Antwone Fisher


1h 57m 2002

Brief Synopsis

Based on a true story, a biographical drama centering upon Antwone "Fish" Fisher who--once a Sony Pictures security guard--eventually gained fame as an acclaimed writer and a Hollywood producer. In the earlier part of his life, he was a sailor prone to violent outbursts. On the verge of being kicked

Film Details

Also Known As
Finding Fish, The Antwone Fisher Story
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Dec 20, 2002
Premiere Information
World premiere at the Toronto Film Festival: 12 Sep 2002; Los Angeles opening at the AFI Fest: 7 Nov 2002
Production Company
Antwone Fisher Productions, Inc.; Fox Searchlight Pictures
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Country
United States
Location
San Diego, California, USA; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland, Ohio, United States; San Diego, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m

Synopsis

Twenty-four-year-old Antwone Fisher, stationed at the Naval base in Coronado, California, often loses his temper and fights with his fellow seamen. After his latest brawl, the African-American Antwone defends himself by stating that his opponent made a racial slur, but is still sentenced to reduced pay and a demotion, and is also ordered to be evaluated at the Naval psychiatric facility. Antwone reluctantly sees psychiatrist Commander Jerome Davenport, who is bemused by the dichotomy between Antwone's belligerence and shyness. Intrigued by Antwone's statement that he is "from under a rock," Davenport orders him to return the following week. Taking advantage of his liberty from the ship, Antwone goes to the base exchange to see Cheryl Smolley, a fellow Naval recruit with whom he is smitten. Despite her own shyness, Cheryl attempts to tease Antwone into a conversation, but the tongue-tied young man leaves quickly. Two weeks later, Davenport has Antwone forcibly brought to his office, as he had not reported for their meeting. Davenport explains to the angry seaman that he has only three sessions in which to evaluate him and make a recommendation to his commanding officer, who wants Antwone dismissed from the Navy. Declaring that there is nothing wrong with him, Antwone refuses to talk, and so Davenport orders him to attend weekly sessions until he does. For several weeks, Antwone sits in silence while Davenport catches up on his paperwork. Finally, Antwone begins to speak, soon revealing that he never knew his father, who was murdered two months before he was born. His mother was in prison when he was born, and Antwone was put in an orphanage for two years. Eventually, Antwone was placed in the Cleveland foster home of Reverend and Mrs. Tate, an older African-American couple who also fostered young Dwight and Keith, who was favored because he was half white. Antwone describes the incessant physical and emotional abuse heaped upon the children by Mrs. Tate, who called them "nigger" so often that they could tell which child she was calling by how she said the word. Antwone cannot control the pain in his voice upon describing how Mrs. Tate bragged about beating him unconscious when he was eight years old, and Davenport begins to sympathize with his patient. During their next session, Antwone tells Davenport about his best friend Jesse, a devil-may-care boy whom Mrs. Tate detested. One day, when Jesse came to call for Antwone, Mrs. Tate began to berate Antwone, but the by then teenaged boy, unable to endure her tyranny, grabbed the shoe with which she was beating him, and she threw him out. Hoping to help Antwone understand the Tates's ambiguous feelings about their own race, Davenport gives him a book about slavery, explaining how generations of African-American slaves passed on to their children the poor treatment they had received from their masters. Despite his initial skepticism, Antwone finds himself responding to Davenport's gentle questioning and so is distraught at the end of their third session, when Davenport states that he can no longer see him, although he will recommend that Antwone be allowed to remain in the Navy. Overwhelmed by the release of feelings he had kept locked inside, Antwone begins fighting again, and one day, shows up at Davenport's office, where he yells at the waiting patients. Drawn to helping Antwone, Davenport offers to see him on his own time, and they begin their sessions again. Antwone is amazed one afternoon when Cheryl asks him out, and after receiving encouragement from Davenport, has a successful first date with her. Thrilled that Cheryl kissed him, Antwone dashes to Davenport's house to tell him, and the commander's wife Berta, with whom Davenport has a strained relationship, caustically tells her husband not to cure the young man of his enthusiasm. All goes well for Antwone until his ship makes a routine tour of Mexico, where one night, he and his buddies visit a nightclub. There, Antwone's frequent tormentor, Grayson, taunts him for not wanting to dance, implying that he is either a virgin or a homosexual. After the ensuing brawl, Antwone is returned to Coronado, where Davenport questions him in the brig. Antwone confides that he is a virgin, then reveals that as a young child, he was repeatedly sexually molested by Nadine, a predatory older girl also staying with the Tates. Later, Antwone stops by the Davenport home to see the commander and charms Berta with his honesty and politeness. Berta insists that Antwone attend their Thanksgiving dinner, at which Antwone experiences his first family holiday. In gratitude Antwone gives Davenport a moving poem, "Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?", and a deeply touched Berta realizes how much Antwone means to her husband. Soon after, however, Davenport is forced to tell Antwone that it is time for him to move on, as he must now take charge of his recovery himself. An infuriated Antwone lashes out, yelling that everyone in his life has abandoned him, even Jesse, and reveals to Davenport that rather than simply losing touch with Jesse, as he had said earlier, he was an innocent bystander when Jesse was shot while robbing a convenience store. After finally being able to admit his anger toward Jesse, Antwone realizes that Davenport is also right about his need to find his real family. Asking Cheryl to accompany him, Antwone returns to Cleveland, but receives little help from social services. Cheryl then encourages Antwone to question Mrs. Tate. Antwone goes to the Tate home, where he castigates Nadine and Mrs. Tate for their abuse, then defiantly declares that he is still standing strong. After Mrs. Tate tells Antwone that his father's name was Edward Elkins, Antwone and Cheryl begin calling all the Elkinses in the Cleveland phone book. Late that night, a confused Annette Elkins receives a call from Antwone, and after he relates his story, tearfully tells him that she may be his "auntie." The next morning, Antwone and Cheryl go to Annette's home, and there meet her, his uncle James and another uncle, none of whom knew of his existence. James realizes that Antwone's mother is Eva Mae Fisher, the sister of a friend, and takes him to meet her. Antwone is dismayed by his mother's tenement home, while she is too overwhelmed by his sudden appearance to speak. Antwone tells her that he is a good man, of many accomplishments, and after kissing her on the cheek, leaves with forgiveness in his heart. Upon his arrival back at the Elkins home, Antwone is stunned to be proudly welcomed by his many relatives, who have prepared a feast for him. When he returns to Coronado, Antwone cheerfully informs Davenport that he is not a virgin any longer, and tells him that he was right about seeking out his family. In turn, Davenport relates that when he and his wife discovered they could not have children, he obtained the best psychiatric help for Berta, but he shut down emotionally. It was not until Antwone entered his life that Davenport came alive again, and the commander thanks Antwone, his surrogate son, for helping him become a better doctor and husband.

