H is for Hats. Be Prepared to Wear ‘Em. Independent production almost certainly demands it.
I want to share something with you. Below is one of my to do lists from a day when we were about two weeks away from principal photography on the Black TV & Film Collective’s new digital series Keloid.
Huriyyah To Dos
- Finish Shotlist (Director)
- Production Design Cle Apt (Prod Designer)
- Get props (prop master)
- Distribute schedule to cast and crew (1st AD)
- Finish online permits (Locations Manager / Producer)
- Rehearsals (Director)
- Go through wardrobe (Director)
- Figure out Frederic scheduling issues (Producer / 1st AD)
- Finalize budget (Line Producer)
- Craft service shopping list (craft service)
- Find another location for basketball (Locations)
- Find a better location for interrogation room (I hate that lock on the door) (Locations)
I just ran across the old to-do list this evening while deleting notes on my phone. As you can see, I willfully wore many hats.
I wrote, directed and produced Keloid according to the credits listed in the show. But I didn’t just wear those hats, I couldn’t. More precisely, that it was a luxury I could not afford. In reality, I was part AD, part production designer, part prop master, part craft service, full time producer, full time director. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but given the choice, I would certainly do it all again.
It made me better.
As a producer, it increased the empathy and understanding for the director I carry forward. I understood first hand how important it is for directors to feel supported, to be able to concentrate and do their best work. As a director, I gained another level of value for myself as a producer. I said shit, if I were only directing, and I had a producer like me!!!! Great Scott!
In production, as in life, nothing will be perfect. If you wait for the perfect time, the perfect budget, the perfect resources it won’t happen. As a producer, sometimes you have to be willing to wear multiple hats if you want to make it happen. Understand though that there will be a trade-off. The question is will the trade off be something you can live with? Unfortunately many times you won’t fully know that answer until post. If i’m being quite honest, I’ve seen some of those trade offs in post with Keloid. Was it worth it? Take a look at an episode and you tell me.
Good luck with ‘dem hats. Producing – toughest job you will ever love.
The Black TV & Film Collective a 501c3 organization that operates as a NYC film collective. In our work, we support all artists of color including but not limited to black filmmakers. We are a collaborative platform that represents diversity in film and supports inclusion in Hollywood and TV. Our professional network of New York City filmmakers gives knowledge to those who want to learn how to produce film, how to make a web series, how to budget film projects and more. We host NYC film workshops that welcome a variety of experience levels from first time filmmakers who are either students in film school or to notables within the television and film industry. See how you can make a difference in the world of cinema by becoming a member of our NYC film collective.
Huriyyah Muhammad is the Founder of the Black TV & Film Collective and Managing Partner of Infinite Wings Media. As an independent feature film producer, she has led the production of multiple independent feature films from development to market, and most recently completed filming projects in Nairobi, Kenya and Madhya Pradesh, India. Works she is most proud of include her documentary, Her Song, currently in post-production and Soko Sonko, Swahili for Market King, which continues to win awards. Huriyyah will soon make her narrative directorial debut with the supernatural series, Keloid. In addition to these projects, her filmography includes over 14 other works. It has not been easy, but it has certainly been fun.
Huriyyah is an avid writer, director and producer who is passionate about creating long-lasting opportunities for people of color within film and TV. She holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science from Spelman College.