Category: News

BTFC Board Member and Programming Chair, Okema T. Moore had the pleasure of sitting down with Writer/ Director, Kobi Libii and the cast of THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES is a fresh, satirical comedy about a young man, Aren, who is recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people’s lives easier.

Focus Features will release THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROESin Theaters Nationwide on Friday, March 15th

Writer/Director: Kobi Libii

Cast: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, and Nicole Byer

Questions? Contact [email protected].

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Jeff Melvoin, a seasoned figure in television history, recently shared invaluable insights during an enlightening event. He ventured into the intricate world of television, becoming a prominent scripted writer and influential showrunner.

His journey encapsulates a rich tapestry of experiences, including work on iconic shows like “Hill Street Blues” and “Northern Exposure.” Melvoin’s dedication is evident in his contribution of over 450 hours to dramas, showcasing his commitment to the craft.

One significant aspect of the discussion delved into Melvoin’s role in amplifying diverse perspectives in the industry. In his tenure, he sought to include writers with unique backgrounds, breaking away from conventional narratives. As a mentor, he emphasized the importance of maintaining integrity and writing from the core, urging aspiring writers to stand behind their work.

Reflecting on the challenges of showrunning, Melvoin offered advice on maintaining composure in the face of adversity. The entertainment landscape’s evolution, marked by the dominance of streaming, raised questions about the future of broadcast television. Melvoin expressed optimism, foreseeing a potential renaissance and emphasizing the enduring appeal of broadcast options.

Addressing queries about sustaining a career, Melvoin encouraged writers to fulfill their responsibilities diligently while seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge. He emphasized the value of networking, urging aspiring writers to learn from professionals in various roles on set.

The evening with Jeff Melvoin provided a rare glimpse into the dynamic world of television, offering practical advice and inspiring anecdotes for those navigating the complex yet rewarding path of scripted writing and showrunning.

The holiday season is not just about twinkling lights, gift-wrapped surprises, and joyful carols. It’s also the time for heartwarming holiday movies that bring families together and sprinkle a bit of magic into our lives. In a recent exclusive Holiday Movie Panel, industry experts shared insights, challenges, and triumphs from their experiences in producing some of your favorite festive films.

1. Tracy Twinkie Bryd: A Maestro of Casting and Production

At the forefront of the discussion was Tracy Twinkie Bryd, a casting director and executive producer, known for her work on projects like “Jumping the Broom” and “Being Mary Jane.” Tracy emphasized her goal of creating films with a captivating flow, employing a nine-act structure for made-for-TV movies. Her expertise lies in finding writers who can seamlessly craft stories within this framework, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.

One intriguing highlight was her night-before-Christmas-themed posters, adding a touch of holiday magic to the production process.

2. Overcoming Racial Challenges in the Filming Industry

The panel also addressed the racial challenges faced on set, particularly in locations like Ottawa, Canada. The discussion shed light on the experiences of upper-middle-class Black women and the importance of representation.

3. Lenore’s Unique Experience in Ottawa

Lenorore shared her unique experience as a writer in Ottawa, emphasizing the importance of being a fly on the wall to truly understand the dynamics of the industry. Her perspective highlighted the need for acknowledging different experiences within the Black community.

4. Behind the Scenes: Making of Holiday Classics

Insider stories from the sets included freezing lips, unexpected blizzards in August, and the challenges of shooting in Atlanta. From Black Santas to festive gnomes, the panelists provided a peek into the creative process that brings holiday magic to the screen.

5. Creating and Financing: Pierre’s Insights

Pierre, with his experience in the independent space, spoke about the challenges of selling projects with an all-Black cast. However, he found support within the BET community, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and mutual support in the industry.

6. Crafting Compelling Scripts: Insights from Bridgettte Stephens

Bridgettte Stephens delved into the art of writing a musical, offering practical advice on selling scripts and collaborating on projects. Her insights shed light on the intricate process of pitching and bringing stories to life.

7. The EP’s Perspective: What Are They Looking For?

The conversation turned to what casting directors like Tracy Twinkie Bryd look for in scripts. Tracy emphasized the importance of a compelling flow, character-driven narratives, and a breakthrough that takes characters from where they start to where they end up.

