Thursday, December 11, 2008


Last night (December 10th ) I went to the world premiere of BMORE HACKS and I had to share it with you all. That film is an independent motion picture directed by Maxie D. Collier. I found out about this film through an email like five days ago and was intrigued (and available) to go see it.

The picture was beautifully shot on FILM. All of you independent filmmakers may remember film. (To the uninitiated a lot of independent motion pictures are shot on digital video nowadays). The film had a terrific cast and great music. Also if you’re from Baltimore you will love to see the locations around town where the film was shot.

I encourage you all to support [black] independent film and buy a DVD or digital download. Believe me I DO NOT support projects that I don’t believe in or that I did not like. I really liked this film and I think you will too.

You can check out their social network for more information about the film at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

100 Minutes

100 Minutes is about how long it took me to vote today. For the mathematically challenged that’s 1 hour and 40 min. There were forecast of lines lasting three hours or more. Thank goodness it wasn’t like that in my area. Truthfully I was more than prepared to wait the three hours or more. Today was SO important I would have done it. I was even hyped to do it. Today was like Christmas morning I couldn’t wait to get up and cast my vote. As excited as I was, there were people there more excited than I.

There was shouting as people left the polling place, several people were taking pictures with cell phone cameras; there were even some video cameras. As a filmmaker I thought about taping the event, but I KNEW there would be many others taping and I predict that by this time tomorrow they will be like a zillion of ‘em on YouTube. The people were excited though and several even honked their horn at the line as they were leaving. One woman even had her music turned up and played a tambourine in one hand while she drove with the other, I kid you not. You can’t make stuff like that up.

Even though I didn’t videotape the event I did document it in my own way.

This is my ballot before my vote

After my vote

Right before I cast my final ballot.

Today was history in the making and I was SO GLAD to be part of it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Baltimore

This year Halloween fell on a Friday so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to create a film that captured the impish, the mischievous, the prankish, the puckish, the pixilated, in other words drunk people in costume. To be fair not all of them were drunk, but they were having a good time and so did we.

This project was a “collabo” between NBE and Central Pop Images. We went downtown Baltimore (is there any other place?) to see how many people we could get to give us permission to tape them and there were many. The people were more than eager to tell us about their costume and even act the part a little. One “Joker” even did a whole scene from The Dark Knight.

As soon as we edit the film we will put it on the Internet for everyone to see, until then, enjoy our slide show below :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The 13th Amendment [VIDEO]

An Internet contact of mine Philly's own Mike D of Reelblack is doin' it "reel" big. Forgive the pun. :(
Reelblack’s latest short film production, THE 13TH AMENDMENT was recently awarded the Grand Jury Prize for the first ever CNN IREPORT FILM FESTIVAL. IReport is CNN’s user-generated video blog. The 13th Amendment was chosen among hundreds of submissions dealing with this year’s election submitted from around the world. Grand Prize is a trip for two to his 2009 Presidential Inauguration and a hi-def video camera.

According to Mike he "chose the title The 13th Amendment to remind folks that there wasn't always a time when all Americans had the right of freedom. One of our greatest privileges is the Right To Vote. Please do it on November 4." I can't agree more.

Congrats to Mike D and his awesome company/movement, Reelblack! You can view The 13th Amendment below

You can view the award announcement at

Mike Klein's article in Philly Inquirer about the win can be viewed here: here

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hip Hop Rules

It was the fall 1999, a cold and blustery day. Okay I don’t know what the weather was and it isn’t even really relevant to this story. I just always wanted to say that like the narration to some old movie LOL. Let me try this again.

It was the fall 1999. I was looking in the course catalog for some film/television classes. I came across MCOM 430-Media Producer being taught by “White”. The first day of class I meet our instructor Rick White. I was surprised to see Rick teaching this class. You see I met Rick in 1996 when he directed my first winning script Without a Doubt. (You can read more about that at the link.) Rick is a Director/Producer from the local television station that co-produced my script, WMAR TV 2 (in Baltimore). I came in kind of late and he was showing his reel and the opening to my film was part of it. :D

Knowing his field Rick taught us how to be a television producer, showing us exactly how they produce the news among other things. Our final project was to produce our own piece and that brings me to the point of this blog entry. (It took me long enough I know).

