Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Denzel Washington Turned Down A Role So Racist He Thinks It Could Have Changed His Career

Jineara Hampton
One of the PRIMARY things I tell my mentee actor/filmmaker Jineara Hampton (pictured right) is “maintain
your artistic integrity!”

I tell her not to just take a role and or work on a production you think is inferior just for the experience or the money. So far she has listened. LOL.

Denzel Washington shares a story below about how he maintained his “artistic integrity”, very early in his film career, with advice from a famous “mentor” of his.

WARNING: Video contains use of the n-word.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Excellent Short Film about Equal Opportunity [VIDEO]

Short film for the African American Policy Forum, showing obstacles to equality which affirmative action tries to alleviate.

 All graphics and animation by Erica Pinto.
 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Baltimore Filmmaker Brings His Film ‘Mr. Sophistication’ to Maryland


Danny Green’s latest feature film Mr. Sophistication, starring Harry Lennix, will be the WAMMFest (Women And Minorities in Media Festival) closing night film and Danny is the 2014 WAMMFest Guest Artist! 
As the Guest Artist he will hold a Master Class and attend the screening of the film that follows with a Q&A, and reception at Towson University. (Full disclosure Danny Green is a personal friend of mine.)

Danny Green was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended Princeton University and John Hopkins University. It was at Johns Hopkins where his life turns towards filmmaking. As he explains, "I was going to Johns Hopkins, I was going to be an ambassador. I met Director John Frankenheimer while he was giving a talk at my school, and I became his assistant about three months later. Then I became an Assistant Director, and then I became a director. I was always a writer, and I was always interested in sound and vision."

Danny Green is now writing and directing his own films having joined the Directors Guild of America in 1998. He’s worked as a first or second assistant director on more than 30 Hollywood and studio feature films for directors like Barry Levinson and JJ Abrams, and many independent films.  

Danny met Harry Lennix while shooting the movie, Stomp The Yard, in 2007. He had seen him in some movies up to that point -- The Matrix Trilogy, Ray, but always felt that Lennix was a leading man, and decided to write this movie for him.

Danny's intent is for Mr. Sophistication to be “instructive and progressive” and having seen the film myself I think it is! 

As Danny explains “The situation and the characters are universal, but the way the characters handle themselves in the situations is unique. The dialogue catches the intimate moments that you rarely hear between people.  And Ron Waters has a one of a kind slant on life.” I totally agree with that as well. While watching the film I thought Ron Waters is really “laying it down” as far as his charisma and persuasion while dealing with “his women” and Lennix’s performance sells every word of it.

Harry Lennix (center) and Robert Patrick (right) in Mr. Sophistication 
I also get what Danny meant about “always felt that Lennix was a leading man”. I’ve seen many African American actors (male and female) who lend so much depth and presence to their roles that you can tell, even in the small supporting roles they may have in various films, that they CAN take on being the lead given the right project and Harry Lennix is definitely one of those people.

The film stars Harry Lennix (Man of Steel, The Blacklist, Dollhouse), Tatum O’Neal (Rescue Me), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, True Blood), Gina Torres (Suits, Serenity, Firefly), Rick Fox and introducing Paloma Guzmán.

Mr. Sophistication, the true story of comedian, Ron Waters, who was the hottest young comic in Hollywood in the 90’s, and a personal protégé of Richard Pryor. His political humor and his general “realness” made him one of a kind. His behavior as he climbed up the ladder caused such controversy that he had to leave Hollywood. After a self-imposed exile, Ron is back, having a second chance at fame. He’s also having a second chance at love – his wife wants to keep her man; the girl wants a fresh start. He wants to change the world.-WAMMFest
I enjoyed the film and I know others will too.  Believe me, you have never seen Harry Lennix like this before. 

Of course I hit Danny up to ask him how he felt about being at WAMMFest and he said “I can’t wait to represent this film in my hometown.” 

Danny is the “Guest Artist”, but WAMMFest has A LOT of great films. You can read all about the films and the WAMMFest activities at their website at http://wammtu.com/


Related Link



Thursday, February 20, 2014

'The Call-In' with Black Filmmakers [AUDIO]

AFFRM continues to expand on its services/offerings, launching its very first podcast series, which will feature conversations between AFFRM founder (and a filmmaker in her own right) Ava DuVernay, and black filmmakers from the diaspora.
Titled The Call-In, listen to DuVernay interview black filmmakers in what AFFRM describes as "casual, candid conversations focused on the craft," focusing especially on, not only the "why" questions of the filmmaking process, but also the "how."
Expect conversations that will cover almost every key stage of the production process, from writing to editing, going beyond questions of race and identity into the technical and creative process behind each filmmaker's work. —Shadow & Act
As of this publishing I've listened to all six of their podcasts and they're chock full of filmmaking knowledge. Ava asks questions about the filmmaking process that reporters just don't ask. She always gets to the essence of the filmmaking involved.

My favorite part of the podcast is when Ava asks the filmmaker about their physical presence on the set (like behind the monitors or near the actors). Every filmmaker gives a great and unique answer and makes it exciting listening.

You can check them out below.
Latest tracks by @AFFRM

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Baltimore Shot Film '25 Years'

I had the pleasure to be at the Baltimore premiere of 25 Years.

