In his feature debut, director-screenwriter Jake Fay delivers The process, which follows a young man from a Boston suburb who dreams of being a rap star. Sindile (Jason Gervacio) wants to move beyond the blue-collar trappings of his grimy hometown of Lynn, Massachusetts, and achieve recognition, fame, and fortune in the world of rap performance. To that end, Sindile teams up with her best friends Winston (Adam Lawn) and Brian (Marvin St-Jean) to try and achieve her goals.
Their main problem is to finance their dream. Winston makes money in his first job as an electrician’s assistant, but the other two generate no income. Sindile decides to deal drugs on the side to help fund his ambitions, but experiences major setbacks when he is thrown onto the streets, and tragedy cuts his sideways turmoil dramatically.
During a recording session in Boston, Sindile, Winston and Brian hear about a contest that awards a first place to the famous rapper Nas. Sindile seizes this contest as her first big move and decides to win. His ambition and frustration drive him to push himself and his friends to extremes as he strives to achieve what may, in the end, be an impractical view of how to succeed. As Sindile learns by facing repeated challenges on his hopeful road to stardom, there is a lot of hard work needed to achieve such goals, and he has a lot to do to grow. He begins to see that there is a structured series of levels to take on and that this has as much to do with learning about life as it does about the industry. Sindile also begins to see the value of her hometown, family and friends as part of maturing towards more realistic expectations.
“…to reach beyond…his grimy hometown of Lynn, Massachusetts, and achieve recognition, fame, and fortune in the world of rap performance.”
The process reflects the classic trope of rags-to-riches ambition. Rap-specific, the film is reminiscent of Eminem’s semi-autobiographical film 8 milesor Straight outta Compton. More generally and going back even further, dreams of ditching working-class life for stardom have been told in the likes of lightning dance. These are uniquely urban American ambitions, and the story takes on a different flavor for each generation and each city as it unfolds.
Gervacio, Lawn and St-Jean portray the three friends with tremendous heart and energy. Their sibling relationship is the engine that solidly grounds the heart and soul of the film, making it a great experience. Handheld camera work and ambient lighting, combined with naturalistic performances, give the film a gritty, authentic vibe of truth that works. Plus, the urban soundtrack features rap in a hip-hop vein, with performances that erupt from the streets like vapor.
Jake Fay has previously worked in television and film as a writer, cinematographer and before that as a crew member on various productions. His experience shines through, although this is his first feature film. As a result, he is able to give The process a professional polish and appeal that many early independent films lack.