Chicago — Nearly four years since the COVID-19 lockdown, a new film tells a story many can probably relate to dating back to the quarantine days.
“Long Division'' stars Chicago native Barry Brewer Jr. and comedian Brandi Denise as Vic and Bella who are stuck in quarantine due to Vic being exposed to COVID-19. The couple, soon to divorce, are at each other's throats.
The hour and 20-minute film, written and executive produced by Ken Hoyd, reminds viewers of the frustrating feeling of being trapped that many had to go through four years ago. The film was shot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Think back to what that felt like in April, May, June of 2020. We all share this experience. All of us were trapped in our homes at some point and couldn't go anywhere,” Hoyd said. “So I tell people to think back to what we all experienced during that time.”
The movie birthed a new business venture for Hoyd. Alongside his business partner and cousin, Kyle Marshall, Hoyd started Dark Berry Productions in May 2020 as a way to give more media representation to a well-rounded group of Black people. The company name came from his grandmother's saying, “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”
“We want to work with people that are up and coming. This is a youthful business when it comes to energy. It's sort of like having farm leagues in baseball,” Hoyd said. “As people grow in their craft, we want to be able to help them financially. We want to be able to help them with exposure.”
The reason the film was released after three years was due to the death of the financier of the film, Daphne DeLoach. According to Hoyd, it rocked the team and it left questions as to whether or not they wanted to continue with the film.
“We didn't know if we actually wanted to complete the post process and put it out. She was our lifeblood,” Hoyd said. “Once we finally got our bearings together, probably mid-last year, we went ahead and finished the post process, and we did it as an homage to her.”
Hoyd also spoke highly of his lead actor, who would oftentimes use his creative mindset that ultimately helped build the story of the film.
“Barry is an artist to true artists. There were times when I wrote a scene a particular way. But because of what we filmed previously, and what we were going to film coming up, Barry felt a different arc for his character,” he said. “He's very acute when it comes to his comedic chops. He really leans on that, and we allow that throughout the whole process.”
Before “Long Division,” Brewer was well known for his lead role as Jonathan Watts on BET+’s “Bruh” series, executive produced and directed by Tyler Perry. Brewer also was featured on “America’s Got Talent" in 2023 and is planning on a comedy tour in 2024.
Something that Brewer appreciated about himself was the authenticity of his work. He believes that when people are the realistic versions of themselves in their work, it creates the best results in their work.
“I feel it gives it the best chance for it to be successful because people can feel it or believe it or buy into it because it's real. So if I'm a part of something, I want to give it my all and I want to be the best it can be,” Brewer said. “Even if that's me putting in a little more work or doing more than I have to, I'm willing to do that to make it as great as it can be.”
Brewer also spoke about being a native of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood and how his rise from humble beginnings helped him adapt to working with independent filmmakers like DarkBerry Productions.
“I think it’s just understanding filmmaking, understanding where you're at certain budgets, and how things have to move or sometimes just the learning curve for some people. Having the core foundation of people I had kept things copacetic and a great place to be so it wasn't hard for me,” he said.
“Long Division” is available now on Tubi.
Rashad Alexander is a Chicago-based journalist and an alumnus of Marquette University. He can be followed on Instagram and X @ruhshaaad.
Edited by Nykeya Woods