The film, shot in Baltimore and Prince Georges County Maryland, was written and directed by Maryland filmmaker Derek L. Gray

About the film:
Mark and Drew Anderson weren't born brothers but, for two boys who had lost so much, so young, their parents union meant that they would have the unbreakable bond of brotherhood, love and support through each other for the rest of their lives. Well, at least for 25 Years...

Diagnosed with cancer and losing the battle, Mark struggles to hold everything together as his family begins to fall apart. 

The film is a clever blend of two narratives as it tells the story of how these two brothers...became brothers and also shows you what their lives are now.

Of course there's a lot of family drama and almost none of it is because one of the brothers Mark is dying. There’s good performances from the cast Phillip A. Stamp as Drew and Paul R. Sieber as their father Edward, but it’s the main couple Mark and his wife Reid who as you can imagine carry the weight of the picture. Monica Smothers as Reid does a good job at playing the wife who is supporting her husband as she knows he’s dying, but as you can imagine the Lead in the film Napoleon Rogers as Mark gives the most substantial performance. Rogers couldn't be at the Baltimore Premiere because he is now living in Los Angeles pursuing his acting career and I think that’s a good choice. He has the talent and should pursue it.

I really enjoyed this locally produced film and will be looking forward to more from Derek L. Gray.

You can read more about the film at http://www.dereklgray.com/

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why I Donated to AFFRM


I donated to AFFRM because I wholeheartedly believe in what they’re doing.

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. The collective theatrically releases quality independent African-American films through simultaneous limited engagements in select cities.

Our mission at ‘Nother Brother Entertainment has always been to further propagate diverse images through development of films, and that means supporting others who do the same. The film reviews on this blog are here to highlight good black films and AFFRM is committed to doing the same.

They believe like I do that film should be seen on the BIG SCREEN and that means theatrically. Not just theatrically through staggered release around the country, but through simultaneous release. Their films open all around the country on the same day.

As you can imagine doing something like this isn’t free and it isn’t cheap. I’ve followed AFFRM online since its inception and they do a great job at promoting their films in a grassroots manner, so when it came time for them to raise money to further their mission I had to donate.

In reality, any film that makes it to the marketplace through “straight to DVD” and or VOD (Video on Demand) (digitally on televisions and other mobile devices) is great, but films were made for the cinema, the “silver screen” and AFFRM values that. I’ve also been trying online to get them to add a regular theatrical stop in Baltimore. I’ve been to many successful black indie film premieres here and I feel that there’s a market.

Anyway, I’m proud to join the other, so far over 600, AFFRM Rebels to help propagate black film!

Watch their video about becoming a Rebel below.

Click the graphic below to see the Rebel Wall of proud AFFRM Rebels


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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

John Singleton on Hollywood's 'Slavery Zeitgeist'

GUEST COLUMN by John Singleton
The Hollywood Reporter, December 18, 2013

The acclaimed director on how Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station," "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" were made outside the studio system, and what's next for African-American movies: "The chains on what can be made and what can't in Hollywood have been unshackled."

Director John Singleton on how 2013 has changed Hollywood's idea of commercial viability for African American-themed movies.

When Ryan Coogler, a newly minted USC film school grad, took his screenplay about the police killing of Oscar Grant to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab in January 2012, he had no idea what the next year would bring. Within six months, the work was in production in his native Oakland with seed money from a Chinese investor and other producers, including co-star Octavia Spencer. A year later, the picture won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance and went on a worldwide tour, garnering kudos at Cannes, Deauville and from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Not bad for a movie that cost less than a million dollars. The plain truth is, Fruitvale Station was made totally outside the Hollywood studio system and every ounce of the picture feels authentic. The lives of the people involved in the movie will never be the same.

This year has seen a number of films helmed by African-American directors that raise the bar and also many questions concerning the industry's historical outlook on what is commercial and what isn't. In a town where many executives hold six-figure positions and are basically hired to say no ad infinitum, several projects have been made outside the system and are finding commercial and critical success.

Legendary producer Laura Ziskin initially developed Lee Daniels' The Butler. The picture eventually found life with a phalanx of producers and financiers that included NBA ballplayer Michael Finley; Sheila Johnson, the ex-wife of BET's Bob Johnson; and producer Cassian Elwes. Golden Globes snubs aside, this picture will be the stuff of legend for all the success it has attained despite industry rules. What are those rules? It's black-themed, a period film and concerns the civil rights movement -- so it can't make money. Yet the $30 million movie has grossed close to $150 million worldwide with room to grow. Whatever the awards season outcome, The Butler will have changed the landscape of the industry in a positive way.

The clear awards frontrunner 12 Years a Slave never could have been made by a major Hollywood film studio. With all respect, it isn't the first to have been attempted on this subject matter. Several filmmakers over time have made slavery-based projects, albeit with fewer resources, to spotty results. What makes Steve McQueen's picture distinctive is its all-encompassing organic feel. Everything came together with this movie: the acting, by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o, among others; writing; McQueen's direction; Hans Zimmer's delicate, haunting score. It will be interesting to see how the "slavery zeitgeist" created by this picture plays out in the next year. One thing is for certain: The chains on what can be made and what can't in Hollywood have been unshackled.

RELATED
See other John Singleton Guest Columns on Hollywood here

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