Written and directed by Timothy A. Chey, “Slamma Jamma” is a story about faith, redemption and slam-dunking. Chey, a very spiritual man, known for his documentary film “The Epic Journey” where he travels around the world uncovering stories of God’s miracles. Here, he infuses a similar sense of ‘hope in the face of adversity’ into the Slamma Jamma script.
Chris Staples plays Michael Diggs
This article does not spoil any plot points that are not also available in the trailer.
The indie film, shot entirely in Los Angeles (so you’ll be able to visit some of your favorite spots like Skid Row and Venice Beach) follows a basketball player, Michael Diggs. Real-life international slam-dunk competitor, Chris Staples plays the character of Diggs in his first-ever acting role.
The film opens with Michael at the height of his college career. Yet instead of forging a high-paying gig in the majors, he unfortunately makes a bad decision. He got caught up with gang members that so commonly roam the streets of Los Angeles. Michael, to his surprise, is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. This forces him to leave his budding career, single mother, brother and girlfriend behind.
Seven years later, Michael gets released from prison and sees that it’s not so easy to start over again. No one wants to touch him because of his criminal record. His girlfriend’s with his money and fame hungry old friend and his mother’s sick. On top of it, the same gang elements have now recruited his younger brother into their fold. Michael eventually finds redemption, hope and God, which all reinvigorate his talent of slam-dunking.
Slamma Jamma’s tone is well-meaning
“Slamma Jamma” is well-meaning at its heart, there’s comedy, some singing and even a cameo with Jose Canseco … if you needed that semi-celeb name you can recognize. But “Slamma Jamma” is heavy on the melodrama in the script. Cue up the violins, over acting and shout outs (think awards show acceptance speeches to God). Chris Staples in his role of Michael Diggs, delivers a pretty good performance (and he’s not bad to look at either!) for his first acting gig. He stated, “I had turned down the role a couple of times due to other commitments, but felt that when they asked a third time and my schedule had miraculously cleared up, I just knew that this was a role I was meant to play.”
Actor and slam-dunk champion, Chris Staples on the red carpet for the film’s Los Angeles première with actress in the film and former Harlem Globetrotter, Tammy Brawner.
The best part about “Slamma Jamma” is the dribble and dunking scenes through out the film. I’m not much of a basketball fan, but the dunking scenes and comedic banter among the other players will appeal to all.
Legendary cinematographer, Dean Cundey of Jurassic Park and Apollo 13 fame, lent his talents to the film stating that, “I’ve worked on big blockbusters and wanted to get the indie film experience again.Being director of photography for an independent film is challenging and creative at the same time. The dedication of this cast drove me to want to do the film.”
With all this said, this is why independent films exist. The director, actors and everyone else can get more experience and work out the bugs to fine-tune their skills and crafts. They can continue to build on what they already know. You could feel the dedication of all involved throughout the film, want to bring it to life.