It all started with a perfectly captioned tweet of an epic picture of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o at Paris Fashion Week 2014.
Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans https://t.co/PhWs1xd3nj
— k (@1800SADGAL) April 18, 2017
Both Rih and Lupita’s heads are turned in the same direction, with Ms. Fenty adorned in a luxurious fur-lined coat with dark shades while Lupita is dressed in Miu Miu, serving high-fashion nerd chic complete with a pair of thick, black-rimmed glasses.
The stage is perfectly set.
HBO On Time short film director Xavier Burgin put his writing skills to work, taking the idea to an ethereal level that none of us knew we so desperately needed. In true Twitter novella form, Xavier ran with the idea of Rih and Lupita teaming up to scam old white men out of their coins by any means necessary.
He even gave it a fancy title — Dusk In California: A Film.
Lupita: "Two rows down.Mr. Fox Welsh.Tall.Handsome.Recently divorced. Net Worth: 600 million"
Rihanna: "…acquired." pic.twitter.com/uX8I7NnWc2
— X (@XLNB) April 21, 2017
Lupita caught wind of the story and says she’s down for the concept if Rihanna is.
— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) April 21, 2017
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 24, 2017
— Issa Rae (@IssaRae) April 23, 2017
Well, say no more because Rihanna is down and so is Issa Rae.
I'm in Pit'z https://t.co/Kz0o3lBEmL
— Rihanna (@rihanna) April 23, 2017
Issa possibility 😳 https://t.co/QrqjSFJ73f
— Rihanna (@rihanna) April 23, 2017
Speaking with DX, Burgin said bringing a Twitter story to the big screen is easier said than done, but he can see two of the biggest, well-known Black entertainers starring in this concept as a feature film. However, a short film wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
“I definitely think this could be done as a larger feature film,” he tells DX over the phone. “It would have to be fleshed out very, very well. Way more than what I did in the Twitter story for the first act, second act, and third act. I think there could be some potential to it. When you think about it, you see white buddy movies, you see the Bad Boys 2 – Black men doing their thing. I don’t think we have actually seen the whole buddy roles, specifically with two Black women. Especially, two really well-known ones. It would be different. It would be interesting. Just off that premise folks would probably check it out. The same way folks are hella excited for Black Panther because they’re getting to see all these amazing people in one film.”
Everything about narrating the tale of Rih and Lupita’s heist was done naturally and off-the-cuff. His brilliant use of gifs to help carry the story entailed searching for the perfect emotions for each character using Google and Twitter’s gif tab. He used a combination of available Rihanna gifs, stills from Lupita filming Star Wars and the best emotive photos of Beauty and the Beast‘s Luke Evans he could find.
As for the music to help narrate the high-tech Thelma and Louise tale, the sounds of The Internet’s Syd is best suited, X suggests. Imagine Bad Gal Ri Ri walking out on Mr. Fox to “Over” in slow motion before sharing one last intimate moment. Didn’t she tell you that she was a savage? Didn’t she tell you?!
“That last album, that solo one that Syd just did, that’s the soundtrack that I would use for this muthafucker,” he says referring to Syd’s Fin. “I love her shit. She’s fucking amazing to me as a singer and just like doing the type of stuff we haven’t seen since the ’90s. I would love to have that be the type of soundtrack to go with this.”
The ending of Burgin’s idea of events is a curious twist that doesn’t target an old, rich white man but a woman dubbed Mrs. Alice. His choice for picking a woman displays both of characters’ ruthlessness to get the cash and get out.
“In my head, I see it as a case of they don’t discriminate in who they scam,” he explains. “They can go from men to women. It’s not just about it’s a woman. It’s about who is the next target that they can pick up. The same way you can see James Bond go from adventure to adventure to adventure, in what they do, I kind of see the same thing for them.”
Burgin often uses Twitter as a tool to connect with fans and the film world. He’s an Alabama graduate who obtained his masters at USC’s Film School and was a semi-finalist for the 43rd Student Academy Awards. His short film On Time can be seen on HBO right now. Additionally, he’s been in talks with the folks over at Comedy Central and FX, who approached him primarily because of his viral written works on Twitter.
“What it has taught me in the digital age at this point and as a creative, whether it be a filmmaker, whether it be a writer or an educator, in many of these fields that allow you to be a creator is you can’t ignore the power of having a following that can get folks interested in you and what you’re doing,” the filmmaker explains. “I say all of that to say, to all those Black creatives out there is that they should really appreciate the necessity of using social media to get themselves out there because it makes a hell of a difference.”
One of his viral tales, “Tina and The Gucci Flip Flops,” raised over $36,000 in funding after the launch of a Kickstarter campaign. In addition to the already coveted comic book version, the story will potentially be turned into animated form.
“One thing that we realized really quickly is that we’ve seen great Black cinema, we’ve seen great Black TV, but there hasn’t been any great Black animated work in a long time,” Burgin explains. “Like, The Boondocks went off in 2014. The Proud Family stopped making new episodes almost a decade ago. If you’re talking about features, we haven’t had a Black animated film since BeBe’s Kids back in ‘94, ‘95.”
Using Twitter has been a godsend for Xavier and he encourages Black millennials to take advantage of the free platform to get their art seen and/or heard.
As for Dusk In California: A Film, we are all dying to see this on the big screen with Rihanna and Lupita. Hopefully, the stars will align to see it through.