Crew

Stuart M. Abramson

Key grip

Dean L. Alexander

Propmaker

Molly Allen

Loc Manager

Joan Andrews

Loc PA, Cleveland unit

Kim Andrews

Office PA, Cleveland unit

Simon Andrieux

Composer

Mario A. Arce

Laborer

James Babineaux

Best boy Electrician

Sidney R. Baldwin

Still Photographer

Yvonne Bastidos

Set Costume

David Batancourt

Foley mixer

Jeff Baxter

Propmaker

Billy Beaird

Rigging grip

Anna Behlmer

Re-rec mixer

William Biggerstaff

Painter

Carolyn Bishop

Designer Department PA

Todd Black

Producer

Will Blount

Props Master

Jim Bolt

Re-rec mixer

Troy Borisy

Leadman

Kevin P. Boyd

Video Assistant

William Branch

Propmaker

Bill Brennan

Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan

Martin Bresin

Special Effects Coordinator

Adrienne Brown

Casting PA, Cleveland unit

John A. Brubaker

Transportation capt

Conrad Buff

Film Editor

John S. Bukala

Const foreman, Cleveland unit

Gary Burritt

Negative cutter

Willie Burton

Sound Mixer

James K. Butler

Swing gang, Cleveland unit

Keith Butler

Stunts

Matt Cahill

Loc PA, Cleveland unit

Jennifer Calbi

Assistant Editor

Joe Cassano

Grip, Cleveland unit

Arnold Castaneda

Propmaker

Manuel Castillo

Set Dresser

Monica Castro

Assistant Props master

Lynn Champagne

Addl hair

Larry M. Cherry

Hairstylist

Ann S. Christman

Prod Coordinator

Ron Clarke

Office prod Assistant

Tim Clément

Electrician guitar

Kenneth Clemmons

Casting PA, Cleveland unit

George Clinton Jr.