I knew this rapper and I decided to produce a profile about him. I shot hours of footage on several different days to get some good footage. One night I met him in the studio and that’s where I interviewed his producer Mark Baltimore.

This was one of the three final production projects I had to complete. I shot all this footage with the rapper and had to edit it down to I think 10 minutes or less. When I started editing I was like wow this stuff with Mark is good. Turns out after all the hours and days I shot with the rapper Mark’s stuff was the best. Every time I showed my piece (and it wasn’t many times) people would like what Mark had to say best. Truthfully even I did and one of Mark’s sound bites closed the piece because I thought it was so strong. If I had the time I might have went back and shot the whole thing about Mark, but I was under the gun. For some dumbass reason I was taking THREE production classes. I was taking Video/Film Editing, Directing For Film and the aforementioned Media Producer. In retrospect, I should have never done it because it was grueling. Let that be a lesson boy and girl film students, DO NOT take three production classes in one semester. It was our final project and I had to finish it. It took me about 14 hours to edit the piece down and I got it down to around 5 minutes.

This re-edited piece is all Mark Baltimore. I combined the “old school” ‘Nother Brother opening with new ‘Nother Brother animation. I threw in some quick transitions to break up what I thought was the best stuff he had to say. Most of it is from the original piece, but I included NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE. (I always wanted to say that too.) There really is no clear narrative to this re-edited piece, it’s basically sound bites strung together. I kept the same music and the same “strong sound bite” closes the piece along with the “old school” ‘Nother Brother closing. I digitized the original project and then went and found the original footage and digitized some of that. (Never lose your footage boy and girl film students; you never know when you might need it.) I rushed this re-edited piece also, but before you say some people never learn let me explain. I didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on this because I am still editing The Part . I also wanted to show some of the hard, hard work I did in college. Okay it wasn’t that hard (LOL). You never know, if this gets like a gazillion hits I might shoot an update with Mark.

For the filmmakers, I originally edited this with Media 100 editing software and the new edit was done with Avid. By the way I got a B in the class. :D

Well here it is no real frills just “The Rules”. First, a WARNING the video contains explicit language. Having said that...ladies and gentlemen Mark Baltimore

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

CAmm I am

Since 1995, The Creative Alliance (pictured left) has promoted Baltimore, Maryland as a dynamic center of art in all genres. With members ranging from artists and educators to neighbors and supporters, The Creative Alliance cultivates community through collaboration.
The Creative Alliance is based in the old Patterson Theater hence their full name The Creative Alliance at The Patterson. I'm a member of CAmm, the Creative Alliance MovieMakers.
Creative Alliance MovieMakers (CAmm), a media resource group, offers workshops, screenings, equipment, and networking to folks who work in (and/or love) film, video and digital media. Created by artists working in film, video, and digital media, Creative Alliance MovieMakers’ mission is to establish Baltimore as a national center for distinctive and significant film and new media-making. Building on Baltimore’s heritage of original voices, CAmm cultivates a community that supports the creation and promotion of innovative work in film, video and new media.
I started going to the Creative Alliance because of CAmm events, screenings, workshops, etc. They have other artist events, workshops etc, but as you know, I’m all about film. They have the CAmm Cine Lounge (formerly the CAmm Salon).

