November 25, 2020

Webster film graduate electrifies St. Louis with short film stardom

Maalik Shakoor is a Webster 2018 graduate who is paving his way into the film industry through superheroes. He will be starring in a short film Static Shock at the Tivoli Theater in late September.

Shakoor has always had the aspiration of being an actor but said he was so behind in reading, he did not believe he would be able to read a whole script, let alone memorize it.

“As I got older it just kind of found me,” Shakoor said. “I’ve been with it ever since high school. I’ve acted at almost every professional theater in St. Louis, did my own film projects and acted in almost 40+ short films at this point. I’ve just been hustling ever since.”

Dave Kerkman is the director of Static Shock. The film, Kirkman said, is already gaining quite a bit of traction in the film community.

“I remember day one when I met [Kirkman] we were just talking about the big picture,” Shakoor said. “I want to be known as an all time great.”

Kirkman shared many of the same sentiments as Shakoor. When recalling their first encounter with each other, Kirkman said he wanted Shakoor to star in one of Kirkman’s films. Kirkman said they hit it off right away.

“It’s crazy, I was actually going to Webster at the time in 2014 and [Shakoor] was getting ready to come to Webster when he sent his resume,” Kirkman said.

Kirkman recalls joking about making the film Static Shock and doing it as a break after filming Gonzo, another film featuring Shakoor. The script for Static Shock took about a month to complete.

Kirkman said he did research before writing the script. He said he read the comic books, searched online and watched YouTube videos before making the decision to have the script more closely reflect the comic book series. As many renditions done before have leaned more towards the television series, Kirkman said he made the decision because he wanted his take on the series to stand out.

Shakoor recalls Kirkman expressing desire to film Static Shock, years before the idea hit paper. The original plan for Static Shock was to wait for the right person to come along to help budget the film. Once the time came and they felt ready to make the film, Kirkman and Shakoor did it – despite not having a large outside contributor.

Although making this film is very important to Shakoor, he said it did not come without a price. Much of the budget for the film came out of pocket from not only Shakoor but other the other producers of Static Shock. Outside donations helped the production as well.

Static Shock sold out at the Tivoli Theater within the first day of sales, but tickets were free to moviegoers. Neither Shakoor nor Kirkman received any money from the sales of this event. Shakoor said even though he did not gain money from the ticket sales he did this film because he is so passionate about Static Shock.

Inspirations

Static Shock is an African-American superhero that Shakoor admires. Shakoor said since there is not much diversity in the superhero world, the African-American community holds onto the character tightly.

Shakoor expressed interest in this character the moment Kirkman mentioned his desire to create the film because Static Shock is one of the most notable African-American superheroes. He said his goal is not just to become famous like many other aspiring stars, but to give a voice to the African-American community.

“As a black man it’s only right that I use my scope to project the struggles in our community,” explained Shakoor.

Shakoor said he draws creative inspiration from multiple different directors and screenwriters such as Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Charlie Cuffman.

“My stories have the backbone structure of Charlie Cuffman, a message of Spike Lee and the dialogue and entertainment of Quentin Tarantino,” Shakoor said. “My shooting style is Wes Anderson meets Spike Lee.”

Shakoor said he feels it is important for him to distinguish between himself and his character. He said he believes in the power of positivity. He said he feels it is essential to put your mind to something and then see it through – even when it gets difficult.

Although Shakoor enjoys acting, he said he does not want to be in front of the camera forever He said his favorite part of the film industry is writing, directing and producing.

“With my personality, people always say “you must enjoy the spotlight” but not really. I already know the pressure of fame, if it comes, is going to be a lot on me and I keep to myself a lot,” Shakoor said. “All you have to do is keep doing the best you can and keep up the grind.”

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