8. Building Networks and Community: The Essence of Black Filmmaking

The panelists stressed the significance of building networks within the Black filmmaking community. From Black venture capital firms to supporting organizations like Black Girls Do Mafia, the call to action was clear: empower each other, build an ecosystem, and be a part of the movement.

In a world that’s constantly evolving, these industry leaders offer a glimpse into the challenges, triumphs, and community-driven spirit that makes the holiday movie magic possible. The Holiday Movie Panel is not just a discussion; it’s a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the power of storytelling in film. So, as you cozy up with your loved ones to watch your favorite holiday films, remember the hard work, dedication, and passion that goes into making those moments truly magical.

In the vibrant tapestry of Bradenton, nestled 45 minutes from Tampa, emerges the creative force named Toni Kennedy. Born in South Florida, Kennedy’s journey unfolds through the lens of St. Petersburg.

Kennedy, the youngest of nine siblings, grew up amid the echoes of segregation. Her upbringing was a blend of Southern charm and a progressive worldview instilled by her politically active sisters. The legacy of her family’s history, rooted in the same South Carolina plantation where they were once enslaved, shaped Kennedy’s perspective on affluence and belonging.

Facing colorism and ostracism due to her appearance, Kennedy navigated the complexities of her identity. She embraced rejection as a guiding force, recognizing that it often pointed towards the right direction. Chronic illnesses, including juvenile diabetes and autism, made her easy prey, but Kennedy learned to transform her challenges into creative expressions.

A pivotal chapter in Kennedy’s life unfolded in Hawaii, where she discovered empowerment and a diverse, inclusive community. This period of self-discovery fueled her move to New York City, where she began to model, sing, and eventually found her calling in makeup artistiry.

Kennedy’s life took unexpected turns, from a tumultuous marriage all while raising two children. Her resilience and creative spirit remained undeterred. The podcast “What’s Poppin’ Penny?” emerged from Kennedy’s desire to create a safe space for children, offering stories that empower and embrace diversity.

The podcast gained acclaim, recognized by Common Sense Media as the best for children in 2023. Penny’s episodes touch on historical narratives, family treasures, and the importance of embracing one’s identity. Through the lens of her own experiences, Penny emphasizes the need to foster empathy in children and encourages parents to carefully build their understanding of the world.

The journey of What’s Poppin’ Penny? extends beyond the podcast, as Kennedy looks forward to upcoming seasons and collaborations.

Her artistic vision includes a writers’ room, an animated series, and a collaboration with Black Woman Animate Studios (BWA Studios).

Kennedy’s story is one of empowerment, authenticity, and unwavering resilience. She has turned rejection into her guiding star and is now creating content that reflects the diverse and inclusive world she envisions for children. What’s Poppin Penny? is more than a podcast; it’s a celebration of individuality, a testament to overcoming adversity, and an embodiment of the transformative power of storytelling.

Uzo Chijioke, a multifaceted creative force, ventures into uncharted territories with his scripted podcast “TwentyOne 21.” Steeped in a background of game design and scripted writing, Uzo has explored diverse creative realms, including graphic novels and the intriguing world of Pharmacy.

The genesis of “TwentyOne 21” was marked by a transformative plane journey, where Uzo, equipped with a vivid imagination, envisioned two protagonists navigating scripted adventures. Embracing the breakneck pace of creativity, Uzo took a chance, spurred on by friends, and carved his niche in the podcasting landscape.

Uzo’s journey through the last season of “Atlanta” and his fascination with black surrealism laid the foundation for “TwentyOne 21.” Influenced by shows featuring black female lead like Michaela Coel’s work, Uzo embarked on a TV pilot for an animated series on Adult Swim.

The podcast, a shift from his previous hardships, features unique music and body aesthetics seldom seen in the mainstream. Uzo, who contrasts his spicy and laid-back persona, infuses his passion for anime and distinct hobbies into the podcast, setting it apart from conventional narratives.

