There are innumerable statistics on the sex trade industry
and its impact not only on the lives of mostly young and destitute women, but
also the communities – mostly poor ones – that it impacts. Yet among the most
harrowing, especially in its invisibility of victims, is human trafficking.
Filmmaker Michael Pinckney, affectionately known as ‘Boogie’ to
most, aims to tell the stories of these victims in “The Trade,” a new
television pilot he is shopping around to the networks and cable television
through his production company Black Noise Media.
The pilot itself is as dark as its subject matter, focusing
specifically on child trafficking.
The main story follows Dalton (Dan O’Brien), a photojournalist
trying to find his daughter who he suspects has been forced into
prostitution. Upon his arrival to Brooklyn’s
Coney Island, an area that, at least according to this story, is rife with sex
trade activity, Dalton meets Baby Girl, an African-American teen prostitute
being pimped out by the menacing yet flamboyant Tyson (Tobias Truvillon, “The
Tested”). Baby Girl may indeed be his
best source in finding his daughter. Meanwhile, Russian sex traffickers are
rounding up yet another batch of young women of various races to force out on
the street to make them money.
The feel of the entire pilot presentation is rightfully
eerie. Pinckney does an admirable
job in creating a foreboding visual tone complete with high production
values. While parts of the script are
a bit trite, what the director gets out of his actors and environments is
The standout is newcomer Prentiss Marquis, who as Baby Girl
says more with just a look and some seemingly (but obviously not) simple body
language than some better known actors evoke in a ten-year career. Truvillon also stands out early, as does
Shukura as Tyson’s underling Goldie.
While this heavy subject is one that is seeing
an uptick in popular media, the fear is that the over-sexualizing of these
young women being pimpled and trafficked isn’t what will solely attract
potential viewers over the importance of the story. Still, over-sexualization is
the crux of the problem – if there was no demand, there would be no need for a
supply. To paraphrase an old professor of mine, America is a place where sex
can be seen everywhere, but not gotten anywhere. He is correct, for as the
media feeds the public images of what men and women should be attracted to, it
criminalizes the often difficult attainment of it to create an industry where
the world’s oldest profession maintains its foothold to dangerous degrees.
Pinckney himself feels that with the overwhelming statistics
on human trafficking, with his series he just wants, “to make a
“The Trade” is careful in unfolding its story, yet executes
the action quickly. The first
directorial foray of Pinckney and Black Noise into episodic television, the
producers shared that they are currently in their second round of pitches.
Keep a look out here for future news on this show.