Composer

Nelson Coates

Production Design

Melissa "stanley" Cohen

Prod Supervisor

Bootsy Collins

Composer

Xiomara Comrie

B Camera 1st AC

Donald Paul Cooke

Laborer

Chris Crago

Film runner

James W. Crawford Jr.

Set prod Assistant

William Keily Cronin

Camera loader, Cleveland unit

Victor Daniel

Composer

Jeff Danna

Acoustic guitar

Mychael Danna

Music

Mark Davies

Loc Assistant

Karen Davis

2d 2d Assistant Director, Cleveland unit

Sharen Davis

Costume Design

Sandy De Crescent

Scoring contractor

C. Don Debaun

Medic

Damon Degrignon

Technocrane tech

Laura J. Derosa

Designer Department Coordinator

Thomas Diehl

Libra head tech

Lisa D. Disanto

Clearance Coordinator

Nicholas Dodd

Score orch & Conductor

Jim Dresser

Medic

Warren Drummond

Storyboard artist

Beth Dubber

Travel Coordinator, Cleveland unit

Sean Duckworth

Set PA, Cleveland unit

Michael Dudiak

Designer Department Assistant, Cleveland unit

Don Duffield Iii

2d Assistant Camera

Mark Duggan

Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan

Traci Easley-williams

Casting PA, Cleveland unit

David J. Easterling

Propmaker

Linda Edminson

Teacher, Cleveland unit

Matthew D. Egan

Gangboss

Melissa Elbaum

Buyer

James D. Emory

Film runner

Jack English

Gaffer

Erik A. Erichsen

Electrician

Russ Faust

Grip, Cleveland unit

Marvin Felton

Special Effects

Dawn Fintor

Foley artist

Antwone Fisher

Co-producer

Antwone Fisher

Writer

Jeff Fisher

Electrician, Cleveland unit

Randy Fletcher

1st Assistant Director

Greg Flores

Rigging grip

Troy Flores

Swing gang

Amrita-diane Ford

Makeup

Mindy Frank

Const buyer

Marquis Frost

Loc PA, Cleveland unit

Carl Fullerton

Makeup

Artis I. Gaines

Assistant loc, Cleveland unit

Carrie Black Gallison

Assistant prod Coordinator

Brenda Garcia

Addl 2d 2d Assistant Director

Bruno Garcia

Composer

Jack Gardener

Swing gang, Cleveland unit

Will Gatlin

Craft services, Cleveland unit

David Gerson

On set Assistant to Mr. Black

Sheila Goldfarb

Medic

David Goldstein

Lead painter

Hope Goodwin

2d 2d Assistant Director

Angelique Graham-bones

Key set prod Assistant

Seth Greenwald

B Camera dolly grip

Cyrillynn P. Grospe

Office prod Assistant

Kevin Gustavson

Propmaker

Kip Gynn

Sound cable utility, Cleveland unit

Johnny Haddad

Set prod Assistant

Brad Haehnel

Score rec and mixed by

Randa Haines

Producer

Cdr. Paul Hammer

Psychiatric tech adv

Tom Hardisty

Assistant eng

Donna R. Harrison

Casting Assistant

Robert "sarge" Hepburn

Medic

John Hinkle

Standby painter

David Holmes

Cable person

Paul Houle

Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan

Bill K. Hoyt

Painter

Heather Hudson

Art Department Assistant, Cleveland unit

Iris Huezo

Set prod Assistant

Steven Inez

Laborer

Paul Intson

Music programmer

Paul Intson

Bass

Moses D. Isreal Jr.

