In 2019, Lionsgate signed a first-look deal with indie producer, Stephen "Dr" Love. At the time, Love’s producing credits included the 2016 feature The Land, writer-director Steven Caple Jr.’s film about four Cleveland teens who use a stolen drug stash to finance their skateboarding aspirations, which debuted at Sundance. Fast Forward four years, through a pandemic and cultural change efforts throughout Hollywood, the producer was recently premiering his new film, They Clone Tyrone during the latest American Black Film Festival.
They Cloned Tyrone was the festival's opening night film. It didn't take long before word of mouth hit throughout Miami Beach regarding how much the audience enjoyed the upcoming Netflix film. Starring John Boyega, Teyonah Parris and Jamie Foxx (who also serves as producer), They Cloned Tyrone tells the story of an unlikely trio who stumbles upon a government mind control experiment in their neighborhood. As they peel back the layers of this conspiracy, they also delve into the societal implications of redlining, control over food, music, religion, and the importance of maintaining control over one’s own culture.
In our exclusive interview, Love acknowledges that the "streets" are already saying that the film is "fire." The rising producer says that it is "all he needs," keeping up with the central theme of They Cloned Tyrone by recognizing the importance of culture. Unfortunately, our culture continues to be under attack by the hands of law enforcement. It was the arrest of Director Juel Taylor's friend that inspired the story.
After the arrest, Taylor became infatuated with conspiracies while watching his friend try to come out of depression. Sayings such as "the man has it out for me,' pushed the first-time director to unpack what that could actually mean. For Love, getting involved was a no-brainer. He attended USC for grad school and Taylor was a classmate and close friend of his.
"He said to me he has a movie about three people who discover the government is doing experiments in the hood," Love explained. Whereas more fleshed-out information is usually needed to get someone on board your creative project, Love was sold and six months after their entail conversation in the fall of 2017, "a bidding war ensured and we ended up going with Macro."
Selling to Charles D. King's Macro was a full-circle moment for Love. King's first movie as a film financier, The Land, was also Love's first movie as a producer. At the time, Macro was still a small studio and King explained that he would not be competing financially with larger studios. Besides the established relationship with King, what also sold Love was Macro's approach. "We want to give you all the creative control to make the movie you want to make,' Love described his meeting with the Hollywood producer.
Watch our exclusive interview below and learn what it was like for Love to work with Jamie Foxx, his early beginnings in South Carolina, and how music plays a big part in They Cloned Tyrone.
The film hits theaters on July 14 and will stream on Netflix on July 21.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stephen Love