By Shannon Belt, IT Intern
The vibe was just right. Music bumping, the boisterous sound of chatter filled the outside section of Baron Davis’s movie premiere of “Domino: Battle of the Bones.” His debut as both an actor and director, this get-together was not only a celebration of a finished project but a full-circle moment for Davis as a former NBA star turned entrepreneur.
The creative outlet was always in the cards for Davis. Born in the whelm of creativity of South Central Los Angeles, the set up of the premiere was no less than that. Actors, media, stars and any other people who found themselves invited to the premiere saw the walls surrounded with street-style art. Written in graffiti font, three out of four of Davis’s businesses lined the walls all with the theme of SoCal: palm trees, sunsets and of course basketball. Some of the stars of the movie who were in attendance were David Arquette, Nathan Dana who played Andy, Megan Sousa who played DJ Dominos, Jahdai Pickett, Anthony McKinley also known as “Scruncho” and many others.
You turn to the left and you enter the movie. While it might sound like an exaggeration, the same location of the premiere is the same place many of the scenes in the movie took place. Dominos were scattered all around the SLiC studio which served as a film set. Across from the outdoor patio section as you enter the studio your first stop is Tenspeed’s room. Enclosed with beaded curtains, Tenspeed’s room was filled with all of his essentials: skates, a handheld mirror, a pick comb, and of course a hefty collection of dominos. This was one of three other themed rooms that could be seen during the premiere. In the other rooms, you could watch the movie accompanied with the same snacks as the movie theaters with a domino-themed twist to every box of candy.
That kind of realism made the movie feel even more relatable. Relatability was a strong point behind this movie which focused on the developing bond between grandfather and step-grandson as they battled the greatest domino players in Compton. The ability to bring together two vastly different characters is an art that only comes with the competition of sports and games. From Lou Betaty Jr., who played Gerald, a fallen domino champion to Andy a socially awkward domino genius, or even Tenspeed who was played by Scruncho and based on a real person, a local domino star willing to do and say anything to win the tournament. Davis’s film was able to show the various people within the area he grew up in who have a commonality in this tile-based game.
The meaning of this comedy-filled movie doesn’t stop at the coming together feeling that comes with playing dominos. It is a movie that tells a story about Compton with local talent out of Compton. This was something that Davis made a point to do in his work making sure that everything stayed within the family of South Central, Los Angeles. From rapper and Long Beach native Snoop Dogg, who played Professor Dominologist, to Pickett who played Slams, a local gang member and long-time domino player the movie was filled with homegrown stars.
“Big Slams, his original character you know is from the skit he did and I was like ‘yo can we run with that?’” Davis shared during the Q&A portion of the movie premiere. “I watched these guys on Instagram because I don’t really watch TV. But they’re homegrown, they’re from LA, Scruncho is from LA and these dudes are the next up and coming comedians and actors.”
Around 70 to 80 of the guests stayed to hear more from Davis and the other major contributors to the movie. Hearing and even seeing by way of the studio setup helped clearly show the mindset behind the project and what it means for the community. Dominos: Battle of the Bones made its way to the theatres on June 11 all across the country. While everyone who sees the film may not be a domino legend like Slams or Tenspeed, they will be able to walk away with a fresh set of eyes on South Central Los Angeles and a newfound urge to slap some bones.
“Shoutout to all the actors, shoutout to all the crew, everybody came prepared and everybody came professional,” Davis said in his closing remarks. “We stuck to it and I really believe in these people, just within these walls we shot so many scenes and now we do some of the same events here. It’s kind of cool to have this ghetto domino experience, it’s a family affair.”