June 9th, 2017 - Review by Mark Schwab
BLUE COLLAR HUSTLE is a web series currently playing on YouTube which attempts to bring many themes into focus. It is an incredibly ambitious independent production with big dreams that (I think) parallel the plot threads imagined by series writer Alonge Hawes and director Geoffrey Henderson. It is a bit of a challenge in that at first I wasn't sure I was the target audience for this show at all as it profiles a number of African-American friends trying to make it as hip-hop artists while juggling "regular" jobs, girlfriends, wives and children. However, after viewing the first four episodes I was surprised in the way this series grew on me.
I won't go into too many specific details since it is important to let the series and characters unfold naturally for the viewer. I will point out though that episode 1 ("Where I Belong") sets the stage by introducing us to Ajani Garvey (writer Hawes) as he thrives at his 9-5 job and keeps his beautiful girlfriend happy yet is clearly yearning for something more. He's always loved music but the episode hints that he regrets not going all the way with trying to make it as an artist. When a good friend of his dangles a new music project in front of him though, he jumps at the chance.
Episode 1 of BLUE COLLAR HUSTLE stumbles a bit out of the gate with some rickety sound recording and performances that I would describe as "nervous". It looks like the actors had only one take to get the lines right so some of the dialogue comes off a bit improvised after missing a beat. I started to wince a bit thinking of three more episodes of indie awkwardness.
But then a real nice surprise came with Episode 2 ("Ace Boogie") - suddenly the sound improved, the cinematography got sharper and - most critically - the actors started to truly shine with energetic chemistry. It was such a massive improvement across the board over episode 1 that I had a smile on my face the whole time. I started to get invested in these folks in a great way in watching them try to navigate making a living as an artist. I started to root for them. Hawes and Henderson had hit upon something here. Episode 3 ("Six Shots") continued the strong indie filmmaking and realistic characters and now I was really excited for Episode 4 ("Goddess").
Alas, Episode 4 took a slight step back; the weak sound mix was back and the characters got too preachy for me with straw man arguments and too much "talking the plot". But it still got the job done if barely.
In all, BLUE COLLAR HUSTLE is certainly worth checking out and I am curious for more. These folks are committed, passionate filmmakers with a great cast. They seem determined to make this work and I'm confident their filmmaking and plotting will tighten up. Just get through the first episode (which is admittedly important for exposition) and I doubt you'll feel hustled.