In the feature version of On Time, we see the events that lead up to the fateful day when Renee is arrested and her daughter, Imani is taken away from her. We also see how the consequences of Renee's actions unfold as she must navigate the legal system and child protective services in her efforts to regain custody of her daughter. We are introduced to other characters--lawyers, counselors, friends and co-workers--who all play a part in whether mother and daughter will be reunited.
For many, our protagonist's only crime is being black, unemployed and female. For others, regardless of her situation, her decision is reprehensible. Is it really so cut and dry? While one of the women who served as inspiration for the story found help, the feature will follow the normal trajectory. I'm not trying to paint an institution as unfair, but objectively portray the system, which alone will bring out the apparent injustices.
Rather than accuse the system, our main character, Renee, is a woman who wants to show she can work within it to succeed. This is where her ideology parts from mine. By doing whatever is necessary to provide, she sets herself on a downward spiral, and though Renee sees it as her fault only, the audience should see what part the system plays in her situation.
The tone of this film is serious, and pensive. The visual style will be a dichotomy of color. The people, places, and locations that are precious to Renee will be warm, red. The people, places, and locations that are dangerous to her, will be cool, blue. The visual style will also be reminiscent of cinéma vérité, where the camera leads us to truth.
Not long ago, I attended my Harvard Law School reunion. As one of a only few alumni who had stopped practicing law to pursue other endeavors, I was reticent about attending. My classmates are insanely accomplished--partners, general counsels, CEOs, judges, award winning writers, noted music producers, congresspeople, etc. I felt my artistic accomplishments paled in comparison, but I was reminded that "comparison is the thief of joy." I love what I do and my classmates have always been supportive and encouraging of my artistic endeavors.
As we were participating in an lively group discussion that seemed to have no real topic boundaries, I remembered why I had originally wanted to be a lawyer: it was the idea that somehow as an advocate within the legal system I could fight for social justice, As I sat in that room, inspired by my attorney classmates, I realized that I hadn't given up on that goal--I had just found another way to pursue it.
I played Renee in the short film On Time and part of what drew me to the character and the story was that it is based on actual legal cases involving women of color who found themselves caught up in the judicial and foster care systems. The other thing that drew me to the project was that it dealt with homelessness, an issue in our society that has long been important to me. Particularly, On Time addresses the plight of the working homeless. After 2008 and with the continued rise in housing costs in Los Angeles, the number of people affected by this issue has soared. Working on the feature version of On Time seemed like a way to shine a much needed light on both these issues and bring awareness of them to a larger audience; an "artistic" way to fight for social justice.
Immediately upon my return to Los Angeles, I contacted Xavier about making the feature version of On Time. I knew the short had come out of a feature script Xavier had written that made it into the second round of the Sundance Lab, but he had put it aside to pursue other projects. Fortunately, he was on board with my newly inspired enthusiasm for the film and its timely topics, and started working on rewriting and updating it. Which brings us to today, after numerous drafts, notes and a table read.
This is a film worth making, not just because it's a good story, but because it's an amalgamation of the true stories of mothers willing to take risks, some that might be considered desperate or foolhardy, to provide for their children--not just with food and shelter for the moment, but with the hopes of health and housing for their futures. It's the story of people who struggle to make ends meet, who work and still can't come up with enough to put a roof over their heads. It's the story of how pride can be the rock that helps a woman stand on her own two feet or how it can be the stumbling block that keeps her from what she most desires.
Xavier Burgin is an Emmy-nominated writer/director from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He nurtured his creative process there, honing his skills as a filmmaker. Xavier is the Director of Shudder’s first original documentary, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. He’s also a Sundance Lab Fellow, an HBO Finalist, a Ryan Murphy Television Half Foundation alumni, a semifinalist for the Student Academy Awards, and a director on the Emmy nominated series, Giants.
Xavier’s feature documentary, Horror Noire, expounds on the history of Black Americans in horror cinema. The film, currently streaming on Shudder, has been covered by the A.V. Club, The Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian, Slash Film, The Verge, Entertainment Weekly, and more. It was featured in an educational screening hosted by The Toronto International Film Festival. It includes interviews from Jordan Peele, Keith David, Tony Todd, Rachel True, Paula Jai Parker, Richard Lawson, and more prominent actors, filmmakers, and scholars in the horror genre. It currently holds a "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Xavier directed Episode 204: Lights Out and Episode 207: Okay In the Silence, of the Emmy nominated series, Giants, currently on Issa Rae’s Color Creative. Xavier’s work has been nominated for an Emmy in the “Outstanding Directing for a Digital Drama Series” category. The series has been picked up for television via TV One.
Xavier is a fellow of The Sundance Institute's YouTube New Voices Lab where his series, Late Registration, was selected. Xavier shadowed on the set of American Horror Story as a member of the RMTV Half Foundation, a diversity mentorship program created by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Scream Queens). Xavier has also been a semi-finalist for ABC|Disney’s Directing and Writer Programs, Sony’s Diverse Director’s Program, and Viacom’s Emerging Directors Program.
Xavier’s feature script, On Time, has won The Screencraft Drama Competition and The Film Empire Diversity Screenplay competition. It was a finalist in the Hollywood Talent Summit Screenplay competition and Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay competition.
On Time, Xavier’s proof of concept for his feature script of the same name, is an HBO short film finalist, Audience Award Social Political Film Festival Jury Winner, netted him a Best Director award at Sunscreen Film Festival West, and won Best Actress at Poland’s Grand Off Film Festival. It premiered on HBO and has been seen on Cinemax and Spectrum. Olde E, his thesis film, was a semi-finalist for the 43rd Student Academy Awards and chosen for Ryan Murphy’s Director’s showcase. Other, his film about Black America’s two voices, has been featured on Shadow & Act, Bossip, and Colorlines.
Xavier has worked with AMC, Shudder, Kevin Hart’s LOL Network, Baron Davis’ No Label, Stage 3 Productions, Bazelevs (Wanted, Unfriended), Google, and Lenovo as a director, writer and/or cinematographer.
Inger Tudor is an award-winning actress who grew up in Cincinnati, OH and Valencia, CA and attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where she enjoyed pursuing the arts and political and cultural activism. After law school, she joined the prestigious firm of Widett, Slater & Goldman in Boston as a litigation associate. After an attempted merger and subsequent dissolution of the firm, Inger decided to pursue acting professionally and relocated to New York, where she performed in off-Broadway and regional theatre and toured internationally with the Gospel musical, “Mama, I Want to Sing!”
With a desire to learn more about theatre, Inger moved to England for a year to study classical theatre at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Upon finishing her course, she returned to New York and then moved to Los Angeles where she has been blessed to play numerous roles on television and in film and theatre, including productions at Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse and A Noise Within. She is a company member at the award-winning Theatre of NOTE and Rogue Machine theatres, and a guest artist with Antaeus Ensemble.
Her recent television and film credits include a leading role in the upcoming feature "Voodoo Macbeth," a recurring role on "Goliath," a leading role in the Adult Swim miniseries,"The Trial," and supporting roles in the feature films "Elizabeth Blue" and “Lemon,” as well as the lead in the highly acclaimed HBO short film, "On Time," for which she won Best Actress awards at The Ikuska International Film Festival in Spain and the Grand Off Film Festival in Poland.
Inger is also a voice-over actor with credits including work as the announcer on “Divorce Court,” radio plays and a national tour of "Steel Magnolias" with Los Angeles Theatre Works, audiobooks and television voice narration for the blind. In addition to acting, she directs and produces theatre, is currently working on the scripts for a short film and television pilot, and is a proud member of Maranatha Community Church.