Saturday, March 28, 2015

Casting Info: Great Voice Acting Advice from Andrea Romano & 'Empire' Casting [AUDIO & VIDEO]

Voice director and casting director Andrea Romano chats with host Chris Hardwick about her long career as being a casting director and voice director in animation and working on shows such as Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series, Pinky and The Brain, Animaniacs, The Smurfs and many, many more. 

She also gives her advice for anyone who wants a career in voice acting as well as EXACTLY where you can go to get voice work. She is a legend in the industry, look her up or LISTEN below and you'll see why. Romano


Empire's Casting Director Leah Daniels-Butler (sister of show creator Lee Daniels) talks about how and why she made the casting decisions for the breakout show on the AfterBuzz TV online broadcast network.

In a recent article Daniels-Butler states
"Rather than focus on who is not on ‘Empire’ we should be celebrating the actors who are doing amazing work week after week," Daniels Butler said in a press release. "Fans are in love with Cookie and Lucious because the actors who give life to the characters they portray are delivering award winning performances."

"There so many wonderful people that help make this show a #1, like the fantastic job Jussie Smollet (Jamal Lyons) is doing, and I cannot say enough about Kaitlin Doubleday (Rhonda Lyons) who had the unique challenge of filling a diversity role and does it seamlessly,” she added. “Why not celebrate those people?"

After discovering the likes of Gabourey Sidibe for the lead role in 2009’s “Precious,” Daniels-Butler also went on to praise the “growth” of breakout star Bryshere Y. Gray and applauded the musicianship of the “enormously talented" Ta'Rhonda Jones.—Huffington Post

You can go directly to the segment she talks about here and you can watch the entire show below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Visually Stunning Film 'Jonah' [VIDEO & REVIEW]


Directed by Kibwe Tavares
Written by Jack Thorne

Produced by Ivana MacKinnon, Fiz Oliver
Executive Producers - Katherine Butler, Ollie Madden, Chris Collins, Phil Dobree, Eva Yates

Editor - Adam Biskupsi
Cinematographer - Chloe Thomson
Production Designer: Paul Nicholls & Jonathan Gales
Visual Effects Supervisor: Paul Nicholls


Daniel Kaluuya
Malachi Kirby
and Louis Mahoney

Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn't what he dreamed – and when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive.


This visually stunning film is an example of how success can change a community and a friendship. Everyone wants success, but can they handle that success? The film starts out with great humor and excitement and then before your eyes turns into a visual delight.

As the ENTIRE FILM is below my commentary, I don't feel the need to go further. See for yourself. Who said change is good? Be careful watch you wish for.

Never even heard of this film before this event tonight

 As a proud AFFRM Maverick I always get notifications of events like this and get to discover pure gems like this film. Founded in 2011, African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement a.k.a. AFFRM is a theatrical distribution entity powered by the nation’s finest black film festival organizations.They have been holding steadfast to pushing and promoting black films like Jonah and I think that is great! I never heard of this film, but because of AFFRM I'm glad I have!

Linked below are many of the posts about AFFRM here at the 'Nother Brother Entertainment blog below the film.

Additional Links
I have written about AFFRM extensively on this blog since its inception. See all the posts here

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Excellent Film About Academy Awards Diversity [VIDEO]

The Huffington Post put together an excellent short film about diversity at the Academy Awards. In 2010 on our Sista blog Cool Black Media I put together a list, African American Milestones at the Academy Awards, detailing a lot of what is stated in this film.

Diversity in film has been a recurring theme on our blog and you can read those posts via the graphic below the video.

