Operation: WordSoundVision
Code Word: Crooked

Crooked Home
About Crooked
Crooked trailer (heavy - 14 MB)
Behind the Scenes Clips
Crooked Credits
Crooked Director/Producer/Writer
Crooked Poster: download a PDF (large -10MB)
Mentol Nomad

Skiz Fernando

Skiz (aka S.H. Fernando Jr.) strikes a singular figure in the media community. After graduating from Harvard and the Columbia University School of Journalism, he began his career as a music journalist for The Source magazine. He parlayed his knowledge and expertise in the field of hip-hop into the critically-acclaimed book, The New Beats: Exploring the Music, Culture & Attitudes of Hip-Hop (Anchor/Doubleday, 1994), which has become an important document of the culture behind rap music. The New Beats has since been published in England, France, and Japan.

Not content to just write about the music he loved, Skiz borrowed $1000 from a friend, producer Bill Laswell, and started his own label, WordSound Recordings, in December 1994. "I was frustrated with the corporate mentality that manipulated music," says Skiz, a long-time club and radio deejay, who, was deeply involved in music production. "When I put a record out," he continues, "I wanted do it on my own terms."

Such a no-compromise, D.I.Y. approach has translated into 40 full-length releases on WordSound over the last seven years (10 produced by Skiz himself), including a handful of singles on WordSound's vinyl-only, sub-division Black Hoodz. Running the gamut from dub and hip-hop to drum 'n bass and weird electronica, WordSound boasts a diverse and eclectic catalog, known world-wide for its innovation, experimentation and boundless creativity.

Skiz has run the label single-handedly from his home in Brooklyn and more recently Baltimore, all the while creating music under a variety of pseudonyms (Spectre, Slotek, The Eye). In his spare time, he continues to write about music for such publications as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Vibe. Most recently, he contributed to Spin magazine's Alternative Record Guide (Vintage Books) and Vibe magazine's History of Hip-Hop (Three Rivers Press).

"Film has always been one of my great passions, along with music and writing, " says Skiz, "but I've never had the time, the money or the know-how to actually get into it myself." Frustrated with the scarcity of good "independent" films, and compelled to tell a story using the visual medium himself, Skiz began formulating the idea for "Crooked" in 1998. "Art is in constant conflict with commerce," he says, "And I felt everyone could relate to the plight of the underdog on a mission to prevail against all this commercial bullshit. To me Sensational is the poster child for the whole underground realm we inhabit. Music is not just something he does, it's his way of life."

Skiz met the rapper/producer Sensational around 1995 through Bill Laswell, and was so impressed by the hip-hop iconoclast that he eventually released three of his albums on WordSound. "Sensational lives so close to the edge that half the things that have happened to him I couldn't even dream up," says Skiz. Thus Sensational's real life provided natural fodder for "Crooked," which is completely based on actual events. Most of the other characters in the film--from drug dealers to graffiti writers to A&R reps--are also non-actors, simply playing themselves or characters very close to themselves, making "Crooked" a unique docu-drama.

Skiz traveled half-way around the world to his homeland of Sri Lanka, where he spent 2 months banging out an initial draft of the script (incidentally in the same hotel where Arthur C. Clarke penned 2001: A Space Odyssey). Twelve rewrites and over a year later, he had a shooting script of 110 pages. Then, armed with 2 Sony PD-150 cameras, he and a crew of three shot the movie in New York in April 2001, logging 70 hours of footage. Working on weekends, Skiz and editor David Bryen edited "Crooked" during the summer with the music and sound design added in the fall. In addition to writing, producing and directing the film, Skiz did all the casting and location scouting, and much of the actual shooting and original score. A highly personal first effort, "Crooked" was self-financed and shot for only $22,000. Skiz describes it as "My homage to all the independent voices of dissent that rebel against the status quo."