NY'S DIRTY LAUNDRY
Naming the film
You know how inspiration comes in the night and most of the time
when you look at ideas in the light of day, they stand the test. Well
that was not so with our initial inspiration for the name of our little film,
we now call NY's Dirty Laundry.
The working title of the film was, THE LAUNDROMAT. But we always
knew that this would change because the film is made up of two true
stories, only one of which takes place in a laundromat. I always felt
like if I stuck with the name, Laundromat, that it wouldn't really tell the
story of the whole film.
Well one night, it had to be around 2:30 in the morning, my sister
Marsha and I started asking ourselves, "Well if not, 'The Laundromat',
then what? What is the film really about?
We started with the word 'touch'. A touch is exchanged in both
stories. A 'human touch'. We started saying, "yeah, that's a great
name." We left that and arrived at the "sacred touch', then, the
forbidden touch, the forbidden exchange, the sacred exchange. All
of a sudden we felt like we were in the territory of soft porn or those
romance novels that you see advertised on the subway by Jackie
We left that notion and started with the premise that the movie is
located in Canarsie, Brooklyn and the taxi ride, goes from Manhattan
to Brooklyn. Now we got back to the touch being like a bridge. Now
our names were, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Exchange,
Canarsie Exchange, the Brooklyn touch, the Brooklyn/Canarsie
touch. You see where that was going.
Then we got back to the fact that a lot the dialogue exchanged in the
film is hard to listen to at first. We also intended the setting of the
laundromat to be a metaphor, to wash things out. So now, we were at
Brooklyn Wash, the Canarsie Wash etc.
We argued over the fact that the characters go through a kind of war
first, before they find peace. Also, because these were two
households fighting, they were houses of war and peace. Now we felt
we were really on to something. At 3:45 am, the brilliant idea burst
upon us that it would be cool to say that in English, but it would be
better if we said it in Arabic, (since we had Arab-Muslims in the film.)
Now, we felt we struck gold.
My sister had to get up in five hours because it was a work night,so
we went on the Internet quickly and did a search of the Arabic words
for war and peace and at about four am found our translation - Dar
al arb wu salem which meant 'House of War and Peace. We smiled
with satisfaction. Dar al arb wu salem. Yes !!! That's it. That's the
best name for our movie. We must have said it a hundred times. Dar
al arb wu salem, then we went off to bed satisfied.
In the morning, my sister was the first to run our brilliant movie title by
her trusted friends. She said, "What do you think of the title for our
movie, Dar al arb wu salem." She announced it with pride, then
waited for their reply. Her first friend looked at her and laughed then
said, "Are you crazy?!" The second one said, point blank, "What
does it mean and who do you want to come see your film?"
I guess that was a fair question. Did we want people to come see the
movie or did we want the government to cart us off to Guantanamo?
Someone else said, "It's too Arabic. We can't pronounce it. It's too
Middle East. In other words, "THAT'S A DUMB ASS TITLE FOR AN
AMERICAN MOVIE ABOUT 9/11 THAT YOU WANT FOLKS TO COME
OUT AND SUPPORT."
You would have thought, after all that, that we let the title go easily.
No we didn't. We had spent so much creative energy, so much
midnight oil on our title, we couldn't let it die. After all at one point we
thought it was not just 'good' but BRILLIANT. But some ideas are like
that. You look at them in the light of day and you wonder what you
were thinking. They stink. We got back to the drawing board and left
ourselves open, figuring the title of our little movie would reveal itself
when it was ready.
Then one day, out of the blue, my sister called me and said, "I have
the title." She simply said, "Dirty Laundry." I paused. And just like
that, we knew. So we named our little movie, Dirty Laundry.
Everyone told us that it was a great title. Then we had to change it!
Because another film had that exact title. So we added the 'New
York' before it and realized we could live with it.
So that was the birth of NY'S DIRTY LAUNDRY!
Another Interesting Fact.
It took me a year before I could step up to the plate to direct this film.
I knew I wanted to do it but realized that we had even less money
than we had to make first feature, Kings County in the first place but
One night, while I was in Brooklyn, NY, hours before traveling back to
Los Angeles, I went to the local Laundromat to wash my clothes. It
happened to be the laundromat in which the original incident had
happened, closer to 911. The laundromat was owned by an
Arab-muslim man. I happened to be the only customer in the place
and couldn't help but looking around. A new inspiration burst upon
me about directing the film and I remembered God telling me to
boldly ask for what I needed because there were people that were
assigned to say, 'Yes', to me. As I sat there I prayed, "Lord, if the
owner walks in right now, I will ask him to allow me to shoot in the
laundromat for free." Then the door opened and a man came in who
had a key to back door. It was the owner. I couldn't believe. He
nodded to me and I to him. He went in the back, then came out, but
fear and disbelief kept my mouth shut. When the owner left, i could
have kicked myself. I then prayed, "God, if you let him come back in
again, I'll ask him this time." Five seconds later, I kid you not, the
owner came back and this time I pounced. I told him right up front
that I wanted to shoot a film in his place. He looked me up and down
then said, "When?" I told him, in the summer. He said, "OK, get back
to me closer to the time and I can let you use it in the nights."
And just like that, I had my primary location. I was so inspired by his
support, that I went out and started asking people to give me the
other locations I would need 'for free'. I kept asking male friends and
family of mine to ask the owners of the Deli's that they frequented
about my shooting in their spot. It so happened that the same guy
who owned the laundromat also owned the deli at the end of the
block. I asked him about it and he said, "OK, I can let you use it
Saturday, between six and nine in the morning." That was my
second location that I didn't have to set dress. This also became the
time that the call would be for our scenes in the deli.
I was now on a roll.
The other essential location we needed was a NYC taxi cab. One
evening, when my family and I were coming home from seeing,
"Fahrenheit 911", and we got into a cab that was being driven by a
Haitian taxi driver. We were having a rousing discussion about the
film when the cab driver burst in and started giving us his political
views. He and one of my sisters got into it so much that my brother
had to tell him to keep his eyes on the road. This did not calm him
down, in fact the discussion got even more intense to the point where
he turned the meter off because, he didn't want to worry about the
fare. As we were getting out of the cab, my sister told him that she
enjoyed their discussion. We all laughed. It was great to have such
a rousing political discussion and still laugh at the end of it. I started
poking my sister in the back of the cab. She thought I was telling her
to get out faster. I wrote down quickly, 'Ask about his taxi!'
She got right on it. She said,'camera', 'taxi' and he freaked out about
being on camera. He didn't want his political views publicised. We
told him that we just wanted to use his cab. We had someone in
mind to play a cab driver. With that he said, "But, of course. No
problem. My day off is best."
Ask and you shall receive!