Two of Baltimore’s most important filmmaker programs merge to make one powerhouse professional and networking opportunity for filmmakers and actors!CAmm Salon and Cinema Lounge team up as the NEW CAmm Cine Lounge! Cinema Lounge, the vibrant film gathering formerly at Gardel’s, moves to The Patterson, merging its lively following with the CAmm Salon’s detailed critiques and short format screenings.
Cinema Lounge’s Stacie Gentzler (Black Ink Films) hosts! Bring your new film or work in progress (max length 15min) for critical conversation with your peers(plus written feedback!) Bring business cards, headshots, press packets, etc for our info exchange tables! Networking power hour w/ drink specials finishes the night!
The Salon (yeah Imma call it the Salon for a minute) is a great way to see what other filmmakers are doing and give your feedback. To be a filmmaker you must, first MAKE FILM, then you must WATCH other films. In my opinion to be a good filmmaker you must always be a student of film. I have to make a concerted effort to just WATCH a film and not analyze it. As a filmmaker you are always saying WOW that’s a beautiful shot, that’s a cool camera movement etc. At the Salon you can admire and critique people just like you...independent filmmakers. I suggest if you are a filmmaker you get down to the CAmm Cine Lounge (okay I said it) and not only see films, but meet other filmmakers; plus remember...bring plenty of business cards.
The Creative Alliance also offers the CAmm Cage.
Based in traditional film, digital video and new media technologies, CAmm also offers access to affordable production equipment rental.
They have a blog @ You can see a video about the CAmm cage below.
You can go to Creative Alliance’s website at

Monday, September 29, 2008

How and ‘Y’ I started directing television [VIDEO]

I directed a lot of stuff in college, but it was all film directing. I took a class in “TV Studio Operation”, but because it was like 30 of us in the class I never got around to directing. It was years later that I actually got a chance to direct television.

Everybody at work knew about my background in media. I kinda let everybody know that I was a “superstar”, I won some contest , had my degree in film and get to know me now before I become famous (more famous? LOL). One of those people who knew about all of that was Duane Murrill. Again because of my background Murrill and I would often talk about movies and when he started hosting this new show he told me I should come check it out. I did and met the producer and creator of the show Arleen. The show is shot in a television studio donated for public use by Howard County Comcast (in Maryland). It's free to use the equipment; all you have to do is volunteer to be there to run the show.

Said show “The Y-Factor” is a one-hour discussion talk show about relationships between men and women. The host, Duane Murrill, asks questions to a roundtable of 2 to 4 people. It's a free flow of discussion about everything it involved. Murrill is a great host because, and I don’t think I’m putting him out here, he knows a lot about relationships and he knows how to talk! A mutual friend of ours (what’s up Faye) asked “is he a good host” and I said “Of course. You know Murrill can talk!” LOL

I started on the show working one of the cameras. Soon I was directing. As director I am in the control room viewing studio action through a set of television monitors. Each one links to one of the three studio cameras and I issue instructions to the cameramen. I also set up microphones and set layout. Some times, if needed I work the camera on the floor while Arleen directs, wherever she needs me.

I haven’t directed The Y-Factor in a while for two reasons. One, is my schedule is busy because I’m trying to expand the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment brand and work on my short film The Part. (I know that’s two things, but bear with me.) Two, (or three if you want to be technical) is when I am available I like to work on Arleen’s new show 15 Minutes of Fame (I spoke about it in the blog post here). I miss the Y-Factor not only because it’s where I got my start directing, it’s a fun show to not only watch, but to direct. Sometimes I have to stop watching and laughing and concentrate on directing LOL. I think I’m going to ask Arleen if I can I direct the Y-Factor again next month.

The Y-Factor gets down without being dirty about the good and bad of relationships. If you think they go soft on the talk because it’s on television you’re wrong. They get quite frank without being lewd and raunchy. Like philosopher and psychologist William James said “Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” and the Y-Factor has plenty of attitude!

Thanx again Arleen for this great experience and of course my main man Murrill for introducing me to Arleen.

You can watch a clip from one of the first shows below.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

15 Minutes of Fame

I’ve talked about my “day job” so now it’s time for the “night job”. Sometimes in the evening I direct public access television shows. We shoot in television studios donated for public use by cable companies. It's free to use the equipment; all you have to do is volunteer to be there to run the shows. We tape this show in the Howard County Comcast public access studio (in Maryland). As director I am in the control room viewing studio action through a set of television monitors. Each one links to one of the three studio cameras and I issue instructions to the cameramen. While the action goes on I switch to one of the three cameras while we record it. I also set up microphones and set layout. Sometimes, if needed I work the camera on the floor while the producer directs, wherever the producer needs me.

