One year since the Coronavirus pandemic laid its grip on the world, most countries have slowly but surely begun making progress. Vaccines are finally circulating while certain areas of the world continue to mitigate daily life with safety measures in place, and that inevitably includes film and television production, one of the most hardest hit industries in the globe as the field naturally calls for numbers of people to be in one place at once.
Invariably, independent productions are no different when it comes to enforcing guidelines, putting new habits into practice with social distancing, smaller numbers, mask wearing, etc. Independent, low budget, short-duration projects certainly provide some ease in this regard, particularly with filmmaker and exec producer Christopher Sheffield and the team he’s taken to task with his latest investment Welcome To The Sting, starring James M. Black and actor and industry stunt professional Billy R. Smith.
Filming took place during the first week of February, the result of Sheffield and his team looking to stay the course on a project with less riskier means in the wake of having to shelve bigger, more ambitious projects.
“[It] came together as a response to larger projects being shut down in the age of Covid,” said Sheffield, who filmed Welcome To The Sting during the first weekend of February, following suit with a concept he drew up in the months since the pandemic forced him to shelve other larger, more ambitious projects.
“We all didn’t want to lose the momentum we’d gained in pre-production for those other films, so we took that energy and put it into a new short-form idea.” he said.
Here’s the logline: Dev (Black), a fresh-faced detective, takes his first undercover step into the deadly world of the ‘Price Crime Syndicate’, but he learns the hard way that even Harper (Smith), a fellow undercover officer who’s been below the surface for too long, can’t keep him safe. It’s a life or death admission test that will see Dev put to his absolute limits. Will his limit be good enough, or will Harper sell him out to protect his own cover?
With Welcome To The Sting currently underway with post-production, Sheffield shared a batch of new stills and BTS photos which you can view in the following gallery:
I’m told that by the by, Sheffield intends on touting this one as another proof of concept in lieu of a hopeful feature. There are plans to share the short, and so I’m not certain as to whether or not this will impact its prospects with potential investors, but its secrecy doesn’t seem to be too rigid a provision in this case, and so there’s more to come on that end.
As for what fans can expect, I’ve so far seen several of Sheffield’s shorts as well as hitwoman thriller Split Lip, and last year’s western, Royal’s Revenge, which he co-directed with actor Kellan Garner. As always, the element of camaraderie on a project is a great factor, and Sheffield’s had nothing but praise so far with updates via his Instagram page, especially for Smith who also exec produces on Welcome To The Sting with Stephanie Sheffield, and serves as fight choreographer.
“As a director, you always want to work with artists who not only bring their talent, but really bring a great atmosphere to set, and that’s what this project was all about.” he says. “We wanted to pull together a group of really talented people both in front of and behind the camera that were all also committed to making something short form that audiences would be chomping at the bit to get more of.”
Sheffield also talked up his cast, including Smith, whose own stunt credits partly include Lincoln, TNT’s The Last Ship, and Jesse Johnson’s Savage Dog.
LA-based Black, who I met several years ago in person in New York City one evening, first came on my radar many years ago as his portrayal of superhero, Static Shock, in actor/filmmaker Choice Skinner’s own non-profit hit fan film favorite based on DC Comics IP, Black Lightning, was making the rounds. He and Skinner routinely collaborated on a number of projects, including his own proof, American Ronin, is up-and-coming in the film industry, and is looking to chart a path to toward even more prolific projects. He is represented by Beverly Hills-based Pierre Patrick.
“I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated and professional team.” he says. “[Billy R.] Smith and I have been working together since our Batgirl fan series and we were both really excited to get the chance to create with James [M. Black], but then Billy brought along Devyn Labella, Fernando Marrero, and Eli Godfrey (who was the masked killer Ghetty in ‘Split Lip’), and suddenly we had a really well rounded cast that all knew how to look dangerous in front of a camera. I’m super proud of what we accomplished with this film and I can’t wait to release it and bring all that hard hitting action to you folks!”
Follow Christopher Sheffield on Instagram for more updates.
All photos courtesy of Christopher Sheffield.