How did Black and Write initially come about?
I had decided that I was going to produce a documentary film because I enjoy that genre of filmmaking the most. With the advancements in technology, making a film is easier than years ago when you had to buy reels of tape. While planning a different subject, I learned that the Black Writers Reunion and Conference would be holding it’s last and final conference. I was talking with the Director of the Conference, Tia Ross, and I suggested that the authors be recorded to talk about the impact the conference had on their lives and what it will mean to them to not have the conference and the idea was born. At the same time, I had been praying about what did God want for my life. That is the most important thing to me, to follow the path that God has set for me. I believe that when you are on the path that God has for you, there are doors that open that you don’t know will open and that’s been 100% of this journey with this film.
Who helped support this vision in the beginning?
My husband, my close friends and BWRC Director, Tia Ross, were all central to the initial vision of the film. Since I did not have any formal training, I did not have anything except my belief that this was a film that God placed in my lap to complete. In the midst of pre-production, I was laid off from my corporate position and I decided that I would have to do this and do it right. I started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to purchase the cameras, laptop, editing software, lights, audio, tripods, etc and the campaign exceeded the goal by 108%. So, I purchased equipment and went on the road. I am truly a 1-woman show because I set up, conduct the interviews and edit the footage. I traveled to Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Los Angeles (a few times) and Washington DC. If there was anything that i didn’t know how to do, I simply did a google search or learned on YouTube.
Why focus on African American literature that is self-published?
As a self-published author, I knew first hand how difficult it was to become successful. I had my own struggles and in talking with other authors, I knew their struggles as well. Even those who had been successful had similar thoughts on the industry overall. I think the self-published authors rarely have their voice heard and this was the opportunity to let people know that there are other authors who have a voice and a story. I focused on how black literature has changed from the icons we had to a larger pool of authors with various messages.
What affects do you hope this film will do for the publishing business as a whole?
My hope is that the industry will allow African-American authors to have a larger footprint in the publishing industry and that as writers we can become confident to write stories that are outside of the most common genres of urban, christian and erotic. My prayer is that mainstream readers will venture into the African-american section and read our stories.
How did you choose whom to interview?
Initially, I only chose the writers at the BWRC conference,everyone else I prayed and asked God to show me because I didn’t know. There were so many authors I wanted to talk to but on a trip to Los Angeles to interview one of the authors from BWRC that I missed, a series of events happened that lead to others that are featured in the film. Once people heard the concept, they were interested in helping. It wasn’t a hard sell with such a unique topic.
Where can the entire documentary be seen?
Right now the film is in the festival circuit. My goal is to get enough attention on the film in the circuit arena that it can be picked up for distribution. I entered a short version of the film in the North Carolina Black Film Festival and won 3rd place. It was a huge accomplishment for a first timer and now with the full version circulating in various festivals, I have high hope that it will be picked up soon. The film is strategically designed to fit a 1 hour time slot but I will be taking the film on the road to various cities to screen. Starting in Texas and venturing out from there. There will be a screening on June 13th in Austin. Ticket information can be found at blackwrite.eventbrite.com
My webpage is cmikki.com or SouthernGurl.com and the Official Trailer is http://bit.ly/BlackWrite