E.W. Brooks is a writer whose fascination with the stories of those who pursued the glamorous life on the wrong side of the law led to her writing “Mafietta.” In 2014, Brooks linked up with screenwriter Alicia Allen to adapt the book into a short film, and the following year at a seminar in North Carolina, Brooks met Damon Dash. Almost immediately, the former Roc-A-Fella CEO came on board as the film’s director.
Th short film stars reality TV/radio personality London Charles (aka Deelishis) and battle rapper Murda Mook, and was shot in Wilmington, NC. The project was released in November 2015, but the business relationship between Brooks and Dash has deteriorated beyond repair. According to Brooks, Dash’s refusal to sign a contract after a year and a half of negotiations only widened the gap between the two.
He is also accused of trying to edge Brooks out of her own project by doing what he wants with “Mafietta” without her input. The film is available for viewing on DameDashStudios.com without any credit to Brooks, and she says he didn’t get her permission to put the film on the site. He’s also cut off all communication with her, including blocking her on social media.
In an exclusive interview with theJasmineBRAND.com’s Mara The Hip-Hop Socialite, Brooks talks about her plans to pursue legal action, what went wrong in their relationship and the last straw. Read the interview below.
ON HER BOOK “MAFIETTA”:
“Mafietta” is a book I penned back in 2013 because I was tired of the constant male spin on the game. I decided to write a book that would show a strong woman, motivated by love, and the choices she made as a result of her feelings. I wanted her to save her family from the game and help “clean” up a bad situation.
ON TURNING THE BOOK INTO A SHORT FILM:
My goal from the beginning was to create a project that would open the way for multiple revenue streams. Over time, I followed my dream and created shirts, other novels, and finally the film piece.
ON HOW DAMON DASH BECAME INVOLVED:
I attended a Poppington Seminar in Albemarle, NC for $50 bucks. I explained that I was looking to create a film project based on my series, and asked him for mentorship and a co-sign. He liked that I had my own money and a tangible project. So he said yes, and then as I headed to my seat, he said he wanted to direct. I told him I had a director, but that was his deal breaker, so I relented.
ON WHAT DASH INVESTED IN THE MOVIE:
Damon was very accessible in the beginning. He opened his Rolodex to me, but never his wallet. When the project grew from $17,000 to $49,000, I got a few grand from my sister and another few from my mother, and we made it happen. Damon made no financial contribution to the project. We did use his camera, but he wouldn’t ship it, so I had to spend a few extra hundred dollars flying someone down south so that we could even use it.
ON HOW MUCH HE PROMOTED THE FILM:
Damon did a lot of promoting in the beginning. However, when we had different ideas as to how the business of “Mafietta” was to be conducted, he stopped altogether. You’ll notice that “Mafietta” wasn’t mentioned on [the TV shows] Music Moguls or Growing Up Hip-Hop – it was because I refused to give up control of my brand. He did come back around momentarily when the trailer gained momentum and broke the half a million mark. Then again when we got some film festival traction, but he really sat back and just bragged on the work when something good happened.
ON WHEN THEIR BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WENT BAD:
I had a certain level of respect for Damon because of his experience in the industry, but I remember my request to Damon – I asked for mentorship and a co-sign. I asked for mentorship because I am working on a Master’s Degree in Media Management, and I felt I could learn so much. I had ideas of my own for the “Mafietta” brand because I’d spent the 3 years before meeting Dame building it.
I think he wanted me to just rely on his knowledge, but I wanted to understand his moves and I refused to give up my rights. He didn’t like that I had a mind of my own, or that I wasn’t afraid to use it. Ultimately, our varying visions for the project caused an irreparable rift in the business relationship.
ON THE LAST STRAW:
The last straw for me in this and any other partnership was when the communication stopped and the disrespect began. For example, I understand that “Mafietta”, the one I bought, paid for and own, is on Damon’s paid streaming service. He has no legal right to do this, and it is certainly against my wishes. He shouldn’t be making money off my money when I’m not getting a dime, and who’s to say that I wanted it to be placed there. He never asked and was definitely out of line.
ON HER NEXT STEP:
Damon has definitely taught me a lot – the main thing was “there is no emotion in business.” So when the time is right, I’ll sue him. In the meantime, I am moving on and continuing to grow the Mafietta brand in hopes of moving past the Damon Dash directed version. There is another version availiable online that was directed by award-winning director, Jahmar Hill.