After numerous accolades and a lauded premiere at the SXSW festival, “Licks” has been released digitally throughout the world by independent distributor Blue Sky Media. The film is available for purchase or rental in 18 different languages on most major platforms including: iTunes, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox, Amazon Instant Video and Vudu.
“This film was too good to not be released. Although it took a while to bring LICKS to the world, the subject matter is even more relevant today and will certainly become the iconic portrayal of the rough underbelly of urban life. There will never be another film like LICKS,” said Richard Signeski Blue Sky Media’s chief executive officer.
“Licks” follows the story of D, a young man who returns to his Oakland neighborhood after serving two years in prison for a robbery gone wrong. In the days after his release, viewers are taken into D’s world while he navigates the harsh realities that plague his urban community. His judgment is tested by the insidious influences around him, forcing D to decide what direction to take his life.
“’Licks’ is an intense 90-minute whirlwind that takes the viewer on a journey to inner-city Oakland and showcases the distressing cycle of violence that grips each character as D attempts to change his path. The last three minutes of this film cannot be missed or ignored as they make a profound statement that will be relatable in some way to every viewer,” said ‘Licks’ writer/director Jonathan Singer-Vine.
“Licks” started in 2010 as a rough script about the lives of several Oakland teens. The characters were based on people and stories Singer-Vine had been exposed to while growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the next two years, Singer-Vine and co-writer Justin “Hongry” Robinson added and subtracted characters and turned those personalities into a cohesive story.
In early 2011, the writers, along with producer Niko Philpides and associate producer Adrian L. Burrell, set out across Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond to scout locations and find actors.
“An incredible fact about ‘Licks’ is that few people involved with this movie have ever made a film before. It was a very ‘rag tag’ crew and in fact, many actors have never acted before. However, even with minimal acting experience, a lot of people made it very personal and some of the most powerful moments in the film just grew organically from the moment and that’s what’s amazing,” said Singer-Vine.
By mid-2011, the team was making progress, but the film still needed a star and co-star. After a few months of casting, they lucked upon brothers Stanley “Doe” Hunt and Koran Streets. Hunt and Streets, who co-star as “D” and “Rell,” had grown up acting in their mother’s West Oakland theater company and were able to combine those skills with their experiences growing up in the East Bay. (Coincidentally, Hunt was shot in the stomach as a teenager, just like the character he portrays. This was one of the many parallels between the film’s characters and the cast’s real lives.)
Shooting on a shoestring budget brought on its share of obstacles. But behind the lens of prodigy cinematographer Rob Witt, “Licks” slowly but surely came together. In early 2012, the film moved into post-production with first-time feature film editor Vinnie Hobbs, who has worked on award-winning music videos by high-profile artists, including Kendrick Lamar and Nicki Minaj, and executive producer (and Singer-Vine’s childhood friend) Colin Tilley.
The film debuted in 2013 at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin and received positive reviews and several awards.
The digital release marks another milestone for the film.
“So many films that take place in inner cities are criticized as ‘watered down’ and ‘corny.’ I believe people were craving authenticity, so that’s what I aimed to capture with this film,” said Singer-Vine.
Look for “Licks” on iTunes, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox, Amazon Instant Video and Vudu.