Dollar Bills Go Flying

At the end of Checkmate, Dallas and Rafi make it rain:

I’d originally wanted to make a movie where people pay for everyday things by making it rain (a mother and child buying groceries, adding to the collection plate at church, the tooth fairy, etc) but in the end, I really just thought it’d be funny to make it rain on a sunday afternoon on a street corner. It wasn’t clear that this scene would make it into Checkmate when we did it. But when I saw video of Dallas chasing that one single down a storm drain, it seemed metaphorically appropriate. I still think a movie about people who make it rain with coins would be a hit.

I like to be prepared before we shoot. The night before we met up, I decided to test out the act of making it rain. Without a handy stripclub, I gathered my singles and attempted to rain dollar bills in my living room. I was trying to answer these hard questions: Do you throw the bills straight up in the air? Do you want to fan them out before you throw them? Should they go all at once or do you save some for a follow-up toss? Do you say the words “make it rain” in a sinister voice when you throw the dollar bills in the air? Or is it better to stay silent and let the cascade of 1s speak for your player status? The answer to these questions is unique to every rainmaker (I like to say “Make it Rain” in a sinister voice and keep my hands extended after throwing the dollar bills straight up in one blast).

But my primary observation about the act of making it rain is that it’s over very quickly. Sure, you might feel fresh for a few seconds. But then gravity asserts itself, leaving you with a hard choice: walk away or scramble on the ground for your flung currency.

The Internets Celebrities choose the latter – as you can see in the extended, uncut, unrated, Make it Rain scene.

Checks In Full Effects…

The e-mail threads go back to September of 2007.

“Let’s make a movie about check cashing joints. They’re as ubiquitous as bodegas and they do as much harm.” – Casimir Nozkowski

“I can relate. Even though I knew it was senseless, when I needed fast cash I used them” – Rafi Kam

“Let’s go in, even though I hate check cashing joints because they remind me that I live in poverty” – Dallas Penn

This is essentially the thread that began the odyssey of our latest video. We wanted to document the economic lifestyle of the people that used check cashing joints. Why do these places even exist? Don’t the people that use them know about banks? Why would anyone pay someone for their OWN money?

I think we answer the questions above a little more clearer. Commercial banks don’t exist in the ‘hood. People with no money to save don’t need them. What they need is a facility that gives them the cash they need to buy their groceries, pay their bills and copp their drugs. Poor people need cash. It keeps them on the economic grid. What is more patriotic than going into debt? Our government has a zillion dollar deficit. If they can do it why shouldn’t the backbone of America also follow suit?

We vacillated on whether check cashing joints were really the devil in disguise. For many of us there are no other optiions. These establishments aren’t here to help poor people gain economic stability. They are here to provide a service and for that service they extract their blood, just like any other service that is contracted to the poverty class. Just be aware of that when you step inside of those doors.

If you enjoyed ‘Bodega’, you will love ‘Check Mate’. Speaking of ‘Bodega’… join the iNTERNETS CELEBRITIES in July for the Paul Robeson Awards of the Newark Black Film Festival. ‘Bodega’ was awarded the judges honorable mention for short form documentaries.

‘Check Mate’ was directed and edited by Casimir Nozkowski
Camera work and graphics from Ian Savage
Even more camera work from Josh Weisbrot
Music by El Keter
A special Chea goes out to Ben Popken(

Rafi Kam and Dallas Penn bring the goodness

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