CLICK the graphic below to see all of our blog posts about diversity

Friday, January 9, 2015

Selma – Review

Directed by Ava DuVernay

Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christian Colson & Oprah Winfrey

Written by Paul Webb

Cinematography by Bradford Young

Released: December 25, 2014 (USA)

David Oyelowo
Carmen Ejogo
Tim Roth
Omar Dorsey
Andre Holland
Colman Domingo
Wendell Pierce
Tessa Thompson
Keith Stanfield
 Stephan James
Henry G. Sanders
Trai Byers
Tom Wilkinson
 Oprah Winfrey

Synopsis: A chronicle of the campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, based on the 1965 marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and John Lewis of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

REVIEW: The word I can best describe Selma is POWERFUL. Director Ava DuVernay took NO time getting to the crux of the matter and letting you know, this isn’t going to be all kumbaya. The film as the title suggest is about SELMA and not just Martin Luther King Jr.  Selma deftly incorporates the many, many people it took to make this movement happen. We all have seen the people marching, but not much about the strategy, the organization that it took to coordinate it all. Selma also lets you see the honest discourse and how even when the organizers had many discussions about the direction of their movement, that in the end they all agreed on the same accord. We also get to see the dissertate between MLK and the president Lyndon Johnson.

There were also across the board great performances. David Oyelowo was really fantastic as MLK and gave life and powerful vigor to speeches written by the uncredited director herself Ava DuVernay. (The credited writer Paul Webb’s original contract stipulated that he’s entitled to sole screenwriting credit should he so desire it and he desired it.)

Another one of my favorite performances in the film came from Carmen Ejogo who played Coretta Scott King. She had so many great scenes in Selma and I’m going to say it, she probably wouldn’t have gotten such great scenes from a male filmmaker.

Lastly in a small, yet pivotal role I have to mention Henry G. Sanders who played Cager Lee (the 82 year old grandfather of Jimmie Lee Jackson) who gave one of the most superb singular performances I’ve seen in film 2014.

I‘d be remiss to not mention the costumes by Ruby E. Carter. Ms. Carter, an Oscar nominated Costume Designer, did not disappoint in Selma. Everyone was dressed to perfection in period clothing and by the below side by side pic alone from Ebony magazine you can tell her flawlessness.

Costume Designer Ruby E. Carter used an Ebony cover (right) to recreate the looks for David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo (right) based on what Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King wore during their historic march.
Photo: AP Photo; Paramount Pictures/Atsushi Nishijima
The period costumes were essential transporting you to the period.

The King estate also didn’t give the filmmakers license to use any of King's speeches. According to The Wrap "That forced DuVernay to write her own speeches for MLK, and an individual familiar with her contribution to the writing process tells The Wrap that the director performed “a page-one rewrite” on Webb’s original screenplay, changing the perspective of the story, adding nearly a dozen new characters and coming up with a new third act — the most crucial part of any script." I thought DuVernay did a great job at capturing the “essence of King” in the speeches she wrote.

Selma wasn’t all strategy and speeches as it didn’t hesitate at all to show the brutality involved in the civil rights movement and those scenes are where the film holds its power. Her staging coupled with the great cinematography of Bradford Young made crucial scenes stand out. Truthfully I’ve been a fan of DuVernay’s since she started directing feature films and even I had not expected Selma to be so hard hitting.

This was Ava DuVernay’s biggest film to date, most pivotal film to date and despite many obstacles she achieved something special. What makes this terrific film such an achievement is that days later you are still thinking about its message, its power, its history.

Click below to read more info about:
Selma to Montgomery marches
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why Novelists Don’t Write Films

Below is a great article describing what I think are a lot of legitimate reasons why screenwriting and novel writing are different skill-sets.  

Novel writing is more detailed to give you visuals and screenwriting is  mostly dialogue and situations. It's up to the film director to create the visuals. 

Why Novelists Don’t Write Films

Novelist Gillian Flynn has made Gone Girl a hit—not once, but twice. The film adaptation of her 2012 best-selling book has earned $77.9 million at the box office as of press time, taking the top spot both weekends since its release. The fact that Flynn wrote the film’s screenplay—which has garnered critical raves and could earn her an Oscar nod—lands her on a tiny list of authors who have successfully brought their books to life on the screen. (Only five have won Oscars for doing it.)