Assistant to Mr. Washington, Cleveland unit

Gregory Jacobs

Composer

Pierre Luc Jamain

Composer

Levi James

Set prod Assistant

Karl Jefferson

Set PA, Cleveland unit

Vincent Jogerst

Composer

Angela Johnson

Addl makeup

Tanya Johnson

Addl hair, Cleveland unit

Nasir Jones

Composer

Thomas Kaschade

Propmaker

Joseph C. Kelley

Labor foreman

Fay Kelly

Addl hair

Carole Ann Kenneally

1st Assistant Editor

Matthew C. Kime

2d Assistant props

Rebecca Kirkland

Prod Secretary

Dennis G. Knight

Swing gang, Cleveland unit

Lynn Kramer

Assistant props, Cleveland unit

David Kulczycki

Sound Effects Editor

Daniel Kupresan

Assistant Editor

Steven R. Kutcher

Entomology consultant

Gary Lamantia

[Westcam] tech

Brian Lawson

Assistant Music Editor

David S. Lazan

Art Director

Rod Ledta

Set Dresser

Marc Leeger

Best boy grip

Donald Leigl

Utility painter, Cleveland unit

Alex Lerner

Assistant auditor

Al Lewis

Art Department Assistant

Marvin E. Lewis

Boom person

Murshel C. Lewis

Ward, Cleveland unit

Pauletta Lewis-irwin

Addl hair

Deborah Lily

Addl hair, Cleveland unit

Marylou Lim

Set Costume

Julie Ann Lindstrom

Electrician, Cleveland unit

Rick Linkowski

Company grip

Brandon Linville

Assistant auditor

Joseph Lobato

2d eng

Andrew Lockington

Assistant to comp

David Lucarelli

ADR recordist

Tricia Lynch

Assistant loc, Cleveland unit

Blair Mackay

Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan

James Maclin

Craft services, Cleveland unit

Kathy Madison

Addl makeup, Cleveland unit

Matt Marrin

Assistant eng

Billy Martin

Composer

Ken Mccahan

Swing gang, Cleveland unit

Cat'ania Mccoy-howze

Addl makeup

Lashawn Mccrary

Office PA, Cleveland unit

Anne Mcculley

Set Decoration

George Mcdougall

Carpenter, Cleveland unit

Matt Mcguire

Set Dresser

Richard N. Mcguire

Propmaker

Caitlin Mckenna

Voice casting

Frank Mckeon

Swing gang, Cleveland unit

Dennis Mcneill

Col timer

Pete E. Meda

Propmaker

Barbara Mesney

Set Design

Toya Milawan Profit

Set PA, Cleveland unit

Beverly L. Mink

1st Assistant accountant

James Mize

Propmaker

Gail Monian

Stunts

William Moore

Casting PA, Cleveland unit

Glenn Moran

Electrician

Annette Moreno

Craft services

Doug Moreno

Prod accountant

Mildred Iatrou Morgan

Dial Editor

Thomas S. Morris

Propmaker

Walter Morrison Jr.

