As I have said before, the film business is a cutthroat place. If you want to dip your toe into it, you risk getting your entire leg bitten off.
Just ask director Gee Malik Linton about what happened with his thriller, "Exposed," which he wrote and directed, and that is set to come out next moth through via Lionsgate.
You may have seen the trailer (below) for the film starring Keanu Reeves. Just from the looks of it, it appears to be a rather routine throwback to those cop thrillers from the 1970’s or 80’s, with a white cop in the middle of an urban jungle, facing scary looking black guys who want to do him bodily harm.
However, the project originally was something completely different.
According to both Salon and The Guardian, the film was originally titled "Daughter of God," and its focus was on a young Dominican woman (played by actress Ana de Armas) who experiences strange occurrences after witnessing a miracle. Meanwhile, a police detective (Reeves) searches for answers behind his partner’s death.
According to one source, Reeves’ role, which was to be played by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death, "was a small white male role," adding that "It was a 60-percent Spanish-language movie."
Well that was then, and this is now, because, when Lionsgate picked up the independently produced film for distribution, they obviously didn’t care for Linton’s cut, thinking that a film centered around a young Latina woman was not commercial enough. And so the mini studio had the film recut, slicing about 20 minutes from the film, and, in turn, making Reeves the central character in what has become more of an ordinary action thriller.
Reportedly Reeves supervised the re-editing of the film personally, though a spokesman for him has said that he "did not supervise any of the editing." Nevertheless, the end result now is that Linton became so angered and dissatisfied with what happened to his original version of the film, that he took the rare step of removing his name from the credits entirely, and replacing it with the pseudonym "Declan Dale," obviously wanting to disassociate himself from the project.
Though this kind of thing has happened before, it has been many years since a director was compelled to remove his/her name from a film due to excessive tampering from the studio. However, in Linton’s case, he no doubt felt that his original vision had been so badly compromised that there was no way he could take credit for it.
The even bigger shame is that "Exposed" ("Daughter of God") is Linton’s first feature film, having only previously directed a short, "No Mirror Land." The filmmaker also has quite an interesting background.
Born in Brooklyn to a Jamaican family, Linton majored in physics in college and was pursuing a master’s degree until he sold a screenplay and switched to filmmaking. He also previously owned and operated one of the most exclusive full service fitness and concierge businesses in the world – one with an international clientele that included even foreign royalty, Silicon Valley execs, and Hollywood studios. He also has worked as a personal trainer for actors on "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Spider Man."
Fortunately, Linton is set to direct a martial arts film next, titled "The Seventh Sword," which will hopefully be better handled by whomever distributes it. He even has a sci-fi graphic novel in the works titled "Shade Land," which is coming out in August 2016.
Still, Linton must be extremely disappointed after coming face to face with the Hollywood reality that, despite the changing demographics of audiences, when it comes to movie heroes, white guys still rule.