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Locally-made thriller screens tonight at Sundial

Bill DeYoung



Cranstan Cumberbatch in "Agent X: Quarantine." Dreammakerz Productions.

Jabaar Edmond. Photo provided.

The success of his 2019 “hood film” Agent X, an independent, low-budget thriller, gave Jabaar Edmond and his movie-making team all the reason they needed to create a sequel.

Agent X: Quarantine debuts at a special 7 p.m. screening today at AMC Sundial 12. Writer, director and producer Edmond will be there, along with his cast and other members of his creative team.

“The only reason I can do all this work is because of the team,” said Edmond, spreading the credit appropriately.

The new movie once again stars bay area actor Cranstan Cumberbatch, Edmond’s partner in Dreamakerz Productions.

“The film is an espionage thriller,” Edmond explained. “It’s about cybersecurity, crypto-currency … it’s James Bond meets bitcoin. It’s a positive story, it definitely has a meaning, and there’s some great actors in it.”

Others in the cast include Louis Joseph, James Lincoln, David Tolliver, Mika Lawton, Blue Felieu, Bernie Rodriguez and Debbie “Yatti” Garrett.

“Hood films” is phrase used to describe a sub-genre of moviemaking, including Back action films or Black urban cinema.

Although he’s probably best known as a community activist and entrepreneur, Edmond has been in the independent movie business for over a decade. Cast in a film called Lost Key, he said, ignited his interest in the process. “I got bit by the film bug,” said Edmond. “That kind of began my quest.”

His 909 Productions produced several films between 2011 and 2015, “These were amazing times,” he said. “They were really popular in the hoods of St. Pete, Largo, Clearwater, Tampa. They were legendary hood films we were making.

“But then I wanted to spread my wings, and experiment with different topics and different casts. Cranstan and I went on to make a film called Art in the City. It was the first movie shown in City Hall. We actually screened the film for the Veterans Department and Mayor Kriseman.”

That led to the espionage thriller Agent X (2019), which the business partners toured around the country. They began writing the sequel just as the Covid pandemic was overwhelming the world.

What do we do now? asked Cumberbatch. “I said we’re just going to write this into the script, bro. That way it won’t look odd that there’s nobody on the streets, because that’s the premise of the movie. It’ll actually help us.”

Shooting on Agent X: Quarantine began in late 2020. “We actually were in Las Vegas the day it opened back up to the public,” said Edmond. “We were one of the first flights back in. The first day we filmed, it was like a ghost town.”

Scenes were lensed in Vegas, in the Arizona desert, in Detroit and Canada, to provide a taste of scenery that wasn’t Florida. However, said Edmond, “we’re still all about local. We filmed most of it in St. Pete, Clearwater, Largo. Big shout-out to the Pinellas Film Commission; they have been instrumental in getting us locations and giving support.”

Dreamakerz Productions isn’t done, not by a long shot. “Agent X is its own universe,” Edmond said. “We’re going to have different spinoffs from the different characters in the movie. We’re going to have a prequel to Agent X. We really wanted to do a big, major, blockbuster film, but independently.”

Tickets for tonight’s Sundial screening are here.

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