Friday, March 25, 2011

The BEST Movie I've Ever Seen —About Making a Movie

BAADASSSSS! is a 2003 American biopic, written, produced, directed by, and starring Mario Van Peebles. The film is based on the struggles of Van Peebles' father Melvin Van Peebles (played by Mario himself), as he attempts to film and distribute Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, a film that was widely credited with causing Hollywood to create the blaxploitation genre in order to try to market films to the black audience which it proved existed.

The film also stars Joy Bryant, Nia Long, Ossie Davis, Paul Rodriguez, Rainn Wilson and Terry Crews.

Of Baadasssss! Roger Ebert said "It's one of the best movies I've ever seen about the making of a movie." and I TOTALLY AGREE. An excellent film!

Baadasssss! Wikipedia page- !

Watch Ebert's review below.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Diversity in Hollywood 2011 and Beyond

Yes there is a big diversity problem as there has ever been in Hollywood. I personally started my company to try in my little way to combat that. Hence the mission of 'Nother Brother Entertainment is "To further propagate diverse images through development of films."

I was tired of seeing substandard television in particular featuring African Americans ...something I have been keenly following for about 20 years now and I totally agree with the excerpts below.

Below is an excerpt from the editorial "SURVEY – It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up! (About That “Hollywood Whiteout” Problem)-February 24th, 2011" at the great website Shadow & Act

Loooong time readers of Shadow And Act will be familiar with what follows below – initially posted on May 29th, 2009, almost 2 years ago, and only about a month after Shadow And Act was launched. Seems like an eternity. But it’s been a fun ride.

In light of recent articles and the conversations that they inspired, I thought I’d repost it as, in effect, my response to all the noise. I’m referring specifically to the New York Times article titled Hollywood Whiteout, by Mahnola Dargis and A.O. Scott, that was printed on February 11th. ...

That article was sent to me by several of you, wondering if I would respond to it on S&A, but I really have had no interest in doing so. It seems like an annual occurrence now – mainstream media articles are written lamenting/criticizing/analyzing the film industry’s “diversity problem.” We all share them, discuss them, etc, but, ultimately, little, if anything, actually changes… until the next year, when the cycle only repeats itself and another batch of “Hollywood Whiteout”-style pieces are written, shared, discussed, and so on.

So… what I see and hear here is just more of the same – a lot of analysis, criticism and whining, with little actual action to go along with it. And I’m over that! I also see a lot of reaction instead of proaction. The New York Times (or some other mainstream media site) pens a critique of the film industry’s so-called diversity problem, written by whites usually, and we all jump… because it’s the New York Times. Meanwhile, here on Shadow And Act, we’ve been talking about this sh** forever; and not only just talking about it, there’s actually action to support all the talk! Eff the New York Times! I don’t need them to tell me that there’s a diversity problem! Do you? Isn’t it evident? Hasn’t it been evident since the medium was invented? We’re certainly not the first to have these discussions. Our parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents had the exact same discussions.
Written by Tambay-Shadow & Act read the entire editorial and excellent discussion (in their comments section) at their website here

I don't have much more to say than those sections I excerpted above. IT HAS been the same ol’ song and things probably won’t change that much. We just have to do what we can to ensure that our stories are being told. There have been success stories like the independent film I Will Follow (Read more about that here  and the return of a cancelled show (which NEVER happens) The Game (Read more about that here  )

Ultimately I recently came to the realization that as much as WE (African Americans) want to see our images and stories on the screen so do THEY (Caucasians) and they control the studios, distribution etc.

I have tried to explain distribution and give light to a new distribution model for African American films at the links below.
Why Distribution is Important

The NEW Black distribution model

I also post many articles at our sister blog Cool Black Media
Lack of Diversity at Oscars 2011

African Americans at the Oscars

UPDATE: April 8, 2011-I posted a follow up Diversity in Hollywood 2011 and Addendum

Finally, I also agree with what Roland Martin and Anthony Mackie said below.


UPDATE: April 8, 2011-I posted a follow up Diversity in Hollywood 2011 and Addendum

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Distribution is Important

Really the whole point of film festivals is to secure distribution deals for good movies. The three most prestigious film festivals are commonly regarded to be Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Festival and Sundance Film Festival. Of course there is also Tribeca and South By Southwest (commonly spelled SXSW).

Distribution deals help get your film into theaters and other/further platforms: DVD, cable and network TV. Other rights can include soundtrack CDs, posters, games, toys and other merchandising.