It’s a wonder more authors don’t make the jump to screenwriting, especially when studios are hungrier than ever for popular literary brands such as The Fault in Our Stars and The Silver Linings Playbook (not to mention, you know, The Hunger Games). So why don’t more novelists adapt their own work? Short answer: They’re usually bad at it.

”The two big differences between books and movies are pace and perspective,” says screenwriter and cohost of the popular Scriptnotes podcast John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). ”Novels can luxuriate in internal moments of indecision and longing. Movies keep chugging along at 24 frames per second.” Flynn’s adaptation—which August says he ”desperately wanted to write”—soars because she was willing to trim the fat, cutting subplots and even characters.

”You start making the cuts that are really painful,” Flynn says of her kill-your-darlings approach. ”There are certain scenes that I would just hang on to. I knew, ultimately, they were going to go. I just couldn’t quite do it yet.” Through a series of drafts and five-hour phone calls with director David Fincher—”He very much likes to see the beginning, middle, and end of a scene”—the final product came together. ”There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent two years painstakingly putting together, taking a hammer to it, bashing it apart, and reassembling it into a movie,” she says.

Flynn’s agility, however, is uncommon. ”Usually I don’t want my authors to take a pass at writing screenplays because it’s a different skill set,” says literary agent Douglas Stewart, who represents Silver Linings author Matthew Quick. (Director David O. Russell earned an Oscar nomination for writing the adaptation.) ”A lot of authors want to do it, and I think it’s a rare case where an author should do it.”

Creative control aside, screenwriting holds financial appeal for authors. Rights to a novel are pretty cheap—optioning will often earn writers less than their initial book advance—but a screenwriting assignment can pay well into six figures. Yet an author pushing to adapt her or his own novel can backfire; insisting on right of first refusal before the development deal is finalized can put the project in permanent limbo. Studios, agents say, only want authors involved in the screenplay if they’re A-listers. (And even then it’s risky: Jonathan Tropper’s recent adaptation of his novel This Is Where I Leave You elicited lukewarm reviews and failed to impress at the box office. That may not be his fault, but it doesn’t exactly put studios at ease.)

All that said, Gone Girl could be a harbinger of a shift in industry thinking on the matter. Eleanor & Park‘s Rainbow Rowell is writing the film adaptation of her beloved coming-of-age tale for DreamWorks Studios, while Beautiful Ruins author Jess Walter is co-writing a script version of his book with director Todd Field (Little Children). Could one of them be the next Gillian Flynn? ”The smart novelist writes the best book she can and lets the movie be the best movie it can be,” says August. ”There’s no victory in a faithful adaptation if the result is mediocre.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Belle — Review

Directed by Amma Asante
Produced by Damian Jones
Written by Misan Sagay
Cinematography by Ben Smithard
Production Designer Simon Bowles
Costume Designer Anushia Nieradzik
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Tom Wilkinson
Miranda Richardson
Penelope Wilton
Sam Reid
Matthew Goode
Emily Watson

Released: May 2, 2014 (USA)

Summary: Set in 18th century England, Dido Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy officer, lives in poverty with her mother in England. After the death of her mother, Dido's father takes her to the family estate, placing her in the care of his uncle, Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice and his wife, who live at Kenwood House estate in London. Though the social mores of the time make Dido an outsider, she is educated and raised in the Mansfield house as an aristocrat alongside her cousin Elizabeth. (Portions from Wikipedia)

Review: Belle is a wonderful film at its core a portrait of a woman born into privilege, but can’t exercise her full privilege because of the color of her skin. The film establishes early on that Dido is an heiress, her father having left her a large portion of his estate. She does not need to get married like her cousin Elizabeth because she is already rich. Because of the time of 18th century all women must be married to be “proper” she and her cousin, who is more like her sister, go about the courting rituals even while Dido is slightly discriminated against. I say slightly because her uncle, the man who raised her Lord Mansfield, gives her every privilege he can without upsetting social standards of the era.

