According to Governor Roy Cooper’s website, in 2005, Guilford County had 27 opioid related deaths and Forsyth County had only 13. By 2015, Guilford had increased to 47 opioid related deaths, and Forsyth had spiked to 53. The opioid crisis is something an entire nation can relate to, but right here in the Triad and North Carolina, where the death toll from opioids grew 73 percent in just 10 years, it is something that creator and director Brandon Bias and actor and executive producer Julian Brittano take very seriously. Exposé is a scripted crime drama television series that uncovers corruption within a system, Bias said. According to the show’s IMDb page, Nakesha T. Jones, Bias, Brittano, Felton Foushee and Courtney Stribling have been credited with writing some episodes.
Exposé is centered around Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Lance Grier (Brittano) who loses his nephew. As the story unfolds, all the people who are involved in the corruption are revealed as being apart of his nephew’s death.
“Our lead helps shines light on the situation and as they go deeper more is discovered,” Bias said.
He said this show is centered on the opioid crisis, addiction, distribution and corruption.
“There is no race attached to this, there is no social status attached to this it is across the board,” Brittano said.
It is a real-time situation and something everyone should be able to relate to, Bias said.
Bias said production started last fall but it was just going to be a short film at the time. “Since then, the project grew into a full feature and me and Julian partnered up and thought we could go deeper and wider with the story, so it is pretty much what I thought it was times 2,000,” Bias said.
Exposé, the T.V. series emerged in late May, early June of 2017 and Bias said he believes the medium of television maximizes the potential of a project like Exposé.
“I think it would have worked as a feature film,” Bias said. “But putting this as a T.V. series we can really break down the characters and really incorporate everything that is involved so we get a fullness out of it and I played with the idea but dismissed it. Then I met Julian and he revived that in me, and we took it there.”
Brittano said there is not a target age demographic that they were hoping to reach because they are able to highlight various demographics of society. Brittano said however, much of it will be centered around the millennial generation. Brittano said the show will definitely reference the elderly, that are addicted to prescription medication because they deal with chronic pain, the veterans who struggle with overprescription as well as infants who are born addicted or who have lost their life due to the medications in utero. Brittano said he is struck by the infant deaths because his cousin recently lost her child due to an injury she sustained while pregnant. He said she was prescribed pain medication up to the middle of her pregnancy, and this was unfortunately when she discovered that she was pregnant. He said the baby passed away due to being addicted to the prescription medication. Brittano said he has personal stake in the topic of prescription medication and the opioid epidemic because his cousin lost her baby from it and his brother may have been misdiagnosed at a young age and now he suffers from various health issues from prescription medications.
Brittano said both Bias and himself have applied all of their personal resources to this project so that it can have a viable chance in being successful. “We are invested,” he said. “And that is what we are asking the community to do- be just as invested in this as we are.”
Bias said that the show has already gained some attention from local and nationwide media outlets, but he believes there should be even more attention brought to the series. He believes after Exposé airs, it will get the conversation started about the opioid epidemic and the way it impacts the community both at home and abroad.
One of the biggest issues Brittano said he and Bias found in their research on the epidemic is that most people who are addicted don’t even know they are addicted to opioids. “You have people who take the prescriptions and they are not aware of it or they have a tough time because, who are they going to open up to?” Brittano said. “So, what Exposé will do, will highlight and get the conversation started and community involved.”
“What I have learned and I am pretty sure Julian can agree, a lot of parents that lose their child they had no idea of the addiction or whatever, and a lot of it starts from sports injuries,” Bias said. “It will be a lot of warning signs.”
Brittano said the series will showcase a “tough” family that has been resistant to their family member. “We will show them soften up on camera,” Brittano said. “So that people who are watching who feel deterred can approach their feelings.”
Brittano said there are some other community-based initiatives that they are doing to cultivate a call to action and generate conversation for the opioid crisis and the show such as, casting calls in multiple cities across North Carolina. Brittano said Exposé is appropriate for North Carolina because the opioid crisis is the number one health issue of the state. Brittano said this is especially timely because just recently the White House has deemed the national opioid crisis a state of emergency.
“The funny thing about President Trump’s statement,” Bias said. “I was actually writing the script and I was writing about a governor character declaring a state emergency, and 30 minutes later boom, right on T.V. a lot of the script has been that way. Every week we have that ‘wow’ moment.”
