Antwone Fisher (2002)

PG-13 | 117 or 120 mins | Biography | 20 December 2002

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Denzel Washington

Writer:

Antwone Fisher

Cinematographer:

Philippe Rousselot

Editor:

Conrad Buff

Production Designer:

Nelson Coates

Production Companies:

Antwone Fisher Productions, Inc., Fox Searchlight Pictures
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Antwone Fisher Story and Finding Fish . The picture was also referred to as The Untitled Antwone Fisher Project or the The Untitled Antwone Fisher Story when production first began. The film’s closing credits begin with a written dedication from screenwriter Antwone Fisher: “In memory of my Father, Edward Elkins, whom I never had the pleasure and the honor to know.” The end credits also contain the following written disclaimer: “Antwone Fisher’s screenplay was inspired by his life. Some of the characters and events depicted in this film are fictional.”
       As depicted in the film, Antwone Fisher was born in 1959 in Cleveland, two months after his father was murdered. [In the film, the character of “Antwone” is born in 1976.] Fisher’s mother, incarcerated at the time of his birth, never claimed him from the orphanage in which he remained for the next two years before being placed into an abusive foster home. After being turned out of his foster home, Fisher spent two years in a boys’s reform school, then was homeless before joining the Navy. Fisher served an eleven-year stint in the Navy before spending three years as a correctional officer. It was while he was then employed as a security guard at Sony Pictures that he sought out and found his real family.
       Inspired by the enthusiastic reaction to his story that he received from several Sony executives, who learned about it because he had to ask for special permission for vacation time to visit his family, Fisher decided to write a screenplay about his life. According to studio publicity and ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Antwone Fisher Story and Finding Fish . The picture was also referred to as The Untitled Antwone Fisher Project or the The Untitled Antwone Fisher Story when production first began. The film’s closing credits begin with a written dedication from screenwriter Antwone Fisher: “In memory of my Father, Edward Elkins, whom I never had the pleasure and the honor to know.” The end credits also contain the following written disclaimer: “Antwone Fisher’s screenplay was inspired by his life. Some of the characters and events depicted in this film are fictional.”
       As depicted in the film, Antwone Fisher was born in 1959 in Cleveland, two months after his father was murdered. [In the film, the character of “Antwone” is born in 1976.] Fisher’s mother, incarcerated at the time of his birth, never claimed him from the orphanage in which he remained for the next two years before being placed into an abusive foster home. After being turned out of his foster home, Fisher spent two years in a boys’s reform school, then was homeless before joining the Navy. Fisher served an eleven-year stint in the Navy before spending three years as a correctional officer. It was while he was then employed as a security guard at Sony Pictures that he sought out and found his real family.
       Inspired by the enthusiastic reaction to his story that he received from several Sony executives, who learned about it because he had to ask for special permission for vacation time to visit his family, Fisher decided to write a screenplay about his life. According to studio publicity and numerous articles, in 1993, Fisher began taking a screenwriting class taught by Chris Smith. Smith, a screenwriter who would eventually make his debut as a producer with Antwone Fisher , introduced Fisher to his former college roommate, Sony producer Todd Black. Impressed by Fisher’s story, Black and his producing partner, Randa Haines, gave Fisher enough money to quit his security guard job and bought him a computer on which to write his screenplay. After working closely with Black for approximately a year, Fisher was able to sell his screenplay to Twentieth Century Fox in Aug 1994. Fisher later used his screenplay as the basis for an autobiographical book, published in 2001 as Finding Fish: A Memoir . The poem recited by “Antwone” in the film, “Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?,” was the title poem in Fisher’s collection of poetry published in Dec 2002.
       According to a 23 Aug 1995 DV article, Haines was considering directing the project at that time, and one of the co-producers was to be Jason Blumenthal, a vice-president at Haines/Black Productions. A 24 Nov 1998 HR “films in preparation” notice also included Blumenthal as a co-producer and listed one of the production companies as Black & Blu Entertainment, which was run by Blumenthal and Black. Blumenthal is not credited onscreen, however.
       In Sep 1996, Var announced that Denzel Washington was in talks to direct the picture but not star in it, with Will Smith being considered for the lead role of Antwone. Several articles about the making of the picture note that Black first approached Washington, who made his feature-film directorial debut with Antwone Fisher , solely about playing “Jerome Davenport.” Washington instead decided that he wanted to direct the project, and it was not until later that he agreed to play the part of Davenport, a fictional composite of several people who helped Fisher. According to a Jan 2003 Premiere article, Washington “auditioned hundreds of young men around the country” for the part of Antwone, and a 20—27 Dec 2002 Entertainment Weekly article notes that in addition to Smith, actors Cuba Gooding, Jr., Mekhi Phifer and Ja Rule were also interested in the role. The article also notes that while Fisher was working at the Sony lot, he made the acquaintance of a young actor, Derek Luke, who worked at the gift shop on the lot. Luke, who had appeared in only two television shows and a bit part in the Spike Lee movie Clockers , auditioned for the role of Antwone several times and before being cast in Aug 2001. Joy Bryant, who plays “Cheryl Smolley,” also played her first major role in a feature film in Antwone Fisher .
