Introducing, the Juke Joint Project with the man behind the concept Christopher Morton!
The Juke Joint Project…share with us the concept behind it.
Juke Joint is a multimedia project that showcases the talents of our contributors and present them in a new and entertaining format: the photographic novel or “photovel” as I like to call it. Essentially, we are merging two separate genres of popular culture: fashion and comic books and bringing them together through this project. Ironically, I believe these genres share similarities. In comics, you have attractive characters in great physical condition wearing colorful and stylish attire. And in fashion, models on the runway or photo set are required to be expressive in their facial expressions and body gestures to best display the concept they’re representing. In other words, they take on an alter ego. So now, we are completing photo shoots not just to showcase the fashions, hair and makeup but also mimic the actions of an original storyline. So essentially, we’ve created a fictional world that is constantly expanding and evolving. As of today, we’ve been fortunate to feature not just wardrobe from the House of LeMond but Five13 Studio has provided many of the women’s fashions that you’ll see in Juke Joint Project.
It’s incredible the people that you’ve gathered to capture this concept from behind the lens. How did that occur?
The Juke Joint Project initially started out as your normal fashion photo shoot. In 2013, I approached LeMond Hart, owner of the House of LeMond (a Charlotte-based men’s boutique) about doing a shoot featuring some of his merchandise. One of the things that LeMond specialize in is vintage apparel, similar to the Harlem Nights, Untouchables style. This was going to be the focus of the photo shoot. As a photographer, I try to add a creative flair to the projects I’m involved in whenever I can. And as a lover of action movies and comic books, I thought this would be a great way to capture some amazing images resembling the old-style gangster movies. With that thought in mind, I started coming up with props that I wanted to incorporate into the shoot: tommy guns, poker chips, etc. Once we had props, I came up with the character types to use them and then gave those characters descriptive names. LeMond and I knew a lot of the same models here in Charlotte and started sharing the ideal to see if they were interested in taking part with the shoot. For the most part, they all agreed. The issue we were having was scheduling. Many were in the midst of other endeavors so it was hard setting up shoot dates. Fast forward to early 2014, LeMond and I stayed in contact about the shoot concept and how to bring it to reality. One day I was joking with LeMond and said if we don’t shoot soon, I’m going to write an entire story. That sparked something in me and a few weeks later, I created the project logo and the first draft of Juke Joint was written.
And the names of the characters…tell us, did they pick them? How do they connect with the characters they portray?
97% of the names, I had already selected and assigned to the characters. The remaining 3% were either chosen by the models from a list of possibilities I provided or they gave me a name suggestion and if I thought it would fit the character, we would use it. The names are very important to this project because I wanted to make sure that they could be descriptive of the character’s personality or occupation.
This project has evolved even more with an upcoming soundtrack?
Yes and this is as equally exciting. The main function of Juke Joint besides being entertaining is to be utilized as a promotional vehicle for some amazing local talent. I’ve been very blessed to have come into contact with individuals who are amazing at what they do. That being said, Soule Jukebox has come on board to help produce the musical component of the project. The ideal of the soundtrack is to provide another avenue to bring attention to the overall Juke Joint brand. People who are fans of music will learn about the photographic novel and vice versa. My hope is to use as many mediums as possible to highlight those involved in the projects and possibly put them in position for other opportunities in their own endeavors.
So what can we expect next from the Juke Joint Project? Where will this story captured on lens go?
With Juke Joint, the initial story is still in development since it is so complex with multiple characters and intersecting story lines. In the meanwhile, we’re working on shorter stories (prequels, sequels, tie-ins) with smaller cast numbers. This will help keep fans engaged while the original story is being completed as well as provides an opportunity to bring in additional cast/crew members, wardrobe providers, etc. These stories will usually include at least one member of the original cast to keep everything connected. Fans can stay up to date with our progress via our Facebook page: Juke Joint Project and #jukejointproject on Instagram. They can also view our trailers and videos on my YouTube station: Channel CMJ. Beyond Juke Joint, I would to collaborate with other writers, photographers, models, etc. to launch a new comic line that will tell other types of stories utilizing the concept of the photographic novel.