search facebook twitter instagram close launch

Sorry to Bother You

Producers Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams, George Rush


Cassius Green is a 30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues who discovers a magical way to make his voice sound like it’s overdubbed by a white actor.

Cassius’s “White Voice” power, and his betrayal of friends who are organizing a work stoppage, shoots him up the ranks of the telemarketing world, where he’s promoted to the company’s elite team who sell Weapons of Mass Destruction and slave labor, via cold-calling.

In this almost alternate universe, the streets of Oakland are crowded with RVs, cars, and tents that working people live in, while billboards seduce people into literal slave-labor contracts.

Cassius’s brilliant girlfriend, Detroit, is a sign-twirler and gallery artist who is secretly a part of a Banksy-style collective called Left Eye. Much of Detroit’s street art is changing billboard advertisements into political statements.

Cassius sells slave labor for WorryFree, who offer workers housing and employment for life. They house workers in aesthetically luxurious prison cells, decorated with velvet and chandeliers.

Cassius’s telemarketing success leads him to meet the egomaniacal, obnoxious, cocaine-snorting, orgy-throwing, techie-style CEO of WorryFree, Steve Lift, who’s creating an army of grotesque half horse/half human beings called Equisapiens (non-centaur) to make a stronger work force. Macabre hilarity ensues.

About The Team

Boots Riley (WriterDirector) Boots Riley has rocked national and international audiences for 20 years as the songwriter, producer, and frontman for The Coup — a radical funk/punk/hip-hop band from Oakland. He’s also known as the frontman and lyricist of Street Sweeper Social Club, formed with Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine).

Riley has penned six albums for The Coup, all receiving widespread critical acclaim, with two of them named “Pop Album of The Year” by Washington Post and Associated Press, and “Hip Hop Album of The Year” by Rolling Stone.

New York Post says “Boots Riley ranks as some kind of genius.” Jeff Chang calls him “one of the most influential poets and thinkers of this generation.” Stereogum says “Boots Riley is a national treasure.” While renown philosopher Slavoj Zizek says, “the very existence of a person like Boots Riley is a miracle.”

On the intersection of art and political organizing — he’s delivered lectures at Harvard, Stanford, CalTech, Oberlin, Evergreen, Clark Atlanta, Western Michigan, UW Madison, Hunter College, Drake, Brandeis, Concordia, Goldsmiths, University of Florida, Università IUAV di Venezia, University of Melbourne, University of Oregon, University Of Otago, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UCSC, and The Schomburg, among other places.

Boots Riley grew up in theater. His grandmother, Anita Patterson, was the director of Oakland Ensemble Theater in the 70s and 80s. he spent many summers with rehearsals around him, directions being yelled out, and costumes being made — while helping with mundane gopher duties.

As a teenager, he joined Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater — writing, directing, and performing plays in what was then a small, but reputable, storefront theater.

In high school, he was tasked by the drama class with writing the school play. It was to be an Oakland version of West Side Story called “Eastside Story,” and all the songs were to be raps. Although he had no experience as a rapper at that point he wrote the raps for the play, and performed them. He didn’t get booed. Theater was actually his first foray into Hip-Hop.

Boots attended SF State’s film school, but quit in his third year after being offered a recording deal with Wild Pitch/EMI Records. He’s a had a hand in 19 music videos and directed the video to The Coup’s “Me And Jesus The Pimp In A ’79 Granada Last Night” and the documentary short, “Eating Forever.”

During this same period, Boots was involved in many facets of grassroots organizing. He’s headed up campaigns, helped to organize protests and work stoppages, and has been in situations where he’s had to co-ordinate decisions and plans with groups of others amid tear gas, smoke bombs, and bean bags being shot at them. He’s ready for his first feature now.

His book of poetry and anecdotes, Tell Homeland Security — We Are The Bomb is out now on Haymarket Press.

Jonathan Duffy & Kelly Williams (Producers), graduates of the film program at the University of Texas at Austin, first met while working at the Austin Film Festival in 2004. They later formed a partnership to produce Yen Tan’s feature Pit Stop, which premiered at Sundance 2013 and was nominated for the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards’ John Cassavetes Award. They produced Kat Candler’s Sundance 2014 selection Hellion starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis, distributed by IFC Films. Recently, they produced Brad Besser’s Sundance 2015 documentary Beaver Trilogy Part IV as well as the 2015 SXSW narrative competition feature 6 Years directed by Hannah Fidell and executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass.

Duffy, who is based in the Bay Area, was a participant in the 2013 A2E Direct Distribution Lab hosted by the San Francisco Film Society. He is the co-founder of an award- winning organic food delivery business and a limited partner in several successful restaurants in Austin, Texas. He is currently participating in SFFS/KRF’s inaugural Producer Fellowship based at FilmHouse.

Based in Austin, Williams is a 2012 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and producer of the indie features Cinema Six and Pictures of Superheroes as well as Kat Candler’s previous short films Hellion (Sundance 2012) and Black Metal (Sundance 2013). As a film festival programmer, he was awarded the 2007 International Film Festival Summit Excellence Award.