       In the ending onscreen credits, the filmmakers thank the Department of Defense and U.S. Navy, along with a number of specific Naval officers and ships, for their cooperation in the picture’s production. In studio publicity and television interviews, Washington credits the Navy’s extensive cooperation with helping him to produce the film on a modest budget of $13 million. Several Naval bases and areas in San Diego, CA were used as location sites, and the main ship used during production was the USS Belleau Wood . Studio publicity reported that in order to “maintain an air of authenticity, nearly all the [N]avy extras that are seen in the film were actually off-duty officers from the bases where the film was shot.” Portions of the picture were also shot in Cleveland, OH, in the real neighborhoods where Fisher grew up, and many members of the community were hired as extras or participated in the production in other ways.
       Antwone Fisher was selected as one of AFI’s top ten films of 2002, and was nominated for an Image Award as Outstanding Motion Picture. Luke received an Independent Spirit Award as Best Male Lead, and his performance was recognized as the Best Breakthrough Performance of an Actor by the National Board of Review. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1994
p. 3, 18.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1998.
---
Daily Variety
6 Apr 2001.
---
Daily Variety
9 Aug 2001
p. 1, 51.
Daily Variety
16 Sep 2002.
---
Daily Variety
17 Sep 2002.
---
Daily Variety
12 Nov 2002.
---
Entertainment Weekly
27 Sep 2002
pp. 34-39.
Entertainment Weekly
20--27 Dec 2002.
pp. 12-16.
Entertainment Weekly
3 Jan 2003
p. 45.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1998.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 2001.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 2002
pp. S1-S3, S6.
Los Angeles Times
23 Aug 1994.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Dec 2001
p. 3, 74.
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 2002.
---
New York Times
19 Dec 2002.
---
Premiere
Jan 2003
pp. 56-59, 91.
Screen International
20 Sep 2002.
---
Variety
23 Sep 1996.
---
Variety
23 Sep 2002.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mundy Lane/Todd Black Production; A Denzel Washington Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir, Cleveland unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op/Steadicam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Cam loader, Cleveland unit
B cam 1st AC
B cam 2d AC
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec, Cleveland unit
Elec, Cleveland unit
Elec, Cleveland unit
Best boy grip
Key rigging grip
Dolly grip
B cam dolly grip
B cam dolly grip, Cleveland unit
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Grip, Cleveland unit
Grip, Cleveland unit
Libra head tech
Libra head op
Technocrane tech
Video asst
Projectionist
Westcam system provided by
[Westcam] op
[Westcam] tech
Lighting and elec equipment supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Storyboard artist
Des dept coord
Art dept asst
Art dept asst, Cleveland unit
Des dept PA
Des dept asst, Cleveland unit
Scenic, Cleveland unit
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Editorial PA
Post prod facilities provided by
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Leadman
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On set dresser
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang, Cleveland unit
Swing gang, Cleveland unit
Swing gang, Cleveland unit
Swing gang, Cleveland unit
Swing gang, Cleveland unit
Swing gang, Cleveland unit
Prop master
Asst prop master
2d asst props
Asst props, Cleveland unit
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Const coord
Const foreman, Cleveland unit
Gen foreman
Const gang boss
Const buyer
Labor foreman
Gangboss
Plasterer foreman
Plasterer foreman
Lead painter
Standby painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter, Cleveland unit
Utility painter, Cleveland unit
Paint foreman, Cleveland unit
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Plasterer
Carpenter, Cleveland unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Mr. Washington's cost
Set cost
Set cost
Ward, Cleveland unit
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score orch & cond
Scoring contractor
Mus preparation by
Score rec and mixed by
Mus programmer
Asst to comp
Orch rec at
Orch rec at
Score mixed at
The Newman Scoring Stage crew:
Recordist
2d eng
Asst eng
Asst eng
Stage crew
Stage crew
Acoustic guitar
Elec guitar
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan
Gamelan rec
at CBC Toronto
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom person
Cable person
Sd cable utility, Cleveland unit
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
Recordist
Re-rec eng
ADR recordist
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff coord
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Addl makeup
Addl makeup
Addl makeup
Addl makeup
Addl makeup, Cleveland unit
Addl makeup, Cleveland unit
Key hair stylist
Hairstylist
Addl hair
Addl hair
Addl hair