A distributor already has a relationship and connections with all of these outlets. It’s the difference between trying (emphasis on trying) to get a meeting with ONE distributor like (Disney owned) Buena Vista and someone who can and WILL get a meeting with Buena Vista and SEVEN other companies. Buena Vista will probably not let you near the building. Sometimes a lot of films with big stars won’t secure distribution through the festival circuit.

Of course there are new trends like online distribution, but securing a distribution deal especially for a picture that costs several million dollars will offer a ROI (return on investment). There is also a new distribution model I talked about here where a network of theaters across the nation is committed to showing several black movies in a strictly grassroots (word of mouth) means.

The whole point of making a film is to get it seen by an audience. Distribution will further that goal.

To further crystallize I have this funny story.

I want to compare two African American films I saw last year. Since I have made it a practice NOT to diss a bad movie on my blog, for I know what hard work it is to get a movie made, I will call one movie "Bad Movie X" or BMX and the other which I do like…Night Catches Us or NCU.

A friend of mine calls me up and says I want you to check out this movie. I say what is this some vampire flick? (She likes vampires). She said no check this movie out. I say ok. What I saw was the most ridiculous crap I ever seen. It wasn’t satire like ‘Don’t Drink Your Juice in the Hood’ or whatever it’s called. It was supposed to be drama. I have to say that she is not into film like me, but even she could see what a bad film this was. I told her it looked like they had some money to shoot this though. It looked like at least $1 million to me. Surprisingly we BOTH wanted to see this movie. We thought maybe it’s better than it looks.

I checked and BMX was playing in like seven theaters in Maryland. We saw it at a theater with the other two couples there (six people total audience) and…our instincts weren’t wrong. BOY was it bad. About halfway through I turned to her and said “Is this supposed to be a comedy?” The acting, story…just bad.

After I see a great movie I like to read all about it (Wikipedia/IMDb etc.) and weirdly I had the same desire of research for this movie. I subsequently found out that:
  • BMX had a Domestic Total Gross of $2,595,644 with a Production Budget of $1.6 million.
  • Night Catches Us had a Domestic Total Gross of $76,185 with a N/A Production Budget.
I also found out that BMX was distributed by Bad Movie Releasing (not the real name) who has distributed about 2 films a year since 2006 according to my research.

I think it’s a shame that a good movie like Night Catches Us can’t get distributed in theaters in Maryland and this one could. NCU was picked up by Magnolia Pictures and it was THEIR choice to distribute it on OnDemand and iTunes which they probably had NO problem doing so. Magnolia will help NCU in the long run get into MORE media outlets. Bad Movie Releasing will get their movie out there, but not like Magnolia.

Say Bad Movie Releasing will get 10 DVDs to Netflix while Magnolia will get 50 DVDs to Netflix. Something like ‘Transformers 2’ will get like 150-200, but that’s the environment.

Personally I like seeing bad movies as much as I like seeing good ones. Yes it wastes my time, but you have to see the bad to know what NOT to do.

You can read what I had to say about Night Catches Us (and another great film) here

Related posts-
The NEW Distribution Model

Related link-
A more technical breakdown of film distribution can be found at
How Movie Distribution Works

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Lee

Today is the birthday of Shelton Jackson Lee, better known as Spike Lee. His early works influenced me to become a filmmaker and I am a huge fan of his overall body of work. I have posted many articles about him at our sista blog Cool Black Media and you can read those articles at the links below.

Happy Birthday Mr. Lee and many more to come.

Cool Black Media links

Brooklyn Week Inauguration

No Fued-Spike Lee & Tyler Perry

Another Spike Lee Joint Joins the National Film Registry

 CLICK the button to see ALL of
our blog posts about SPIKE LEE
@ Cool Black Media



Why I Donated to Spike Lee’s Fundraising Campaign

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fifteen Things to Prepare for when Making a Film

Even though I have been to film school there's the great article at Really relevant stuff...and if I didn't agree with it I wouldn't have posted right?

Fifteen Things to Prepare for when Making a Film
Check it out at the link below-

Monday, March 14, 2011

Social Media Has Got 'Game'

Twitter: The Reason Behind BET's Surprise Success for 'The Game'

by Marisa Guthrie, Jose Antonio Vargas - The Hollywood Reporter

On Jan. 12, Hollywood collectively gasped when ratings were released for the previous night's series premiere on BET.

The show drew an extraordinary 7.7 million viewers. After the TV industry overcame its shock, the next question was, "What was the name of that show again?"

