Almost one year after America erupted into nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd, the life of another Black man — Daunte Wright — has been taken by a uniformed officer. The problem of violence against Black people does not simply stem from missteps in policy, but rather is one rooted in an inability to recognize the humanity of Black people. A new film titled “Negative Exposure” attempts to tackle this issue by reversing the roles of the oppressor and the oppressed and giving new weight to the often asked question, “How would you feel if it were your son?”
“I feel like the movie is divine. It’s providential. It’s the right movie for the right time,” filmmaker and executive producer Bishop E. Warren Davis told WeBuyBlack. “The intent of the movie is to leave you saying, ‘Wow, I’ve never thought about it like this.’”
Amid a familiar backdrop of social injustice and racial tension, “Negative Exposure” tells the story of Jayson Gresham, a white man trapped in a cycle of poverty and oppression. Jayson finds himself facing daily incidents of police brutality and harassment from Black police officers, despite his attempts to advance his life and provide a better life for his daughter. As he tries to improve his situation, confrontations with the privileged son of a Black pastor, stand in his way and threaten his freedom. Davis stars in the movie as the pastor and says the movie is rooted in faith, and has a message for people on both sides of the racial divide.
“It’s a mind bend. The ending is not predictable. Most people will want to watch it twice,” he said.
The idea for the film came to Davis nearly 10 years ago after the death of slain teen Trayvon Martin, yet “Negative Exposure” is unfortunately still an extremely timely and relevant film for today. Production for the film wrapped just days before COVID-19 shut the country down and the film was edited in the summer of 2020, as protests for George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery rocked the country.
“One thing I was surprised to experience at that time was the lack of empathy. How a majority of the community just couldn’t identify and how the community just bought into the propaganda and didn’t realize that this was a kid?” he said, speaking of the Trayvon Martin case. “It’s kind of hard when you see this movie to come away with hatred. If you’re wrong and you want to be right, this movie is going to bring a lot of stuff out of you.”
In addition to changing hearts and minds, Davis hopes that his film will lead to legislative change in the real world — and he’s already starting to see that vision come to fruition. A fictional bill that Davis wrote into the film was adopted as a resolution by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
“This is one of those rare times when entertainment influences activism,” Davis remarked. “The movie pulls everybody to the center. The idea is simple: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”