Addl hair, Cleveland unit
Addl hair, Cleveland unit
Makeup supplied by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Cleveland casting
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Extras casting
Voice casting
Casting PA, Cleveland unit
Casting PA, Cleveland unit
Casting PA, Cleveland unit
Casting PA, Cleveland unit
Unit prod mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Asst loc, Cleveland unit
Asst loc, Cleveland unit
Navy coord
Loc PA, Cleveland unit
Loc PA, Cleveland unit
Loc PA, Cleveland unit
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord, Cleveland unit
Clearance coord
Prod accountant
Scr supv
Exec asst to Mr. Black
On set asst to Mr. Black
Exec asst to Mr. Washington
Mr. Washington's personal security
Mr. Washington's driver
Asst to Mr. Washington, Cleveland unit
Prod secy
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office PA, Cleveland unit
Office PA, Cleveland unit
Key set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set PA, Cleveland unit
Set PA, Cleveland unit
Set PA, Cleveland unit
Film runner
Film runner
1st asst accountant
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Payroll accountant
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation asst
Craft services
Craft services
Craft services, Cleveland unit
Craft services, Cleveland unit
Medic
Medic, Cleveland unit
Entomology consultant
Psychiatric tech adv
Travel coord, Cleveland unit
Children's tutoring provided by
Teacher, Cleveland unit
Teacher, Cleveland unit
Teacher, Cleveland unit
Aerolite balloons provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Marine Corps Jody" and "Miss Mary Mack," traditional.
SONGS
"Laguna Sunrise," written and performed by Billy Martin, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/MasterSource
"The Humpty Dance," written by Gregory Jacobs, George Clinton, Jr., Bootsy Collins and Walter Morrison, Jr., performed by Digital Underground, courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"La Vida es un Carnaval," written by Victor Daniel, performed by Celia Cruz, courtesy of Universal Music Latino, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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SONGS
"Laguna Sunrise," written and performed by Billy Martin, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/MasterSource
"The Humpty Dance," written by Gregory Jacobs, George Clinton, Jr., Bootsy Collins and Walter Morrison, Jr., performed by Digital Underground, courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"La Vida es un Carnaval," written by Victor Daniel, performed by Celia Cruz, courtesy of Universal Music Latino, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Jumpi," written by Bruno Garcia, Pierre Luc Jamain, Livan Nunez, Vincent Jogerst and Simon Andrieux, performed by Sergent Garcia, courtesy of Labels/Virgin France S.A. under exclusive license to Higher Octave World, a division of Higher Octave Music, Inc., under license from EMI Film & TV Music
"The World Is Yours," written by Nasir Jones and Peter Phillips, performed by Nas, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.
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DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Finding Fish
The Antwone Fisher Story
Release Date:
20 December 2002
Premiere Information:
World premiere at the Toronto Film Festival: 12 September 2002
Los Angeles opening at the AFI Fest: 7 November 2002
Production Date:
began 3 October 2001
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
30 December 2002
Copyright Number:
PA0001084767
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby in selected theatres
Color
DeLuxe
gauge
35mm
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision with remote cranes and heads from Panavision Remote Systems
Lenses/Prints
Kodak Motion Picture Film
Duration(in mins):
117 or 120
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
39019
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Twenty-four-year-old Antwone Fisher, stationed at the Naval base in Coronado, California, often loses his temper and fights with his fellow seamen. After his latest brawl, the African-American Antwone defends himself by stating that his opponent made a racial slur, but is still sentenced to reduced pay and a demotion, and is also ordered to be evaluated at the Naval psychiatric facility. Antwone reluctantly sees psychiatrist Commander Jerome Davenport, who is bemused by the dichotomy between Antwone’s belligerence and shyness. Intrigued by Antwone’s statement that he is “from under a rock,” Davenport orders him to return the following week. Taking advantage of his liberty from the ship, Antwone goes to the base exchange to see Cheryl Smolley, a fellow Naval recruit with whom he is smitten. Despite her own shyness, Cheryl attempts to tease Antwone into a conversation, but the tongue-tied young man leaves quickly. Two weeks later, Davenport has Antwone forcibly brought to his office, as he had not reported for their meeting. Davenport explains to the angry seaman that he has only three sessions in which to evaluate him and make a recommendation to his commanding officer, who wants Antwone dismissed from the Navy. Declaring that there is nothing wrong with him, Antwone refuses to talk, and so Davenport orders him to attend weekly sessions until he does. For several weeks, Antwone sits in silence while Davenport catches up on his paperwork. Finally, Antwone begins to speak, soon revealing that he never knew his father, who was murdered two months before he was born. His mother was in prison when he was born, and Antwone was put in an orphanage for two years. Eventually, Antwone was placed in ... +


