Published on June 8th, 2019 | by Guest Editor0
The Hype Magazine Chops It Up with, Solvan “Slick” Naim; Star of Netflix/Stage 13 Series, “It’s Bruno!”
“Slick” Naim, wears many hats. Rapper, actor, director, writer and dog lover. At least according to his role on “It’s Bruno,” a new Netflix series. Naim, plays, Malcolm Bartello an overprotective dog lover whose love for his four-legged friend, “Bruno” takes him on a roller coaster ride through, New York. Naim, is an award-winning writer, director and rapper from Brooklyn. He won 5- festival awards for his debut film, “Full Circle in 2013. He also became the youngest (22) feature film producer with the lowest budget registered with the New York’s Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. He followed that up with, “Stanhope,” a short film which was picked up by, HBO’s Short Film Competition in which he won “Best Film.” Solvan, also has director credits for, “Power” on Starz, “Snowfall” on FX as well as “Blacklist” on NBC. “Slick” has been a very busy man. Aside from the new Netflix series and the multiple shows he’s directing on, he also has an album out titled, “Proof of Concept!”
I was able to track down the busy Brooklynite to discuss “It’s Bruno!”
I love the Netflix series, “It’s Bruno.” They say dog is a man’s best friend and you bring that concept to the forefront. Tell us about it.
Slick Naim: It’s pretty much essentially that, man. It’s about a guy from Brooklyn who loves his dog. It’s just him and his dog. That’s all he has. That’s all the family he has, so he’s an overprotective wild Brooklyn dude. It’s essentially a love story about him and his dog in New York; in Brooklyn.
Is that who you really are? I know you own a few rescue dogs. Are you that overprotective of your four-legged friends in real life?
Slick Naim: (Laughing) no, it’s an exaggerated version of myself. I don’t go around beating people down with broomsticks (laughing), you know what I mean, but, Malcolm does. There are little parts of me in that show, but by no means is it autobiographical.
Whenever you film animals, dogs in particular because they are real instinctive animals, they see another dog they want to react and chase it and things like that. Is it difficult to get them to behave or do you just know that it may require several takes?
Slick Naim: It definitely wasn’t easy. It was pretty difficult. But Bruno was the easiest actor I have ever worked with. He hit his marks, he was on point and he was always on time. But getting all of the other dogs to sit and do certain things on command was a real pain in the ass for sure. We managed to knock it out. It’s difficult to work with kid’s and animals and that’s all we were doing. There was a lot of having to calm them down and getting them to relax. They see another dog and they want to go crazy. It was a lot of that for sure, but for the most part they were all trained.
I’m sure this was extra special for you given the fact that you were able to film this at home, in your hometown.
Slick Naim: You’re right, man. Whenever you can create something in your hometown that the world can see and that you’re proud of, it’s a blessing. I was able to do that. I had a blast and there is a certain love and a certain energy that kind of pops off the screen when you watch it. We were able to capture that in, “It’s Bruno.”
What is, Bruno like in real-life?
Slick Naim: Yeah man, Bruno is all about love. Bruno is here to make people happy. Whatever problems that they are dealing with at the time or whatever they are going through, they are going to watch that show and forget about those problems. He’s going to bring joy and happiness momentarily to whoever watches the show.
You have a great cast as well. Were you hands on in picking the cast?
Slick Naim: It was a collaboration between me and the casting director and the producers. We kind of put our best ideas on paper and were off to the races. But yeah, there are a lot of friends of mine that I casted and a lot of actors that I worked with on shows that I directed that embody that New York experience.
You have been a part of, “Blacklist, Power, Animal Kingdom and Snowfall, this is far away from that type of work. How different was the experience for you to produce and be a part of a show that’s not the typical “Slick” Naim genre?
Slick Naim: It was very different. Everything I have done is in the drama, thriller… action space. But I was always doing comedy on my own stuff. If you look at my first film, “Full Circle,” or even “Stanhope,” which is more of a drama, but there are a lot of creative moments in there. I have a good sense of humor, so it works out. I always knew that I could do a good comedy. As far as my work, the projects that were coming my way was in the drama-based genre. It’s important to not get boxed in. I always knew I could do my own comedy and of course I was going to do drama as well. It’s all about kind of diversifying yourself and making sure that you’re not kind of corned in any specific genre or role. I do a lot more than directing as well. It’s important from the jump to establish yourself as a brand instead of a role.
I wanted to touch on that actually. You rap, you direct, act… in today’s entertainment world where so many talented people can do so many different things, How has being so diverse helped you along the way?
Slick Naim: It’s everything for me. It’s who I am. I got into films and TV from music and doing music. From producing music videos to writing my own songs and then writing my own scripts. It all kind of organically grew into that because it fell together consecutively. Of course, I’m going to continue to grow all of those talents collectively. I’m not just going to do one thing when I have the ability to do many.
Do you know if there will be a season two of, “It’s Bruno,” is that something that they play by ear? What can we expect from the series?
Slick Naim: Right now, I’m just telling everybody to binge it. Watch all of these episodes. Netflix is very unorthodox and original as far as their formula and the way they work. We have no idea if there is going to be a season two yet or not. We don’t know how long that will take to find out. We are kind of in the dark as far as that. The whole team is happy with the reception that we are getting globally. It’s crazy to see it connecting in all of these different countries. That’s probably the most surprising thing for me, the reception of it and how it connected. I’m getting a lot of videos from, France, Italy, India, Brazil, South Korea and Japan. That’s probably the craziest part about it and that’s what I love about Netflix as well.
I actually have to watch the last two episodes and I will do that shortly after we get off of the phone, but I have to ask you, will your luck get any better because you are going through a string of bad luck (laughing)?
Slick Naim: (Laughing), it will… you will see. It will all come together. It will definitely come together.
I appreciate the time. I hope this series continues and we will speak again soon. Is there anything else you would like to add before I let you go?
Slick Naim: “It’s Bruno” available now on Netflix. My album, “Proof of Concept,” available everywhere, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon; stream away, man. Stream away!
By Percy Crawford