One of those shows is the new 15 Minutes of Fame. Below is its intro.

I actually started directing that other show mentioned “The Y-Factor”, but recently I have been concentrating on “15Mins” as we call it. Below is a segment of one of the first shows if not THE first show I directed. The set looks empty because we had to move the set because the singer needed room for her dancers. There are three songs and the dancers appear in the last song.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

My First Day

After taking care of all of the administrative stuff for my new assignment (paperwork, parking space etc.) I immediately went on a video shoot. In fact I was in the garage on the way back from parking my car in my new space when my peeps from the Media Production Unit (what's up Laylla and Gino) gave me the tripod and said let's go we're on our way to the van.

It had been years since I had my hands on a professional video camera (in school) , but it was like riding a bike. I jumped right in! It was a FREEZING cold February day. I had nice insulated leather gloves that I COULDN'T operate the camera with so I had to take them off to shoot the video. :(

You'll see the purpose of the video, but it was requested (by the guy in the video) because of the many "Larceny from auto" crimes in the area to air as a PSA.

A public service announcement (PSA) is a non-commercial advertisement broadcast on radio or television, ostensibly for the public good. PSAs are intended to modify public attitudes by raising awareness about specific issues. Television stations are required by law to allot a certain amount of time for PSA's each year.

Below is a famous 1987 PSA

Below is the kickass 1998 "remix" with actor Rachael Leigh Cook.

The video from our PSA wasn't taken from a "street camera" it is a recreation. Actually that opening shot from the street sign to the "criminal" is one of mine :)

A mini van was towed from the police impound lot to that street for the recreation. Here are some cell phone photos I took "after the smash".

We only had one chance to get the smash so we had to do it last and get it right. Good thing too because the actor cut his hand during it. (He was fine. A bandage was all he needed.)

Anyway, our PSA (below) wasn't as slickly produced as those anti drug ads, but I like it the most was my first day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What’s In A Name, Mine Specifically

As production on my film progresses I’m going through sort of a name change. My real name is Donald Dankwa Brooks. That’s the name I go by when I write scripts. My Internet name when I write is “Cool Black”, but that is another blog, another entry.

My directing name is Dankwa Brooks. No I’m not getting like Puffy, I mean P. Diddy, I mean Diddy, I mean Sean Combs. It’s not that complicated.

My friends and family already call me Dankwa and variations thereof “Dank”, “Danky” and such. I think it’s unique enough to stand out like Arsenio, OprahCher? Not quite that far, but you get the idea.

When I first became famous…well famous might be a vainglorious term to describe it. When I first became known (by more than friends and family of course), when I won that contest, I decided to use my full name. I thought “Donald Brooks” or even “Donald D. Brooks” sounded plain and ordinary and I’m so much more than ordinary, maybe even extraordinary or just extra ordinary.

What does Dankwa mean? To paraphrase a line from Pulp Fiction “I’m American, our names don’t mean sh*t”. But seriously the only thing I know is that it’s African, from what I can tell an African surname. I never did get a clear origin of my name from my mother and when I was a kid I thought it was weird and even on occasion told people the D in Donald D. Brooks stood for David.

Exactly how to pronounce Dankwa is simple. It’s pronounced just like it’s spelled Dan-kwa. The “kwa” is pronounced like “claw”. If you mispronounce it that’s fine, you won’t be the first, won’t be the last. In the past I have been called “Dankwon”, "Dank-wuh" and one person even called me “Jaguar”. I never felt the need to correct the “Jaguar guy” because it was never that serious.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Here's to the Heroes

This is one of the few videos I have worked on at Baltimore Police that is public. Most of the stuff I work on is strictly internal and not for public dissemination.

Anyway, here is the video. Much props to Gino who edited this fantastic piece and to the rest of the unit who worked on this for about a year before I got a chance to add my input. All of the people who worked on it is named in the credits.

Without further adieu...the Heroes.


Here are some new public videos I worked on at Baltimore Police in chronological order

From August 2009

From May 2009

I didn't work on this last slideshow, but supplied editorial input.
From February 2009