On the Set With 'Jumping the Broom'
In an exclusive with The Root on location in New York City, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso and director Salim Akil share how they bonded with other cast and crew members of the new rom-com.
Off to the side, two of the film's producers -- Glendon Palmer of Our Stories Films and Elizabeth Hunter, who also co-wrote the film -- confer with DeVon Franklin, a Sony executive. It is clear by the way they all get along that they've known one another a long time, acting more like siblings than colleagues. They huddle with Akil, sharing ideas, then break out in laughter as they move forward with the plan.
It's also clear they understand that it is going to be a long night, and they're ready for it. They rush to finish the shot of Mrs. Taylor entering a modest brownstone with a bag of groceries before the rain comes.
People make their way into the swanky lobby of the nearby Empire Hotel. Red and gold is everywhere, in direct contrast with the green of the trees and the darkening sky outside. Makeup artists, journalists, executives, friends and loved ones sit and chat while the crew figures out how to deal with the rain, which luckily subsides, turning the day into a perfect New York night.
Across the street from Lincoln Center sits a grand piano. Set decorators busy themselves putting final touches on lights. El DeBarge, who makes a cameo appearance, chats with his manager. In a few minutes, he'll sit down at the piano to make his movie debut.
It is Akil's first time directing a feature film, with an ensemble cast that includes film heavyweights like Bassett and Devine. "The beauty about working with an ensemble cast on this project is that all of them accepted what we were doing, and we were all trying to make something good happen. There was no ego-tripping. It was like real cool people hanging out and working," says Akil.
Coordinating all the moving parts -- from making sure that the cars on the street move on cue to ensuring that the actors hit their marks -- requires machinelike precision. One scene is repeated over and over as Akil attempts to get the timing just right. It's like making music.