As the film opens up with the subtitle: “The year is 1769. Britain is a colonial empire and a slave trading capital” you can tell that they are going to mention slavery. There are NO slaves in the film, yet the story deftly weaves in the story of Gregson v. Gilbert aka the Zong Massacre. Dido is a woman of means so she could have stayed above the fray and lived her entitled life, yet she becomes very interested in the case and especially a young man, John Davinier, involved in the case. Her burgeoning relationship with Davinier is a ripe love story waiting to happen as the portrayers of Belle and Davinier have AMAZING chemistry. Their chemistry makes you root for their love story even though Dido agreed to marry another man. Yes there is a love triangle, but it’s never played for melodrama and the other issues of the story, the case, the social standing of Dido and her cousin Elizabeth, the wonderful sisterhood Dido and Elizabeth share help make it a well rounded story.

The performances in the film are great as well. Tom Wilkinson, who is great in like everything I’ve seen him in, does another great job here as well and this time he gets to do it in his native tongue (He always plays Americans). Sarah Gadon is great as Dido’s cousin Elizabeth, a flustered young woman because she must find a husband to maintain her social standing. Because Dido does not need a husband this causes minor jealousy, but not much. At the core they are sisters and they show that. Sam Reid as John Davinier is terrific and imbues passion and dedication not only to his case, but to Dido. His performance makes you not only believe, but feel his devotedness. 

Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid in Belle

This film, as it should be, belongs to the talented Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays the title character Belle. From the moment you see her as an adult you witness charm, intelligence, at times a fierceness and always effortless grace. Without saying a word you can tell that this is a woman of intelligence and elegance. This was the first Lead role I’ve seen her in and she was magnificent.

Director of Belle Amma Asante
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful directing job by Amma Asante and her design team Production Designer Simon Bowles and Costume Designer Anushia Nieradzik who brought this period piece to life. The aristocrats of Belle never looked or lived better. All the costumes beautiful, all the homes lavish. Under Asante’s direction the film expertly weaved the facets of Dido’s maturation, the love story, as well as the case of the Zong Massacre into a tale that could have easily seemed bloated or lack—direction, yet did not.

I’m not a fan of films from the Romantic Era (Romanticism), but the good buzz about this film featuring a woman of color drew me in and I loved it. Belle is a terrific film.

Commentary: After the good buzz, I saw this film in theaters in June. In November I Live Tweeted my rewatching of the film on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment Twitter. You can see my initial reaction in June, the tweets and also some of the responses I got via the Storify below.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Safety on the Set - The Story of Sarah Jones [VIDEO]

Ever since this tragedy happened I’ve wanted to write about it. When I read about the details I was just astonished at what seemed like an egregious disregard for safety. There seemed to be so many simple precautions that could have and should been taken in case something like what unfortunately did happen—happened. One person was killed, but several others were injured, all in the name of making a movie.

As I’ve stated before, “I’m aware that sometimes as an independent filmmaker you must also try to get some footage “guerrilla style”, and don’t have money or time to get the proper notifications and permits, but sometimes you must be smart and err on the side of caution and safety.”

Back in February 2014 The Hollywood Reporter wrote an excellent piece (Linked below) about the tragedy and in October 2014 the ABC News program 20/20 did a story about it which includes never before seen footage of the actual train collision as well as interviews with Sarah’s family and co-workers.

You can watch the multiple 20/20 segments below


 I share a personal safety issue on the set in the post

Gunplay in Film

Sarah Elizabeth Jones was a camera assistant on the film Midnight Rider when she was struck and killed by a train on set in rural Georgia February 20, 2014. The Hollywood Reporter did an extensive feature on the accident HERE

My Twitter friend Cinematographer Cybel Martin wrote a great related piece. Can Guerrilla Filmmaking Become an Addiction? My Thoughts on the Tragic Loss of Sarah Jones