Twenty-four-year-old Antwone Fisher, stationed at the Naval base in Coronado, California, often loses his temper and fights with his fellow seamen. After his latest brawl, the African-American Antwone defends himself by stating that his opponent made a racial slur, but is still sentenced to reduced pay and a demotion, and is also ordered to be evaluated at the Naval psychiatric facility. Antwone reluctantly sees psychiatrist Commander Jerome Davenport, who is bemused by the dichotomy between Antwone’s belligerence and shyness. Intrigued by Antwone’s statement that he is “from under a rock,” Davenport orders him to return the following week. Taking advantage of his liberty from the ship, Antwone goes to the base exchange to see Cheryl Smolley, a fellow Naval recruit with whom he is smitten. Despite her own shyness, Cheryl attempts to tease Antwone into a conversation, but the tongue-tied young man leaves quickly. Two weeks later, Davenport has Antwone forcibly brought to his office, as he had not reported for their meeting. Davenport explains to the angry seaman that he has only three sessions in which to evaluate him and make a recommendation to his commanding officer, who wants Antwone dismissed from the Navy. Declaring that there is nothing wrong with him, Antwone refuses to talk, and so Davenport orders him to attend weekly sessions until he does. For several weeks, Antwone sits in silence while Davenport catches up on his paperwork. Finally, Antwone begins to speak, soon revealing that he never knew his father, who was murdered two months before he was born. His mother was in prison when he was born, and Antwone was put in an orphanage for two years. Eventually, Antwone was placed in the Cleveland foster home of Reverend and Mrs. Tate, an older African-American couple who also fostered young Dwight and Keith, who was favored because he was half white. Antwone describes the incessant physical and emotional abuse heaped upon the children by Mrs. Tate, who called them “nigger” so often that they could tell which child she was calling by how she said the word. Antwone cannot control the pain in his voice upon describing how Mrs. Tate bragged about beating him unconscious when he was eight years old, and Davenport begins to sympathize with his patient. During their next session, Antwone tells Davenport about his best friend Jesse, a devil-may-care boy whom Mrs. Tate detested. One day, when Jesse came to call for Antwone, Mrs. Tate began to berate Antwone, but the by then teenaged boy, unable to endure her tyranny, grabbed the shoe with which she was beating him, and she threw him out. Hoping to help Antwone understand the Tates’s ambiguous feelings about their own race, Davenport gives him a book about slavery, explaining how generations of African-American slaves passed on to their children the poor treatment they had received from their masters. Despite his initial skepticism, Antwone finds himself responding to Davenport’s gentle questioning and so is distraught at the end of their third session, when Davenport states that he can no longer see him, although he will recommend that Antwone be allowed to remain in the Navy. Overwhelmed by the release of feelings he had kept locked inside, Antwone begins fighting again, and one day, shows up at Davenport’s office, where he yells at the waiting patients. Drawn to helping Antwone, Davenport offers to see him on his own time, and they begin their sessions again. Antwone is amazed one afternoon when Cheryl asks him out, and after receiving encouragement from Davenport, has a successful first date with