“TwentyOne 21” delves into the intricacies of black stereotypes, exploring scenarios that could go viral on Black Twitter. Uzo’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in the podcast’s structure, where each episode is a seasonally rollercoaster, offering 15 minutes of narrative brilliance.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Walt Disney, Uzo aspires to build a brand that encompasses cartoons, theme parks, and eventually a studio. The clash of quirky ideas and the pursuit of the right tone define Uzo’s creative process, reminiscent of the alignment sought between “Seinfeld” and “Living Single.”

The journey of “TwentyOne 21” unfolds through table reads, actors’ individual booth sessions, and university sound studios. The pandemic’s challenges added a layer of complexity, but Uzo navigated the storm, recognizing the cost and value of the creative pursuit.

Beyond the podcast, Uzo delves into graphic novels, managing intricate collaborations with artists and pushing the boundaries of creativity. His singular brand, rooted in a comedic personality and an unapologetically Black perspective, sets him apart as a trailblazer in the realm of storytelling.

Uzo Chijioke’s “TwentyOne 21” is more than a podcast; it’s a journey into the surreal, a celebration of Black creativity, and a testament to the boundless possibilities when imagination meets determination. As Uzo continues to carve his path, the world eagerly awaits the next twist and turn in the labyrinth of “TwentyOne 21.”

In the dynamic world of independent filmmaking, Syd Denise Taylor stands out as a rising star, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. As the creative force behind Shades of Cinema, her production company, Syd’s recent film, “Gotcha,” has garnered acclaim at prestigious festivals, including the BronzeLens Film Festival, Afrikana Film Festival, AspireTV, and African Diaspora Network.

In a recent conversation with Syd, she shared insights into her journey and offered valuable advice for aspiring filmmakers. Let’s dive into the highlights of our discussion:

Navigating Tough Choices:
When asked about the most challenging decision she faced this year, Syd opened up about the difficulty of cutting an actor due to budget constraints. Despite the fear and uncertainty, she powered through, showcasing her resilience and determination.

The Impact of BTFC:
Syd spoke glowingly about her experience with the Black TV & Film Collective (BTFC). Participating in their screenwriting labs proved instrumental in her growth as a screenwriter, connecting her with filmmakers nationwide. The BTFC also played a pivotal role in linking her with AspireTV, leading to a distribution deal for her film. Syd encourages fellow filmmakers to engage in workshops, events, and labs through organizations like BTFC, recognizing them as potential gateways to opportunities.

Words of Wisdom for New Filmmakers:
In simple yet powerful terms, Syd’s advice to emerging filmmakers is to create fearlessly. She stresses the importance of attending film events, networking with peers, and gaining a thorough understanding of the business side of filmmaking. Connecting with industry professionals, securing mentors, and participating in relevant workshops can open doors to unforeseen opportunities.

Current Projects:
Syd is a multi-talented creator working on diverse projects. She is currently producing a podcast, “Reel Insights,” delivering authentic movie reviews by Black Women Filmmakers. Simultaneously, she is crafting a horror/comedy feature film titled “Dirty Dee,” exploring the impact of cancel culture on a renowned sex therapist.

A Vision for the Future:
Syd’s vision board reflects her commitment to pouring her most vulnerable self into her work, creating timeless films for the global majority. She aspires to achieve financial success from her films, engage in international speaking engagements, and foster a supportive community for fellow creators.

Inspiration and Self-Care:
Syd draws inspiration from trailblazing filmmakers like Mara Brock Akil, Kasi Lemmons, and Spike Lee. Her love for Atlanta, which she considers the Black Mecca, is evident in her vibrant community building. To sustain her creativity, Syd follows a self-care regimen that includes nature walks, hot yoga, sound meditation, journaling, spa dates, and a variety of teas shared with loved ones.

Syd’s Watch List:

Favorite Film: “Love Jones” for its relatable Black love story and the beautiful connection through poetry.
Must-Watch TV Show: “The Other Black Girl” – an essential narrative for Black women.

Character Identifications: Syd sees herself akin to Joan from “Girlfriends,” having transitioned from a corporate job to pursue her purpose, mirroring Joan’s unwavering focus on success.
Syd Denise Taylor, with her dedication, vision, and creative prowess, exemplifies the spirit of independent filmmaking, proving that dreams can flourish with resilience, community, and a passion for storytelling. Follow her journey on all platforms @shades0fcinema.


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