Legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neal will be part of a CG animated short that is planned for a 2022 festival rollout. O’Neal will mark his first appearance in the world of cinema as a co-screenwriter and producer of a short film named Headnoise that is produced by his company Jersey Legends Production. Apart from writing the script for the animated film, O’Neal will also narrate the project.
The film examines the internal and external pressure to succeed, as told through childhood friends Rashaun and Damon, two talented basketball players from the same inner-city neighbourhood. Both are NBA hopefuls, but Rashaun is the more coveted pick among college recruitment scouts. Secretly, however, Rashaun’s passion is sculpting — and while his journey to follow his dream is plagued with systemic disadvantages, he is determined to be undefeated by his internal head noise.
O’Neal is not new to film or animation. He started with classics like Kazaam (1996) and Steel (1997), as well as voice acted in numerous animated projects including The Smurfs 2, The LEGO Movie, The Simpsons, and upcoming Shaq’s Garage kids’ series he’s producing with Genius Brands. Headnoise will be the first film in which O’Neal has taken such an extensive role.
“I’m so proud of Headnoise. This is my first time writing and producing my own project. I wanted to call attention to what so many people encounter, especially young adults, who deal with anxiety and stress. It was such an honor to create this piece with such a diverse team of people. Everyone should see it,” said O’Neal.
Now is the ideal time to discuss mental health, and a short film like Headnoise by a famous TV personality will surely help remove some of the social stigma that surrounds such topics. We don’t see enough animated films on inner city struggles, and it’s good to see famous stars bring up such a pivotal and controversial conversation.
Screenwriter Donnie F. Wilson will collaborate with the former basketball player in writing the script of this promising project. The short film is directed by veteran animator Rafael Jimenez, along with Michael Parris and Wilson, who are also the producers of the film.
Cedric Williams Jr. and Joshua David King will star as Rashaun and Damon. The film will feature original songs by music producer and rapper Tone and composer Matthew Wang. Currently, the film is in the final stage of production, and the makers of the film have decided to launch the project in 2022.