Buffalo’s latest urban movie: An interview with writer Duece King

Tanya Gamble, Staff Writer

Duece King is a playwright, author, and motivational speaker born and raised in Buffalo, NY.

He’s recently taken on the role of creating movies in partnership with AK Reed and together they are diversifying the film industry.

Their portfolio includes hits like “PURE” the movie series and “Hunger Pangs” released in 2018. They are back at it again with their latest movie “Conflicted.”

“Conflicted” is attracting a lot of recognition and is showcasing the city of Buffalo in a very positive light. The movie features famous Buffalo native rappers Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn as key characters in the film but ultimately is centered around Hunter (Duece King), a young man recently released from prison, trying his hardest to keep his hands clean and begin a new phase in his life as betrayal, drugs and violence try to deter him from his aspirations.

I spoke with Duece King, the writer of Conflicted on his thought process behind the movie.

Q: Can you tell me about how you got started in film production and acting and how you knew you wanted to pursue playwriting?

A: I first started writing in prison. I started writing to escape the reality of being confined in a prison. When I came home, I continued on that path and ran into some people that were doing film, preferably AK Reed and he turned me on to doing film and writing for him, and the rest is history.

Q: How did the idea of the film come to you? What was your inspiration behind writing it?

A: Life. I lived such a colorful life. I just started creating characters based off of past experiences. So. even though the stories that I create are fictitious, it comes from an organic place. I just use real life experiences. Things that I’ve been through to create these stories.

Q: You also act in the movie, you play the main character Hunter. As the writer, did you immediately see yourself playing Hunter or did you want to cast someone else for that role, and remain more behind the scenes?

A: I actually casted someone else for that role. I was not supposed to play Hunter. Someone else was actually cast during auditions. In the midst of us doing rehearsals we had a rule that if a person missed two or more rehearsals then we would have to replace them. So, the person who was actually supposed to play Hunter didn’t take it as seriously as I would’ve liked and I was kind of forced into that position because we already started filming and I knew the role. I knew the character and people around me were like, “Yo! you have to play that role,” and I just took on the responsibility. So, to answer your question I was not supposed to play that role.

Q: But in the end you enjoyed it?

A: I really don’t like being on camera. I don’t like being in front of the screen. I would rather be behind the scenes but I understand from a promotional point of view, why I had to be the face of it because I’m a walking billboard. At the level that we are at now, no one [we cast] is going to be passionate enough to promote and to push the envelope forward other than myself, so I think that even though it happened by mistake, I think it was the universe that made me play that role. So, do I regret it? No. Do I like it? No, but I gotta take one for the team and make things happen for everybody.

Q: As I was watching the movie, I was thinking to myself, this looks so familiar. Where exactly in Buffalo did you shoot in film?

A: We filmed all over. We used staples of the community. We used restaurants that we would frequent often. We filmed all over Buffalo. Everywhere from the North, West and East side of Buffalo.

Q: The next thing I noticed was of course the costuming. Everyone in the film represented Buffalo by their clothing. I saw Sabres gear, Bill’s gear, G.U.A.G.G.I sportswear, which stands for “Get Up And Go Get It” started by Jay Turlz a Buffalo native, and a relatively new clothing brand Buffalo Kids owned by Westside Gunn that’s located in the Galleria Mall. What are your thoughts on his clothing brand?

A: I know Westside Gunn and I think [his clothing brand] represents the culture. I believe that he’s doing a great job of being the face of the city. I believe he’s creating a lot of opportunities — not just with his clothing line but for music — to inspire other people to want to pursue their dreams. I believe the Buffalo Kids brand represents the culture of Buffalo.

Q: Now, I see you and AK Reed collaborate in a lot of projects. How did you guys meet and what is it like working with AK Reed?

A: I’ve known Reed since we were kids. We went to grade school together and although I’m a couple years older than him we still were around each other when we were younger. We temporarily separated from each other over the years but reunited for film. We hadn’t been around each other for a while but once we reunited it was like we had been around each other all our lives. I’ve known him before the film so, it was actually real organic working together and it’s a pleasure working with him. I’m very thankful for him.

Q: You have some prominent people casted in this film, Benny the Butcher and J. Holiday. How did casting come about?

A: J. Holiday, we bumped into him in Atlanta. We had some preliminary conversations about the film and he said he wanted to be a part of it. Then when we started casting we made a phone call to him and he remained down. So, that’s how he came to be a part of it. As far as Benny, I wrote the film for him before his rap career started to take off. We already had some preliminary conversations about doing the movie, and he was on board. Then his rap career took off but to my surprise he stayed true to his word and still wanted to be a part of the project. So that was a blessing.

Q: Has the pandemic affected your ability to begin writing the script for Conflicted part two?

A: No, it hasn’t.

Q: Conflicted ends with “to be continued,” can you tell us anymore about what’s to be expected?

A: Conceptually, “Conflicted” is gonna be a three part movie — God willing, but as of right now it’s just one movie. All three parts will have the same “Conflicted” title. Part two will answer some questions that were not answered in part one. Matter of fact, a couple weeks ago, Westside Gunn persuaded me to do a part two of the film because initially I didn’t want to do a part two but he convinced me why “Conflicted” was so important to the culture. So, I shouldn’t get the credit for part two. I give the credit to Westside Gunn for persuading me to make that happen.

The films can be seen on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

For more information on the latest films being released by Duece King and AK Reed Check out AK Reed’s YouTube channel, AK Reed Films, to watch trailers of their released and soon to be released projects. You can also find him at his website, www.dueceking.com and on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.