In fact, fans of The Game — and they are legion — have been pining for the show's return since the CW axed it in 2009. A grass-roots social media campaign combined with a dearth of scripted programming for African-American viewers helped juice tune-in to unprecedented levels. Game set a record as the most-watched scripted-series premiere ever on ad-supported cable. And it was the second-most-watched program in BET’s 30-year history, behind only the 2009 BET Awards, which aired three days after Michael Jackson died and pulled in 10.2 million viewers.

"The social networking movement really kept the fan base alive," says David Wilson, founder and managing editor of African-American news site "A lot of people who hadn’t seen the show picked up on it through social media. And that really united the show’s fan base."

But The Game wasn't exactly burning up mainstream-media buzz meters. There was no full-blitz ad campaign like the wall-to-wall promos for American Idol, just a smattering of billboards around town and a handful of reviews. In fact, Game’s news cycle had probably peaked in April, when BET and CBS Television Studios announced they were partnering to produce new episodes of the show. But if you looked a littler closer in the online world, the dramedy about pro football player Derwin (Pooch Hall) and his wife Melanie (Tia Mowry) was a very hot topic on Twitter and Facebook.

"I heard a lot of people had FB statuses that night that said, "Don't bother me from 10 to 11, I'm watching The Game!" says Debra Lee, CEO and chairwoman of BET Networks. "People also used the show’s photos as their profile pics."

And so it is, just as execs are still getting their heads around digital streaming and DVRs, TV in the Twitter era has become an invaluable weapon in the race for ratings.

A spinoff of the 2000-08 CW sitcom Girlfriends, Game averaged 2.3 million viewers in its first season on the CW (2006-07), climbing to 2.5 million in its second. But by Season 3, the CW had begun to target young women with dramas including zeitgeist hit Gossip Girl, and Game was shunted to the Friday night graveyard, where it languished, finishing the season with an average viewership of 1.8 million. Creator and executive producer Mara Brock Akil tried in vain to convince the CW to turn Game into an hour drama while the show's cast launched a YouTube campaign called "Save The Game."

When the CW canceled it anyway, producers Brock Akil and Kelsey Grammer sold Game to BET, which began running off-net reruns. By that time, broadcast TV had become rather monochromatic. The CW — the last redoubt for shows that spoke directly to African-American audiences — had canceled Girlfriends in 2008, and Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris finished its four-season run the year before.

Game, observes Brad Adgate, senior vp research at Horizon Media, "helps fill a void on television."

"A lot of networks have abandoned African-American viewers," Wilson adds. "There are actually fewer shows, particularly scripted shows, for African-Americans than there were in the '90s," he adds, rattling off a slew of network comedies of yesteryear including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Cosby Show and its spinoff A Different World. "So The Game is bound to get a lot of attention."

To take advantage of that attention, BET embarked on a multifaceted and social media-oriented marketing campaign. Its digital division monitored social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter; and instead of creating its own Facebook page for the show, executives found 35-year-old Stacey Mattocks, an insurance agent from Miramar, Fla., who created a page for The Game on her own while the sitcom was still on the CW. BET brought Mattocks onto the team part-time and paid her to run the page. Mattocks even attended the show’s BET premiere and walked the red carpet. The Facebook page now has more than 3.5 million members, up from 3 million in April. The official Twitter feed — @BETTheGame, which BET uses to tweet tune-in reminders and links to preview clips — has only 133,278 followers; BET as a whole has 279,000 followers on its feed. But all those followers have followers. And so on.

"We've definitely been experimenting," Lee says. "It's hard because something has to happen organically. The more you try to influence, the less it works. Fans and audience have to be passionate for it to work. It's a good supplement to traditional marketing. Social networking helps us stretch the dollar. Fans do the promoting for us."

Perhaps even more important, BET took advantage of the stunning figures for Twitter usage by African-Americans: They make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but represent 25 percent of Twitter users, according to a study by Edison Research that’s been widely disseminated and dissected since it was published in the spring. Indeed, Twitter in many ways can be more influential than Facebook — which, after all, is largely about a user’s private social network. Twitter is about having your own public broadcast channel; BET can cut out the middleman and share information directly with friends, yes, but also strangers, who will happily retweet for you.

BET learned this lesson after the 2009 BET Awards. On the night of the three-hour-plus telecast, the 10 top-trending topics on Twitter were related to the event, and BET’s Twitter feed for the show jumped from slightly more than 10,000 followers to 40,000-plus. Meanwhile, traffic at doubled compared to the previous year’s BET Awards.

And BET saw similar Twitter trends in the run-up to the Jan. 11 premiere of The Game.

