Shan Nicholson is a Director and Showrunner native to the city of New York, with over a decade of work and experience in the film industry. A common trend that can be noted within Shan’s work includes productions focused on topics like social justice and music. A few of Nicholson’s notable productions include his most recent docu-series Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury, a series that tells the story of how the city of Jerusalem gained its reputation. He also executively produced Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle, a documentary that dives into the tragic Jonestown Massacre. However, many people know Shan for directing in the 2010’s documentary "Rubble Kings."
"Docu-series have kind of exploded in the last um… I would say six, seven years. They’ve really, ya know, they’ve really taken off." Something he considers fantastic because of the opportunities and flexibility it provides storytellers and creatives. “You get to tell these, ya know…these epic stories. Normal documentaries are an hour, hour and a half, right? So now you have this room to be able to dive deep into these stories and explore characters you might not if you had less time." Nicholson voiced that filmmakers are often in search of finding the voice within a character to create a feeling of resonance and authenticity. Thanks to docuseries, they are now able to build this type of atmosphere better than before with traditional documentaries, something that he feels is particularly important to integrate into doc films.
Formerly a DJ in New York, Nicholson would hear about BMF frequently in the clubs that he would work in. "They were in New York City, and you would hear about these guys that would […] throw money, and come in ten, fifteen deep... and the whole place would just go in a frenzy." Thus, the name BMF was not unfamiliar to Shan before onboarding this production. He also elaborated on how the music and record label were also often a point of conversation that many people found intriguing, "but […] there was always sort of rumors behind what the label was... so the myth and the lore of BMF was well known here in New York for sure." Nicholson added. Before taking on the BMF: Blowing Money Fast series, Shan Nicholson only knew about the tip of the BMF iceberg, similar to many. However, he attests that partaking in producing this series, speaking with Demetrius "Meech" Flenory one-on-one, and hearing the "story behind the stories" firsthand from the mouths of family and primary sources has not only increased his knowledge but also opened his eyes.
According to Shan, time was one of the most pressing obstacles production had to overcome. The production of Blowing Money Fast was quite swift. "We completed […] from the very beginning to the final edit, I think it was about eight to nine months, or something like that," which Shan stated was a very condensed production period for an eight-part series. This also made it a bit challenging to build trust with participants who were skeptical about speaking on camera due to the legal nature of the topic, but Shan and his team were able to make it work seamlessly.
Being privileged to experience the first three episodes of the BMF docu-series, it is clear that production was very strategic and intentional with this project. Just before speaking with Demetrius Flenory, viewers can hear an automated message that announces that the current call we are listening to is being made via a federal prison. Knowing that the decision not to omit the automated message was intentional, we asked Shan why it was important to keep it in the series’ final cut. "It was a conscious decision, for sure, to start the series with his voice, but also with that automated message," the Rubbles King director went on to say, "It was something that we debated with in edit, right, because we could’ve, we could’ve cut that away from the audience," but it was important to leave that extra pinch of reality in the film. "So, you understand that […] nobody rides off into the sunset in this story." They also had to be mindful of how they portrayed the story. The director intended to educate viewers and showcase the lives of two brothers fighting to overcome the influences of racism and systematic oppression in their life to achieve better, rather than glorifying the drug game. "But at the end of the day... this is how a lot of drug dealers' stories [end]. It’s either your dead or in jail, and we wanted to put that out right up front […] as a stamp." A decision that will surely give many people a wake-up call about the lifestyle.
We hear a lot from Meech (Demetrius Flenory), one half of the Flenory brothers, throughout the series, so we were curious if we could expect any visual or auditory appearances from Terry Flenory. Unfortunately, Shan confirmed that Terry will not be contributing to this docu-series. Nicholson explained to us that "there was a lot of back and forth […] and sort of legal loopholes that we had to, kind of abide by, so Terry wasn’t able to."
All in all, Shan expressed that this series is a cautionary tale, "along with the glitz and the glamor, there was a lot of pain that, that our characters had to go through and [...] are still going through." Furthermore, adding, "Meech has been in prison I think now for over twenty years, and ya know, Terry as well…This isn’t a story that ends well for most people." However, there is still a positive aspect to this storyline. Shan drew to Demetrius "Lil Meech" Flenory Jr., now being able to portray his father in the television series and tell the story of BMF is almost like the story of "a phoenix rising from the ashes." Hence, he feels that this series will hopefully be a conversation starter for several topics that need more discussion, and if BMF: Blowing Money Fast can aid in initiating these conversations and shifting perspectives, then that is a job well done in Shan’s book.
Written by XBlaze Magazine
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