Idris Elba’s next project is set to start production in Philly later this summer.
Ghetto Cowboy, which focuses on North Philadelphia’s Fletcher Street Riding Club, will film in town from Aug. 5 to Aug. 30, according to a casting call on the Greater Philadelphia Film Office’s website. Elba will star in the film, as well as coproduce alongside Empire creator and Philly native Lee Daniels.
Directed by Philly filmmaker Ricky Staub, who cowrote the script with business partner Dan Walser, Ghetto Cowboy is based on author Greg Neri’s award-winning novel of the same name. Both follow the story of protagonist Cole, a young Philly transplant who comes to the city by way of Detroit to live with his estranged father (who will reportedly be played by Elba in the film), and discovers urban horseback riding once he arrives.
Staub’s Brewerytown-based Neighborhood Film Co. posted a general casting call for background actors for the movie last month. This month, the Philly agency Heery Loftus Casting followed up with a more specific call asking for a “young African-American woman, age 15-18, for a speaking role” in the film. While no acting experience is required, extensive equestrian experience is a must.
Local filming for Ghetto Cowboy has been a long time coming. The film was initially announced last year, when a Neighborhood Film spokesperson told The Inquirer that filming in Philadelphia “would be the plan.” The GPFO, meanwhile, said that it would be “impossible to replicate North Philly elsewhere.”
Staub, who grew up in Chadds Ford, launched Neighborhood Film in 2011 after working as an executive assistant for Sam Mercer, who co-produced many of M. Night Shyamalan’s films. At the time, he was “having a midlife crisis — at 24,” as he told the Philadelphia Citizen back in 2015. Since then, the company has created commercials for companies including Nike, Anthropologie, and Coca-Cola. Ghetto Cowboy will be Staub’s directorial feature debut.