"We found Twitter to be a great early indicator as to how well The Game was going to do," Lee says. "The night of the premiere, the show was one of the top 10 trending topics. People were talking about the cast the night of the show and DNA testing, which was part of the story line. All in all, I was hoping it would be a hit but no idea it would be this big. It's all a very pleasant surprise."

For those on the ground in social media, Game’s success is not surprising. Angela Benton — a fan of the show and the founder of Black Web 2.0, which covers technology and new media — was as glued to the television as she was to her laptop during the show, scanning her Twitter stream for comments from friends and strangers during commercial breaks. While watching a recent episode, she says, "I checked in to make sure I wasn't crazy for thinking Melanie was wrong for taking a DNA sample of Derwin’s baby without his permission," says Benton, 29, a divorced mother of three who lives in Charlotte, N.C.

In other words, The Game is more than appointment TV: It is television as a real-time, interactive, collective community, where conversations can at once distract and enhance the TV-watching experience.

This season's second episode of Game was down from the opener but maintained impressive audience levels, averaging 5.9 million viewers. And the show has helped BET launch the comedy Let's Stay Together.

"I hope one of the lessons that the industry will learn from this is that you can have a show that is targeted at African-Americans and it can do well," Wilson says. "You just have to engage the audience on several levels. You cant just run a 30-second spot because people aren't living there. They’re living on Facebook. They’re living on Twitter. Fortunately for The Game, it had this grass-roots social media following that translated into viewers."

Cast of 'The Game'
I don’t even watch The Game, but I applaud their comeback. Usually when any show is gone it’s GONE, not to mention a black show.

I do have many Facebook friends who are fans of The Game and one of the main topics of discussion Tuesday night is The Game. I also think that it is cool that Stacey Mattocks who created the Facebook fan page for fun for The Game eventually got hired by BET to run the fan page. The page which at last count was 4.1 million fans can be found here
-Dankwa Brooks

UPDATE: March 2011: The Game Season Finale Ratings

New Post-  April 2011: BET Announces MORE New Shows

Related link-
New York Times: ‘The Game’ Is a Winner, Helped by BET Loyalists

Related post-
From May 2009: CW Cancels Two Black sitcoms

June 1, 2012
Look Who Is Driving Twitter: Smartphone adoption is helping drive up the number of tweets that Twitter use...

Friday, March 11, 2011

The NEW Black distribution model

This month a great new film distribution model starts. Founded by Producer/Director Ava DuVernay, AFFRM - the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement hopes to spread the distribution of black-themed films through black film festivals based in New York, Atlanta, Seattle and Los Angeles including our online contact Reelblack in Philadelphia. The film festivals will share the profits from the film for helping to promote its wider release. (Ava DuVernay was also Director & Executive Producer of  the BEST production I've EVER seen on BET My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop (2010 TV documentary) )

The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement starts with Ava DuVernay’s film I Will Follow, which stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Omari Hardwick.

Read an interview with Ms.DuVernay by my friend Felicia Pride of Backlist here

Watch several videos about AFFRM held at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival below.




Watch an interview with Ava DuVernay below

Related websites

Read more about AFFRM in the New York Times here

Check out the trailer for AFFRM's first film below


March 15, 2011

March 18, 2011

New related post-
Why Distribution is Important

UPDATE: September 16, 2011:
I have FINALLY seen I Will Follow and have reviewed it here

MARCH 2012

Ava DuVernay Makes History

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Academy Awards

Yes I LOVE the...
This is what I said in one of my blog entries.
Like everyone I’ve watched the Oscars off and on throughout my life, but with recent achievements by African Americans (Denzel, Halle, Jamie, Forest, etc.) I have been watching them more and now EVERY YEAR.
I have even composed a page of all of the African American Academy Awards winners at our sister blog Cool Black Media.

I love the Oscars because they reward the previous year’s greatest cinema achievements as determined by some of the world’s most accomplished motion picture artists and professionals. It also helps that because I'm a filmmaker I now know what a Cinematographer is (and does) and have an appreciation for "Best Foreign Film" and the like. I am also well aware of the current disparages over the lack of diversity in the awards and I have a very definite opinion on that which I will write soon.

All of my Oscar blog entries have been posted at my aforementioned blog devoted to African Americans in the media
Read the blog entries at the links below-

Cool Black's Oscar picks 2012

Cool Black's Oscar picks 2011

Cool Black Media: Lack of Diversity at the Oscars 2011

Cool Black Media: African Americans at the Oscars

Cool Black's Oscar Recap Past & Present

2011 Best Picture Race


March 24, 2011- I have completed my piece on the lack of diversity in Hollywood. Read it here