with prostitutes, alcoholics, and other “damaged people” but they were able to provide me with a place where I can lay my head and dream of better days.

Kevin Eugene Davis on the set of MAN IN A BOX
While I could have easily let my past experiences pervade my present state of mind, I choose instead to turn to the Bible, this was the  only thing that brought me peace in my younger days, giving me hope and courage to rise above and not become a statistic. Despite my trials under which I endured, I persevered, and  I am proud to say that I graduated high school.

Despite the distance between my sister and I, we were always close. Unfortunately, things were even more difficult for her, she endured terrible abuse, and it is an experience that haunts her to this day.  She walked a different path, dropped out of school, turned to drugs.  One of her children, my niece Nakya, was killed in a car accident when she was four years old, adding more pain to the broken souls of this family.  As you can imagine, I was devastated by her loss, and my first film was made in memory of  her.

Unfortunately, my path was not always straight.  “That Life” as a way of enticing you, and I slowly started veering away from my faith and soon found myself under the shackles of drugs, but in a different way.  I started dealing drugs.  Knowing in my heart this was not the life I dreamed for myself or God intended for me, yet I had gotten caught up in this “high-life.”  Having materialistic possessions and people “needing” you is a powerful thing, until it comes crashing down!  And, that it did.   I was arrested for possession with intent to deliver.  I could not believe I have allowed “this World” to change my story.  After a grueling two-year wait, I was finally given my sentence; 6-23 months and having to leave my family and my girlfriend was the wake-up call I needed,  I vowed right then and there that I would turn my life around and do everything within my power to ensure that I would never go back to jail and be the writer of my destiny.

On the set of MAN IN A BOX
Upon my release, I worked like a dog, constantly having two jobs, that I had lined up for me before my release.   I enrolled in college and earned a nursing degree.  I started a family and had a nice career as a Nurse, the chaos of my life seemed to be settling, but not for long. The most difficult chapter of my life was not yet over – I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008 and had to have a colon resection.   I spent months lying in bed sick, but this gave me time to re-evaluate my life.  This time brought me back to God and also I began thinking about my childhood dreams. I am happy to report that the cancer had not spread past my colon, and that today I am cancer-free!
On the set of MAN IN A BOX
Things slowly started to change in 2010.   I got divorced, took some acting classes and worked on sets as an extra.  This is when I realized I wanted more from the process – I wanted to make movies, not act in them.   I had always been drawn to film in some way.  It was an escape for me.   I would watch movies for hours and daydream about making my own.  I would even jot down notes when ideas for scripts would pop into my head and had even written a few stories as a child.  However, my dream was never nurtured in my youth, and my friends and family would always chastise me whenever I mentioned my film-making interest.


In 2012 I was unemployed and I could have easily looked at this as another set back in my life but instead I thought of this as sign, telling me, this is the time to start creating the life you always wanted.  I decided to write a script! I won’t lie – I was terrified at first.  I felt intimidated by the whole thing, and I watched several videos on script writing and read scripts that were uploaded online in an effort to hone my skills.

Kevin Eugene Davis on the set of MAN IN A BOX

I spent many a sleepless night trying to get the script just right, but it never felt good enough.  I was constantly comparing myself to others in the field and feeling like I could never measure up to their caliber.  I talked myself out of outright quitting more than a few times.

But then I read about Steven Spielberg, a man who went on to become a legend but who actually had to lie to get his first gig – and they didn’t even think he was that good!  Or about how folks took a while to get used to Quentin Tarantino’s own unique style.  I thought to myself that I was in the same boat as Quentin.  I had my own style, too – I just had to fine-tune it.  I also came to the epiphany that comparing yourself to others makes pure creativity nearly impossible.

.The first comprehensive script that I wrote was significantly influenced by my experience with cancer, but that’s another film for another day.  My next script, which I wrote in two months is the project I am promoting here today, is Man in a Box, a film about a man named Lloyd Thomas who is released from a mental institution after spending 20 years in a mental institution for murdering his family.

In the film, Lloyd turns to the Bible, just as I had in my youth, for guidance in attempting to acclimate back into society.  However, upon seeing just how damaged society is as a whole, he decides to take matters into his own hands in the name of God.

.Once I had the script written, I was unsure what to do next. I placed an ad in Craigslist for a screenwriter who could make corrections to my script. I came into contact with a writer who assisted me and helped to polish the script.

So, I had a script, and a pretty good one.   But what’s next, how does one make the necessary connections to get their script made into a movie?  But I was determined to make my project work, and I took to Craigslist for assistance, along with making requests of friends and family members to pitch in and help with both crew and acting roles.  By August of 2012, we were already filming the script for Man In a Box.


With the help of several stores, businesses, and churches who allowed us to use their establishments for shooting scenes, we ended up completing the film on a budget of only about $6,350.  We even had SAG members in the cast: I was overjoyed that these talented, seasoned actors wanted to be part of MY film. When I saw them rehearse for the first time, I was in awe.   I could not believe this was happening, that my dream was coming to fruition!


Things were going really well, but there are always things that we don’t know and learn along the way.  One of the most important lessons I learned while making my film was that you must make a shot list.  I didn’t have one, and as a result, my editor told me later on that there were some angles we should have shot that we didn’t. This would not have happened had we made a shot list to reference.

So I then had to bother the folks who were kind enough to help me the first time around and who had already moved on to other things to come back and re-shoot some of the scenes in order to get the different angles we needed.  This is even more difficult when you factor in things that can change over time, like lighting, people’s hair colors and lengths, and the exteriors and interiors of the locations we used.

Another lesson I learned the hard way: there are two incredibly important people to have on set, a light guy and a sound guy.  As a result of having neither of these, we had to cut several good scenes from the film for no other reason than poor audio, and still other scenes were not properly lit.  One thing’s for sure, I will certainly remember to have both of these folks on set when I move on to my next film.

I can’t give enough thanks to the Producers, DP, crew, my editor, the musical artists that contributed great music for the film, and all of the wonderfully gifted actors who sacrificed their time.

Nothing happens singularly, and this film and my life gives credence to that. Without my faith in God, my family, friends the people who believed in me and this project and even all of my experiences I endured over my life this film would not have gotten made.  It’s not a perfect film by any means, but I wouldn’t trade my experience in making it for the world.




Kevin Eugene Davis is an actor and producer, known for Man in a Box (2014), The Road Killer (2014) and Socovetous (2011).







Synopsis for Man in a Box:

Lloyd Thomas is released from a mental institution after 20 years for murdering his family. Using the Bible for guidance and understanding he struggles to acclimate back into society, while seeking forgiveness and redemption. Lloyd, seeing the world ridden with hate and sin he soon begins to take matters into own hands all in the name of God.



Warren Bub, Michael Galante, Chelsea Martin & Kevin Davis

Directed By:

Kevin Eugene Davis

Written By:

Kevin Eugene Davis/ Tom Peeler

Produced By:

Kevin Eugene Davis


Brandon M. Freer



(Watch the video interview here)


(Watch the video interview here)


(Watch the video interview here)


Michael Galante’s latest project will be screening at Cannes next month!  More info here

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