Harlem World Magazine has officially launched its first ever “HW Talk Series” just recently on June 17th at the Raw Space in Harlem, New York.
Harlem World partnered with ImageNation (who manages Raw Space) and African Voices (who manages Reel Sisters Film Festival) to present the first panel discussion in the series called “The State of Indie Filmmaking for Artists of Color.”
A distinguished panel of top industry professionals assembled to dispense knowledge, wisdom, and raw truth about what it really takes to be truly successful in 2015. The panel comprised of Moikgantsi Kgama, Sura Khan, Leslie Fields-Cruz, Anre Garrett, and Kimberly Singleton. In the digital age of direct access and do it yourself filmmaking, the independent strategy for achievement must be clearly thought out with acute savvy particularly by artists of color but it becomes even more crucial to define what success should look like.
For most artists, the depth of their dreams involves the opulence of the Hollywood spotlight, fame, red carpets, profiles on TV Entertainment shows, not to mention the high-end lifestyle and wealth often flaunted before them but the panelists presented a sobering look at what the true measuring stick of success is in the film industry.
The purpose of the discussion was to examine the true state of where artists of color stood in the film industry in terms of wealth, power, and creative control. Each panelist dispensed their own perspective of what the industry is and how it should be approached. Collectively, the panel agreed that it is up to the individual to define success for themselves. The current reality of the genre just doesn’t provide the predictable or traditional blue print for success in entertainment.
As Moikgantsi Kgama relayed, she is intent on fine turning the Raw Space which is the makeshift but innovative cinematic art house into a café in order to cultivate a social atmosphere for patrons and artists. She is not waiting for a distribution deal or corporate financiers to showcase the diaspora of her films. Anre Garrett adamantly stated that you must have more than just filmmaking as a way to make a living. He didn’t hesitate touting his own hustle of multiple gigs to pay the bills. Nonetheless, Garrett also is not waiting on any deals from Hollywood to realize his dreams. He founded a non-profit called The Collective Initiative – an organization of domestic and international creatives who are looking to forge a real market foothold by producing and distributing films globally. Anre emphasized the necessity to abandon the notion of achieving “Hollywood” stardom and just commit to being an impactful content creator – a title he vehemently identifies himself as such.
Sura Khan, the creator and director of the Award-Winning T.V. Series “South of Brooklyn” simply inspired the audience of hopefuls with his journey of mere persistence and the focused ability to create and harness many projects. Sura sat on the panel as a proven survivor not just in film but in life. He intends use his art as a statement of excellence because of his ability to write and produce.
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Kim Singleton, a renowned filmmaker who also does duty as the Reel Sisters advisory board member offered up some business worthy tips for all budding filmmakers in terms of branding and profit generation. Singleton tells of her ability to parlay her films into a licensing nutrient working with schools to distribute her personally produced educational films.
As the panel continued before a packed house, the conversation got livelier as Leslie Fields-Cruz, Executive Director of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) let the aspiring artists know how important it is to make sure one’s skill is up to par to insure quality work and representation of ample talent. Fields-Cruz explained how NBPC specializes in incubating and developing up-and-coming filmmakers to emerge as industry professionals. She firmly stated that filmmakers have viable options to making their careers happen in a reasonable process of time.
As each industry expert piggy-backed passionately with various perspectives, collectively they shared the common thread of taking control of one’s own destiny by charting one’s own course. Garrett stressed the importance rethinking how and why we make films by collaborating strategically. Kgama is determined to stamp her genre and environment by expanding her brand with events for the community. She socializes Harlem and other boroughs into an art-induced lifestyle.
Kim Singleton continues to be enterprising as always utilizing and uncovering new ways to leverage her talent into profitable returns. As a veteran filmmaker firmly placed in her career, she can throw her hat in different rings to chart various avenues to solidify her personal brand.
Fields-Cruz is using strategic partnerships in television specifically at PBS to distribute compelling documentaries that reflect the accuracy of culture for African-Americans as well as additional multi-cultural diaspora. The NBPC Executive Director is pulling no punches preparing the next generation (not just in age but talent) of content creators to take their irrevocable stake in the industry by storm.
Sura Khan will keep his audience on the edge waiting for his next spell-binding project. He didn’t win the Ocktober Film Festival Best Television Series for nothing – all anyone has to do is stay tuned.
The night was capped off by a few anticipated Q & A participants. One main question came from the events online media sponsor Silicon Harlem. Its founder Clayton Banks let the audience know how crucial it as for Harlem to be connected with sufficient broadband to technically function, create jobs, and prosper into a strong tight-knit tech hub. The panel was challenged with the idea of intersecting the genre into the future of technology providing direct access, profitability, and sufficient quality of art product.
However with one resounding voice, they all candidly urged the audience-packed dreamers and hopefuls to basically “be your boss by becoming your own catalyst.”
Click on the links bellows to view clips from some of the panelist work and various websites for upcoming projects.
Link for Half of a Yellow Sun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq9jI1QnEXU.
South of Brooklyn Trailer http://vimeo.com/91433984