her. Thrilled that Cheryl kissed him, Antwone dashes to Davenport’s house to tell him, and the commander’s wife Berta, with whom Davenport has a strained relationship, caustically tells her husband not to cure the young man of his enthusiasm. All goes well for Antwone until his ship makes a routine tour of Mexico, where one night, he and his buddies visit a nightclub. There, Antwone’s frequent tormentor, Grayson, taunts him for not wanting to dance, implying that he is either a virgin or a homosexual. After the ensuing brawl, Antwone is returned to Coronado, where Davenport questions him in the brig. Antwone confides that he is a virgin, then reveals that as a young child, he was repeatedly sexually molested by Nadine, a predatory older girl also staying with the Tates. Later, Antwone stops by the Davenport home to see the commander and charms Berta with his honesty and politeness. Berta insists that Antwone attend their Thanksgiving dinner, at which Antwone experiences his first family holiday. In gratitude Antwone gives Davenport a moving poem, “Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?”, and a deeply touched Berta realizes how much Antwone means to her husband. Soon after, however, Davenport is forced to tell Antwone that it is time for him to move on, as he must now take charge of his recovery himself. An infuriated Antwone lashes out, yelling that everyone in his life has abandoned him, even Jesse, and reveals to Davenport that rather than simply losing touch with Jesse, as he had said earlier, he was an innocent bystander when Jesse was shot while robbing a convenience store. After finally being able to admit his anger toward Jesse, Antwone realizes that Davenport is also right about his need to find his real family. Asking Cheryl to accompany him, Antwone returns to Cleveland, but receives little help from social services. Cheryl then encourages Antwone to question Mrs. Tate. Antwone goes to the Tate home, where he castigates Nadine and Mrs. Tate for their abuse, then defiantly declares that he is still standing strong. After Mrs. Tate tells Antwone that his father’s name was Edward Elkins, Antwone and Cheryl begin calling all the Elkinses in the Cleveland phone book. Late that night, a confused Annette Elkins receives a call from Antwone, and after he relates his story, tearfully tells him that she may be his "auntie." The next morning, Antwone and Cheryl go to Annette’s home, and there meet her, his uncle James and another uncle, none of whom knew of his existence. James realizes that Antwone’s mother is Eva Mae Fisher, the sister of a friend, and takes him to meet her. Antwone is dismayed by his mother’s tenement home, while she is too overwhelmed by his sudden appearance to speak. Antwone tells her that he is a good man, of many accomplishments, and after kissing her on the cheek, leaves with forgiveness in his heart. Upon his arrival back at the Elkins home, Antwone is stunned to be proudly welcomed by his many relatives, who have prepared a feast for him. When he returns to Coronado, Antwone cheerfully informs Davenport that he is not a virgin any longer, and tells him that he was right about seeking out his family. In turn, Davenport relates that when he and his wife discovered they could not have children, he obtained the best psychiatric help for Berta, but he shut down emotionally. It was not until Antwone entered his life that Davenport came alive again, and the commander thanks Antwone, his surrogate son, for helping him become a better doctor and husband. +

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