Remembering ‘Hav Plenty’: 10 Things To Know About The 1997 Film Based On The True Story

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Written by Ann Brown
Hav Plenty
Remembering ‘Hav Plenty’: 10 Things To Know About The 1997 Film Based On The True Story. Photo: ‘Hav Plenty’ film

Back in 1997, a small film called “Hav Plenty” made a big impact. It was one of the very few films at the time to feature young Black actors with a storyline centered around a young Black man.

Here are 10 things to know about the 1997 film.

1. True Life

The romantic comedy was based on the true-life experiences of the star, Christopher Scott Cherot, who also wrote and directed the movie. It centers around Cherot’s unrequited romance with Def Jam A&R executive Drew Dixon, according to online film database IMDb.com. The film takes place over the course of one weekend during which an unattached man suddenly finds himself in demand by several women. Problem is, he has eyes for one woman nicknamed “Hav” who does not desire him back.

“The character is based on me, but like everyone else in the film, he was changed in the writing of the story,” Cherot told the Orlando Sentinel. “Then he got changed some more in getting him on film. He knows he wants Hav but, at the same time, knows he can’t have her. That’s enough to make him a little edgy.”

2. Five years in the making

Cherot had a five-year journey in making his debut feature film, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Here’s a synopsis:

  • 1993: Begin his first movie, fall in love and get heartbroken, sink into rejection depression, stop making the movie
  • 1994: Write a screenplay about the heartbreaking experience
  • 1995: Film first movie
  • 1996: Edit film
  • 1997: Sell movie and call it “Hav Plenty.”

3. Low, low budget

The film had an incredibly low budget of just $65,000, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Compare this to another Black rom-com of that same year, “Love Jones,” which had an estimated budget of $10 million.

Cherot’s mother, a physical therapist, took a second mortgage on her New York home to help finance “Hav Plenty,” and the rest was chipped in by friends and family, including his father, an accountant.

4. Stand-in lead

Cherot wasn’t set to play himself in the film. On the eve of filming, the actor originally set to star in “Hav Plenty” landed a role in a Spike Lee movie. This left Cherot no other choice but to step into the part himself.

“We didn’t have the money to run dailies, so I didn’t see myself until the shoot was over,” Cherot said. “I just broke down and cried. I thought, ohmigod, my mother is going to lose her house and I’m gonna have to get a job at the Dairy Queen, which means I gotta move to Iowa ’cause there aren’t any DQs in New York.”

5. NY Times gives a thumbs up

In its review of the film, the The New York Times wrote, “’Hav Plenty’ may be a featherweight social comedy without a political bone in its body, but its characters are refreshingly buoyant…And the movie shows you exactly how that attitude and the expectations that go with it can act as an impenetrable barrier to any real personal fulfillment.”

6. Star power

Although it was low-budget film made by a newcomer, it featured cameos from some big stars: Nia Long, Shemar Moore, and Lauryn Hill, The Neue reported. 

7. A-list music

The film’s soundtrack was produced by none other than Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds along with his then-wife, entertainment executive Tracey Edmonds. Songs were by Babyface, Jay-Z, Blackstreet, and Faith Evans, among others.

8. Major studio buy

Cherot screened the film to an audience for the first time at the Acapulco Film Festival, The Baltimore Sun reported. Tracey Edmonds, who had just had success with her first film production, “Soul Food,” saw the film screening of “Hav Plenty” and purchased rights to it on the spot. After “Hav Plenty” screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Miramax inked a deal with Edmonds and Cherot for a feature film release, according to the Chicago Tribune. Miramax also offered Cherot a multi-picture deal.

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9. At the box office

The low-budget film grossed $2,284,034, according to Box Office Mojo.

10. Life after ‘Hav Plenty’

It seems Cherot has yet to top the sudden film success of “Hav Plenty.” He directed the 2002 film “G,” which starred Blair Underwood, Chenoa Maxwell, and Andre Royo. He later started directing short films, and he directed the BET reality TV series “College Hill”, Black Film reported.