Showrunner Shan Nicholson Dishes On STARZ' BMF Doc

Exclusive: Showrunner Shan Nicholson Dishes On His Big Meech-Featuring ‘Blowing Money Fast’ BMF Documentary–‘It’s About The American Dream’

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After already introducing the world to the scripted versions of Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, STARZ is breaking down the fast-paced world of the infamous druglords in an extensive eight-part documentary series.

The rise and fall of the most notorious drug syndicate in American history is being documented in “The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast premiering Sunday, October 23rd at 10pm ET/PT.

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Executive produced by 50 Cent, the doc chronicles the story of the men who went from Detroit corner boys to kingpins and Hip-Hop kingmakers through firsthand accounts of BMF members, insiders, associates, and celebrity figures close to the Flenory family. It also exclusively features audio commentary from founding member Big Meech who is appearing in a documentary for the first time. As the doc recounts pivotal moments in his life, Meech shares his perspective and insight into building the BMF empire.

After previewing the series, we can confirm that it’s an attention-grabbing look into BMF’s family-style business mode, various beefs, and epic champagne-drenched parties while serving as the perfect pre-cursor to the scripted “BMF” series which returns this January.

Ahead of the documentary’s premiere, BOSSIP chatted with the series’ showrunner Shan Nicholson who dished on capturing the full arc of BMF’s scandalous story all while having the blessing of the Flenory family.

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Source: Jim Spellman / Getty

 

There have been several documentaries on BMF and Big Meech, but this is very much so more extensive. Walk us through the process of putting “The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast” together. 

This is a companion piece to the “BMF” scripted series in which Meech and the Flenory family are very much involved and so with 50 Cent involved, it was an easy transition to get the family on board and get Meech on board. But still, there was a sort of trust-building period where I really had to earn the subject’s trust and it took a while, not only with the Flenory family, but the inner circle of BMF and associates. This is the first time that they’ve actually come on camera to discuss a criminal enterprise, which in the criminal world in most cases is a no-no. So it was sort of a trust-building exercise, and we had to coax them and say, “Hey look, this has all been adjudicated, nobody’s going to get in trouble.” And it was an interesting process, but at the center of it, it was really about rust.

That was literally my next question, how did you get people comfortable enough to talk about this? Obviously, this is sensitive subject matter. 

A lot of it also came before the cameras were rolling. I’ll give you an example. There was an interview that I had years ago where a subject just walked off the set because he just saw the camera, saw the lights, and didn’t know what to do. And we had spent all this time and energy to get him in the seat, and it was literally me running down the street to convince him to come back, eventually, he did, and we got the best interview of the show. But it’s always reading the vibe and the energy of the room, it’s reading the body language of your subject, it’s just being vulnerable, I think that’s the other thing, is that I’m a curious storyteller, and I think that’s what I want to come across as. Not a presumptuous storyteller, I just want to be a fly on the wall, so to speak.

As a kid growing up in Atlanta, I remember literally seeing the BMF billboards and being curious about them. When did you first hear about BMF, and what made you interested in detailing their story?

Well honestly, before I became a filmmaker I was a DJ in New York for many, many years, and they were in New York doing the same thing that they were doing in Atlanta, and all over the country.I remember seeing them live in action as it were, at some of the hottest nightclubs in New York, and just being like, “Wow.” And then when the records were starting to come out I thought, “Oh, okay, they’re a label.” But then you’d always hear, “Well, they’re a label, but there’s something more.” And then of course when the story broke [about what really was happening], it was way more intriguing at that point. So I heard of them first through music, and then through filmmaking. But the thing that I wanted to bring to the table with the documentary was, what’s different?

What’s different about this quote, unquote drug dealing empire sort of story than others? And the core that I boiled it down to was family, and this dynamic that they’ve set up, not only in the organization, but between the brothers and the mother, and how this family is a family legacy in a lot of ways. And that’s what sort of drew me to the story, this idea of showcasing family, their inner turmoil in that family dynamic, but also the fact that BMF was a family. Still to this day anybody who talks about Meech that we interviewed was like, “That’s my brother, and I will do anything for him.” So this bond has really lasted for a lot of these folks in the inner circle.

 

That’s definitely something that stood out in the doc, the family aspect and how Meech would take care of members of his family, and members of his family’s family. That really humanized him for me in that aspect, how important for you was it to showcase that side of Meech that people didn’t see before?

Yeah. Well, it came from our subjects, I can’t tell you how many times they were like, “We have to talk about this.” People would stop the interview and say, “We have to talk about this side of Meech, we have to talk about this family dynamic.” And that sense of brotherhood that was built around the organization, I understood it very well, especially coming from New York in the late eighties, I could have been led down a very different path. And that sense of brotherhood when all else fails is very intoxicating, and I got it, I understood it right away.

 

BMF is still just such a cultural phenomenon and there’s still so much interest in BMF story. Why do you think people are just so enthralled about hearing more about Big Meech and this organization?

He has that legendary status. I mean, John Gotti, Big Meech, Larry Hoover, these names are synonymous with street culture, it’s something that comes up in hip-hop songs. And I understand, because having spoken to him various times, I understand that he’s a very charismatic guy, and he’s someone that was a natural born leader. He’s somebody that people gravitate towards. And what he built, just stands the test of time, and it’s just interesting. I think he’s going to go down in history as one of those street figures that changed the game in a lot of ways.

Tell us more about how this show serves as a precursor to the show that we’re going to see come back.

Well, hopefully, there’s not too many spoiler alerts in the documentary but in telling the story, there are going to be similar plot points and moments, just because there were big moments in Meech and Terry’s life. And we worked with Randy from the scripted series, and he was very gracious with his time and his research. And so I think it is going to work well as a companion piece because you’re going to see the real people, you’re going to see the real 50 Boys, you’re going to see the real E.D. Boyd. So it’s exciting in that sense, where I think there are going to be that instant sort of realization, that connection with scripted series, so it’s exciting in that way.

 

 

Ultimately, what are you hoping viewers take away from this doc?

Well, it’s a complicated story, and I hope that people understand the consequences of Big Meech and Terry and what they had to go through to get where they were. But at the same time, it’s a human story, it’s about the American dream and their version of the American dream. And for me, I try to let the viewer walk away, and I hope it’s more of a conversation piece than it is about a definitive statement. I tend to try to leave the audience asking questions, or at least thinking about potential questions that they might have about the subject. And so I don’t know if there’s one takeaway that I envision for it. I just feel that if it starts a conversation, then I think it’s a job well done.

 

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