Brittano said he just met with North Carolina’s secretary of health and human services last Friday and they discussed how Exposé can partner in with the strategic plans that the governor and officials are putting together.
“Like Brandon said, this thing has magnified so much and very quickly just with this project, just because it is so community-based,” Brittano said. “We feel as though we have a medium to use that engages the community, hold accountability to officials, engages the millennials and we’re here to tell a good story.”
Brittano said one way the community can become invested is by electing state officials, such as secretaries of the health and human services departments.
“We challenge them almost, to answer our president’s requests,” Brittano said.
Brittano said what sets Exposé apart from other dramas is that there is a level of “edutainment” to the medium. For instance, within the dialogue Brittano said they will be introducing factual statistics and initiatives that will educate and inform the audience, while also entertaining them. Brittano believes this is what sets Exposé apart from other series. The show lobbies for support and knowledge to the audience and is not for personal gain or greed, Brittano said.
“It is just to help save some people’s lives,” Bias said. “We can’t provide answers, all we can do is provide our talent and display something that should be intriguing and should be spoken. It is not to put pressure on people, but rather acknowledge the obvious. I think if they listen to us, we can make some big changes and save some lives.”
Exposé’s first season mainly takes place in a fictitious place called Triad City and was filmed exclusively in the Triad and surrounding areas such as High Point, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Burlington. Bias said that Greensboro has been the setting for most of their footage so far, with recognizable places such as the Battleground Avenue area, The Dynacon Event Center and Greene Street Nightclub. The event center’s owner Bill Waller is a big sponsor of the series and Brittano said he has been supportive of the show. Brittano said he has allowed them to use his space to shoot “a number” of scenes as well as where the satellite office for the series is located. He said the city of Greensboro has been very responsive and supportive. Although, Bias said, this show is not meant to reflect the Triad specifically but rather gives the community something to relate to, rally behind and get involved with. Bias and Brittano said they plan to film in other locations of North Carolina as well such as Charlotte, Wilmington and the Raleigh/Durham area.
Another thing that sets Exposé aside from other crime dramas, is that the series has been shot entirely in film, specifically 16 mm Kodak film. Kodak Motion Pictures and Entertainment Division president Steven Bellamy is one of the strategic partners with the film components. Kodak will be doing all the processing, color grading, transferring and supplying all the film for the production. Brittano and Bias hope to get back to the craft of filmmaking by shooting the series in film. Brittano said they wanted to put some heart into the project because it is a heartfelt project.
“With all the digital effects and film-like looks,” Brittano said. “Let’s just shoot film.”
“There is no need to emulate it, when you can actually shoot it.” Bias said.
As far as release dates go, Bias said there has not been one announced.
“Definitely 2018, hopefully earlier,” Bias said.
Brittano said they are looking at spring or summer of 2018. Soon, the duo plan to start releasing some visuals and teasers for the series this fall. Having started the project back in late May and early June, Bias said there has been a good bit of progress made.
John Blaq, actor and Winston-Salem local plays Andre “Dre” Sims in Exposé. Blaq describes his character as a man in his early to mid-20s who is “hard-headed and learns lessons the hard way.”
“Dre believes he is always the smartest person in the room,” Blaq said. “He is always scheming and being mischievous.”
Blaq said he came onto the project very early on for a small part. After he shot his scenes, Bias liked his portrayal of Dre so much, that he expanded his character to become one of the leads.
Blaq said Exposé is really great and the timing couldn’t have been better. He said the show is “very much needed and very entertaining.”
“It never gets lost on you that this is a serious problem,” Blaq said. “It is an epidemic, and people need to talk about it.”
Blaq said he is really glad God put him in the position to work with Bias and Brittano, and he is excited to watch it grow. Blaq and his partner Jae Blacc started with a comedy series they cleverly called Blaq on Blacc. Blaq has worked for Save The Arts films as well as various local theatre plays. He said he is very committed to the Triad area and attributes his success from working here. He said that it feels awesome to be filming Exposé in the Triad and believes that people do not have to move out of the Triad to places like New York or Los Angeles to get started. He believes that if aspiring actors “hustle and grind” they don’t have to move away to be successful. He believes that Exposé is a success story for keeping art local that has set an example in the community.
To learn more about Exposé, email email@example.com or visit their Facebook page. To inquire about casting calls email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film