Recently we sat down with Mack Williams, one of the earliest members of the Black TV & Film Collective. In that conversation, Mack, a musician and writer, shared with us his goals as an artist and the status of his current project, WWII Diary. The project is an adaption from the memoir of the same name written by his mother, Winnie Williams.
What are your goals as an artist?
That’s an easy one…to tell great stories that will find an audience. And when possible, to explore topics of interest and concern to communities of color. Its one of the things that lead me to the Black TV & Film Collective.
How long have you been a member of the Black TV & Film Collective?
Probably since it first started. I was looking for a way to avail myself of opportunities to network with people in the arts, whether in TV/Film or music. What I found was through the Collective, I would get not only networking opportunities, but motivation as well by being in the presence of this great group of creative artists. The first meetings I regularly attended were the monthly screenwriting committee and every time, I would leave those meetings feeling incredibly inspired and uplifted.
How did your journey lead you to screenwriting?
I’ve always loved to write, but I came to screenwriting totally by accident. One day, in search of something to read during an hour long subway ride, I picked up a free paper and saw an article about a contest for an original play. I had never written a play, nor had any desire to, but I thought the $2500 first prize could come in handy. So I wrote a play. It didn’t win the $2500 prize money, but it started me on the path. After writing the play, family members and I thought we could get a cast together and do some shows and we did. To make a long story short, Kenya Cagle, my friend and independent filmmaker, came to a show and asked for the film rights to my play. Now, several projects later, here I am, a full-fledged screenwriter.
Tell us about your current film in development.
“WWII Diary” is based on my mother’s memoir. It tells the story of her life as a young soldier’s wife during a very turbulent time for the nation as a whole, and particularly African-Americans.
My mother has been a writer for her entire life and has always had me read her work. One piece I had never read was WWII Diary, largely because it was about her period with her first husband, who was not my father, and I didn’t want to read about this other guy. I picked it up to read to her in 2013, as her eyesight was deteriorating, and was amazed at what an outstanding story it was. I felt so silly for not having read it before. I promised her I would get it published, and after doing so, many readers said it should be a film. Hearing that, I wrote the screenplay and began the process. It’s a great story, as well as one the likes of which has not often been told.
What does your mom and family think of it?
They are all very excited about it.
What stage are you in?
I’m fortunate in that many people who have read the script want to be involved in one way or another, including industry veterans that have signed on as producers. Our hope within the near future is to attract a number of well-known actors to attach to the project, which could then help us get the funding necessary to do the film. We also recently completed a video teaser.
What’s the next step in your journey and how can we help?
One of our producers is the founder/CEO of the International Black Film Festival of Nashville, and she wants to hold a casting call in conjunction with their 10th anniversary festival in October. Naturally we wouldn’t necessarily try to cast every role there, but would utilize it as a vehicle to build buzz about the project. I would love the support of the Collective. members can help by sharing contacts, advice and equally important, encouragement. That said, the Collective helps me every time I attend an event and see the type of work we are all doing.
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.