Composer

Sal Muhammed

Mr. Washington's personal security

Greg Musselman

Painter

Rick Myers

Propmaker

Christopher Naefke

Plasterer

Tony Nagy

1st Assistant Camera

Jason Newton

Dolly grip

Jon Nicholson

Swing gang, Cleveland unit

Film Details

Also Known As
Finding Fish, The Antwone Fisher Story
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Dec 20, 2002
Premiere Information
World premiere at the Toronto Film Festival: 12 Sep 2002; Los Angeles opening at the AFI Fest: 7 Nov 2002
Production Company
Antwone Fisher Productions, Inc.; Fox Searchlight Pictures
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Country
United States
Location
San Diego, California, USA; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland, Ohio, United States; San Diego, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were The Antwone Fisher Story and Finding Fish. The picture was also referred to as The Untitled Antwone Fisher Project or the The Untitled Antwone Fisher Story when production first began. The film's closing credits begin with a written dedication from screenwriter Antwone Fisher: "In memory of my Father, Edward Elkins, whom I never had the pleasure and the honor to know." The end credits also contain the following written disclaimer: "Antwone Fisher's screenplay was inspired by his life. Some of the characters and events depicted in this film are fictional."
       As depicted in the film, Antwone Fisher was born in 1959 in Cleveland, two months after his father was murdered. [In the film, the character of "Antwone" is born in 1976.] Fisher's mother, incarcerated at the time of his birth, never claimed him from the orphanage in which he remained for the next two years before being placed into an abusive foster home. After being turned out of his foster home, Fisher spent two years in a boys's reform school, then was homeless before joining the Navy. Fisher served an eleven-year stint in the Navy before spending three years as a correctional officer. It was while he was then employed as a security guard at Sony Pictures that he sought out and found his real family.
       Inspired by the enthusiastic reaction to his story that he received from several Sony executives, who learned about it because he had to ask for special permission for vacation time to visit his family, Fisher decided to write a screenplay about his life. According to studio publicity and numerous articles, in 1993, Fisher began taking a screenwriting class taught by Chris Smith. Smith, a screenwriter who would eventually make his debut as a producer with Antwone Fisher, introduced Fisher to his former college roommate, Sony producer Todd Black. Impressed by Fisher's story, Black and his producing partner, Randa Haines, gave Fisher enough money to quit his security guard job and bought him a computer on which to write his screenplay. After working closely with Black for approximately a year, Fisher was able to sell his screenplay to Twentieth Century Fox in August 1994. Fisher later used his screenplay as the basis for an autobiographical book, published in 2001 as Finding Fish: A Memoir. The poem recited by "Antwone" in the film, "Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?," was the title poem in Fisher's collection of poetry published in December 2002.
       According to a August 23, 1995 Daily Variety article, Haines was considering directing the project at that time, and one of the co-producers was to be Jason Blumenthal, a vice-president at Haines/Black Productions. A November 24, 1998 Hollywood Reporter "films in preparation" notice also included Blumenthal as a co-producer and listed one of the production companies as Black & Blu Entertainment, which was run by Blumenthal and Black. Blumenthal is not credited onscreen, however.
       In September 1996, Variety announced that Denzel Washington was in talks to direct the picture but not star in it, with Will Smith being considered for the lead role of Antwone. Several articles about the making of the picture note that Black first approached Washington, who made his feature-film directorial debut with Antwone Fisher, solely about playing "Jerome Davenport." Washington instead decided that he wanted to direct the project, and it was not until later that he agreed to play the part of Davenport, a fictional composite of several people who helped Fisher. According to a January 2003 Premiere article, Washington "auditioned hundreds of young men around the country" for the part of Antwone, and a 20-27 December 2002 Entertainment Weekly article notes that in addition to Smith, actors Cuba Gooding, Jr., Mekhi Phifer and Ja Rule were also interested in the role. The article also notes that while Fisher was working at the Sony lot, he made the acquaintance of a young actor, Derek Luke, who worked at the gift shop on the lot. Luke, who had appeared in only two television shows and a bit part in the Spike Lee movie Clockers, auditioned for the role of Antwone several times and before being cast in August 2001. Joy Bryant, who plays "Cheryl Smolley," also played her first major role in a feature film in Antwone Fisher.
       In the ending onscreen credits, the filmmakers thank the Department of Defense and U.S. Navy, along with a number of specific Naval officers and ships, for their cooperation in the picture's production. In studio publicity and television interviews, Washington credits the Navy's extensive cooperation with helping him to produce the film on a modest budget of $13 million. Several Naval bases and areas in San Diego, CA were used as location sites, and the main ship used during production was the USS Belleau Wood. Studio publicity reported that in order to "maintain an air of authenticity, nearly all the [N]avy extras that are seen in the film were actually off-duty officers from the bases where the film was shot." Portions of the picture were also shot in Cleveland, OH, in the real neighborhoods where Fisher grew up, and many members of the community were hired as extras or participated in the production in other ways.
       Antwone Fisher was selected as one of AFI's top ten films of 2002, and was nominated for an Image Award as Outstanding Motion Picture. Luke received an Independent Spirit Award as Best Male Lead, and his performance was recognized as the Best Breakthrough Performance of an Actor by the National Board of Review.

Miscellaneous Notes

Co-winner of the 2002 award for Best Director (Denzel Washington), shared with Sam Mendes ("Road To Perdition") and Spike Jonze ("Adaptation") by the Washington D.C. Film Critics.

Nominated for the 2002 award for Best Original Screenplay by the Writer's Guild of America (WGA).

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2002 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Winner of the 2002 award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor (Derek Luke) from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

Limited Release in United States December 20, 2002

Released in United States November 2002

Released in United States on Video May 20, 2003

Released in United States September 2002

Released in United States Winter December 19, 2002

Wide Release in United States January 1, 2003

Shown at Toronto International Film Festival (Gala) September 5-14, 2002.

Feature acting debut for Derek Luke.

Feature directorial debut for actor Denzel Washington.

Feature screenwriting debut for Antwone Quenton Fisher. Before turning his story into a movie, Mr. Fisher wrote a memoir, "Finding Fish," which was published in 2001.

Wide Release in United States January 1, 2003

Released in United States on Video May 20, 2003

Released in United States September 2002 (Shown at Toronto International Film Festival (Gala) September 5-14, 2002.)

Released in United States November 2002 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Gala) November 7-17, 2002.)

Released in United States Winter December 19, 2002

Limited Release in United States December 20, 2002