#MotivationMonday: Your Work Is Worth It

When I tell people that I’m a film major, there are two different types of responses: one where they are supportive and think that’s really cool, and one where they kind of look at me thinking, really? You’re $20,000+ in debt to study film? Film is a hobby, not a career. Have fun being a starving artist!

In today’s society, it seems like people think that you’re wasting your life and devalue your work if you’re not pursuing a career in business or something in the STEM field.

Well, I’m here to tell you that without us, without artists, the world would be bland, colorless, and lack depth. From the books you read to the movies you watch, they all require at least one thing: someone with the mind and the original, imaginative, artistic ability to create them.

Art matters. To all the photographers, filmmakers, writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, fashion designers, graphic designers, drawers, poets…Your work matters. Your craft matters.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do and what you can’t be successful at. And don’t let anyone tell you to have a “plan B.” Will Smith says that there’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A. He is absolutely right. It’s like you’re already expecting plan A to fail by having a plan B. So, stick to plan A. Stick to your art.

I think the best thing about being an artist is that you get to create something from nothing. As artists, we get to be new, unusual and inventive every single day. We all have something unique and special that we want to share with the world.

Your work is worth it. It’s not about the money. It’s about being able to integrate the mind, body, and spirit. It’s about cutting across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers. It’s about enhancing cultural appreciation and awareness. It’s about giving people the opportunities to express themselves. It’s about bringing the inner world into the outer world and developing new, concrete realities.

I’m glad that I am finally able to ignore all the noise and be true to myself. I love film. I am a filmmaker, and I will spend the rest of my days doing what I love. My work is all that matters.


#FilmMajorFriday: Why Ava DuVernay is My Greatest Inspiration

Ava DuVernay is everything that Black Girl Magic encompasses. Being a film major, she is my greatest inspiration and really motivates me to pursue a career in film and be on the frontier for bringing more diversity into Hollywood.

DuVernay is a director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor of independent film. She’s most famous for directing Selma (2014), a chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015.

Based in Los Angeles, she is the founder of ARRAY, a community-based distribution collective dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women filmmakers. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and is on the board of Film Independent and the Sundance Institute.

What I appreciate most about DuVernay is that she strives to make change for women and people of color in an industry that is dominated by white men. She advocates for the distribution of more films by women and minorities, which is both comforting and inspiring since I’m both a woman and a minority. Not only does ARRAY focus on women and Black filmmakers, but also Latino, Asian, Native American, and Middle Eastern filmmakers and directors.

To me, one of her most notable acts of duty is when she and Ryan Coogler (Director of Fruitvale Station, Creed, and the upcoming Black Panther movie that comes out in 2018!!!), and several others supported a free Oscar-night event in Flint, Michigan to raise money for the Flint Water Crisis while boycotting the Oscars for its lack of diversity in the Academy. The #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit gave a voice to members of the community who were victims of the choices that people in power made, choices that failed to protect the citizens of Flint. The event raised a total of $100,000.

She has taught me that if my dreams are only for myself, then they’re not big enough, and to include others in my dreams. She has taught me to pay attention to my intention not just in filmmaking, but in all areas of my life. Be grateful, appreciate others, and put others first. Take action in my craft, and that the only thing that matters is my work.

Most importantly, it is imperative that we continue to create spaces like ARRAY that advocate for the distribution of more films by women and minorities. Why? Because all of us should be able to see ourselves. Visual identity and representation matters. It’s important that we allow others to see themselves in all walks of life, beyond the stereotypes that we are subjected to.

Thank you, DuVernay, for all that you do. You are changing lives and inspiring young filmmakers like me more than you are credited for. Keep on climbing, and keep on shining!


Local Detroit Filmmakers On The Rise

[Credit: The Inner Circle]
[Credit: The Inner Circle]

By Sydney B.

Find your voice in filmmaking and go for it. People will either get it or they won’t!

The Inner Circle is a one-hour drama series filmed in Detroit, MI. Last night I had the pleasure of viewing the Pilot of this gripping melodrama. The first episode highlights an array of everyday obstacles like stereotypes, friendships, and many unforeseen circumstances with only one thing in common…DRUG ADDICTION.

[Credit: The Inner Circle] | Shiek Mahmud-Bey (left) Paris Jones (right)
[Credit: The Inner Circle] | Shiek Mahmud-Bey (left) Paris Jones (right)
Detroit filmmakers Paris Jones, playing Jonathan Rivers, and Shiek Mahmud-Bey, playing Dr Benjamin Taylor, are the brains behind the project.

“It was definitely tough balancing between producing the film and actually acting in the production as well,” Jones says in response to if whether or not being able to balance between co-producing and acting in the series was difficult for him.

The plot centers around 7 individuals, from different backgrounds, who all suffer from various cases of drug addiction. Dr. Benjamin Taylor is what you would define as a calm and controlled. As the Founder and Chief Psychiatrist at The Brentwood Center for Recovery, although his job is to try and help people, Dr. Ben also a few of his own demons that he’s forced to battle in his personal life. This Dr. certainly will have some explaining to do as this story unfolds.

Did I mention that his daughter may or may not be the root of the problem?

Some major plot twist my friends!

“We wanted to give everyone a good story that people will be able to attract to,” says Paris Jones.

The rehabilitation center was sponsored by the Detroit Recovery Project. Prior to production, cast members spent at least one night in this all male home to see just what’s it like to temporarily have to live in a recovery center.

So when character Roxy Raquel, played by actress Lanika Wise, says that they were sleeping in “lumpy a– beds” she literally meant that these beds were really lumpy and uncomfortable. It somewhat reminds me of having to sleep on those extra stiff blue cots in kindergarten!

Check out the series trailer below:

The creators of this intriguing series are hoping that with the right actors, actresses and local network partner, Detroit may have an original series that we can even continue to see 10 years down the line! You don’t wake up a drug addict, You don’t wake up homeless.

What do you think about this one-hour drama? Is this due to make an imprint in the film industry in Detroit?

Check out more behind the scene photo’s below: