Thursday, December 11, 2014

Working for Free: Part II

Again, in case you are bombarded with this "proposition"...

Happy Filmmaking.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Is Hollywood a "White Industry"?

Chris Rock recently wrote an essay about being black in Hollywood.

While I agree with Chris Rock on many points, I feel his argument is a little actor-centric. He did state that key decision-makers/creatives are rarely black. Too many blacks in the industry focus on being in front of the camera instead of behind it. Therein lies the problem. We also have to move beyond black showrunners, black screenwriters, black directors, and black producers. We also need black executive producers, black distributors, black theatre owners, black editors, black DPs, black MPAA raters, and black entertainment professionals.

When I was interviewing at many production companies post-graduation, I noticed how "white" many of these companies actually are. Some companies had no racial or ethnic minority visible. It's a terrible feeling to know you may be wasting your time. And unfortunately, many black production companies cannot afford to hire you, as they may be folding next month. But as a young emerging creative who happens to be a minority, you are often pigeonholed into creating films that emphasize your otherness, not the next Wizard of Oz. The plus side is that many young professionals are passionate about diversifying Hollywood, and if enough of those passionate people get together, Dear White People, or films like it, emerge.

The following quote struck a chord with me the most:
I don't think the world expected things to change overnight because Obama got elected president. Of course it's changed, though, it's just changed with kids. And when you're a kid, you're not thinking of any of this shit. Black kids watch The Lord of the Rings and they want to be the Lord of the Rings. I remember when they were doing Starsky and; Hutch, and my manager was like, "We might be able to get you the part of Huggy Bear," which eventually went to Snoop Dogg. I was like: "Do you understand that when my brother and I watched Starsky and Hutch growing up, I would play Starsky and he would play Hutch? I don't want to play f—ing Huggy Bear. This is not a historical drama. This is not Thomas Jefferson. It's a movie based on a shitty TV show, it can be anybody. Who cares. If they want me to play Starsky or Hutch, or even the bad guy, I'm down. But Huggy Bear?"
Rock's frustration resonates with me because my mother, my brother, my fiancé, and I are huge science fiction fans. We are able to enjoy science fiction just like anyone else and largely do not understand why #blackstormtrooper is so controversial. Black people cannot star in science fiction, fantasy, or superhero films? The new Spiderman received the same racial backlash as #blackstormtrooper, and so did Hunger Games despite the character being originally written as a black girl.

I wrote an unproduced pilot for a production company that folded called The Adventures of Maxis and Kevin. It's about this adventure-like video game character and this everyman community college student. I wrote no racial identifiers for Kevin, but envisioned him in my mind to be a black kid. He could easily be any race. But the reason I wrote this story was because I grew up on video games. I'm a Gen-Yer born in 1984. I related to Oregon Trail, Super Mario, and Zelda. I didn't feel the need to write that Kevin was black because it added nothing to the story, however, just because I didn't specify doesn't mean he's automatically a white character either.

Once a minority filmmaker can make films without them being consider "race" films, we can say we have arrived. But we are not there yet.

Happy Filmmaking.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mid-Fall Update!

Hello, followers!

Lagniappe Cinemas is producing another Mer$iless Myndz music video. With a fog machine on set, things can get a little hazy! Our artist Eterniti is channelling a Secret Agent Man persona. Somehow, the shoot reminds us a little of those old Unsolved Mysteries episodes from the 90s. Must be the fog machine. Video is being shot on a Canon 60D, the little camera that could!

Cue creepy music!

"The Killer is still on the loose!"

Check us out! We are planning on wrapping this video in January to work on a short narrative piece.

Behind the Scenes for Truth Shoot from lagniappe cinemas on Vimeo.

Happy Filmmaking!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Go See "Dear White People," If You Can!

You know me: I like to support fellow peeps! Please support the filmmakers of Dear White People. Black cinema is one of those things that gets niched too often. There is a racial theory that states Black cinema struggles at the box office due to a lack of racial empathy. In theory, white audiences cannot relate to black protagonists.

Well, Dear White People shot for the moon and is now rocketing into space. The Sundance darling has now attracted international buyers at American Film Market.

Check out the trailer:

Although the film is released nationally, the release is limited so it may or may not be playing near you.

Here is an interview with Dear White People actors Marque Richardson and Brandon Bell. They are being interviewed by Daren Jackson. All three attended USC with me and are great people!

Happy Filmmaking!

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Memory Lane" wins People's Choice Award at SoAL 2014!

I would like to thank everyone that supported us! It's been an interesting journey."Memory Lane" has won the 2014 South Alabama Film Festival/Southsounds Southern Music Video division!

Mobile, Alabama, at dusk before the Artwalk premiere!
On the big screen!
"Memory Lane" premiered publicly during The LoDa (Lower Dauphin) Artwalk in Mobile last Friday and was well-received. The video drew a small, but dedicated crowd. "Memory Lane" competed with 10 other music videos from the Gulf region. Eterniti, the artist, is one satisfied customer!

"Memory Lane" has an interesting history. It was shot as a literal last-minute video because our club extras didn't show for an entirely different song and video! But in the end, we polished that turd into a win, and that's what filmmaking is about! For us at Lagniappe Cinemas, we gonna keep doing what we do best: making quality video! In case you haven't seen the video, it is embedded below.

Eterniti - Memory Lane [Official Video] from lagniappe cinemas on Vimeo.
Happy Filmmaking!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Budget Shooting: Still Prime or Cine Prime?

I am in the market for new glass. I shoot both still photography and video, so naturally I wondered if I really need dedicated lenses for both. I shoot Canon.

Convention says yes. Although DSLRs are popular for video production, they have their limitations. Thankfully, someone else had the same question and decided to do a side-by-side comparison.

Canon CN-E Prime Lenses - Non-scientific Comparison - Magnanimous Media from Magnanimous Media on Vimeo.

My verdict? For my purposes right now, there is little difference. I kinda like the look of the EF lenses. The EFs shoot a little warm, but I like shooting warm. Warm shooting is part of my shooting style. I also feel your target audience will not notice the difference if your story is engaging. The CN-E primes do have a larger color range, which could be useful in some low-light situations.

For the price tag, I am sticking with EF lenses until I am shooting a project that needs what the CN-E lenses can provide. Then, maybe I can just rent them from!

Happy Filmmaking!