Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Against The Bean Counter Mentality In African-American Film: 'If It Don’t Make Dollars, It Might Make Sense!'

Features
by Andre Seewood
September 1, 2012 9:41 AM
119 Comments
  • |

What we ought to be most loathed of is when “bean counters” dress themselves up as film critics and/or nestle themselves in film festival administrations or studio executive positions as gatekeepers to inhibit the progression of art for the Godless sake of profit.  And what I mean by “bean counters” are those industry professionals or observers who can quote you chapter and verse about the box office numbers of any film and detail for you in a single breath audience demographics, per screen averages, production budgets, above-the-line costs, SAG minimums, points on the gross, and the increase in the price of chewing gum from the year a film was made when it is adjusted for inflation today.

But these very “bean counters” rarely tell you anything as equally in depth and detailed about the experience of a film, whether you’re making one or seeing one; they have no love for the art of film.  Film is just a consumer product to them with all the prestige of ordering a “Big Mac”.  Movies are simply a business practice made up of products (individual films) that they have reduced to cold hard box-office numbers and numbers don’t lie… or do they?

The explicit purpose of this article is to challenge the soulless money grubbing mentality that infects African-American filmmaking.  I’m talking about that reductive,” If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense,” ethos that crushes the idealism, passion and ambition of African-American filmmakers by reducing the practice of filmmaking to a cold calculated cash grab cloaked in hypocritical “uplift the race” sentiments and backed up by over generalized demographic evidence.

Film is an art form –and I know this doesn’t get repeated enough today because no one wants to appear as a fool- but I’ll bear that insult and say it again: film is an art form and all the bean-counters in the world can retort,” Film is also a business,” but they cannot deny the fact that film is also an art form even if they choose to ignore it by only looking at the box-office grosses and convincing others to do the same.

We would do well to keep in mind as we investigate this “bean-counter mentality” that shackles African-American cinema solely to notion of profit that Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film VERTIGO performed sluggishly at the box office and was assessed with mixed critical reviews at the time of its release.  Over time, VERTIGO was rediscovered by French critics and audiences around the world and is now highly regarded as a key masterpiece of the cinematic art form.(1)  

 VERTIGO just recently knocked Orson Welles’ 1941 film CITIZEN KANE off the top spot as British magazine Sight & Sound’s 100 greatest films.  Moreover, even Welles’ CITIZEN KANE was a commercial flop at the time of its release, but again it is still hailed as a masterpiece filled with visual, editorial and narrative innovations that have all been absorbed nearly to the point of invisibility within our conceptualization of modern commercial filmmaking.

Yet,” because many African-Americans, both filmmakers and audiences, believe that filmmaking is solely a commercial enterprise. The artistic aspect of filmmaking is deliberately suppressed and/or disbelieved. Too many of our films lack innovation, originality and diversity because we have become slaves to profit and not the artisans of purpose and prestige. We have effectively created by default a slave cinema that is solely and exclusively concerned with the short term bottom line profit and marketability of a film with little to no consideration for the vision, originality, purpose, innovation or long term profitability of a work.” (Slave Cinema, pg. 22)

To debunk the “bean-counter” mentality that shackles African-American filmmaking we should begin by concentrating on three significant points that center on the notion of “box-office” profits and the cultural impact of cinematic prestige.

1a) The first, second and third weekend box office gross numbers of any film are not “net profit” numbers and are in no way reflective of the actual profitability of any film.

1b) The total reported (domestic and foreign) box office grosses of any film after its theatrical run are not reflective of the actual “net profits” of any film.

2) Not all narrative films (domestic or foreign) are made to make money; some films are made for prestige and cultural dominance on the world screen.

3) Would you dare make a film, knowing that there would be no way you would ever receive a dime of profit from it?

Regarding the first point (a & b), one of the most simple distinctions of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles that is taught in first year business school classes is that GROSS PROFITS are not NET PROFITS; which is to say that the gross box office numbers of any particular film that are reported during the opening three weekends of a film’s theatrical run are in no way reflective of the actual net profits of a film.  In fact, these first, second and third weekend box office numbers are related only to the popularity of a specified film.  And popularity should never be confused with profitability in the entertainment business.

Going further, even the cumulative box office gross totals reported on websites like imdb, boxofficemojo and Variety for any film since its release do not reveal to us the actual net profitability of a film because these enormous sums (like 425 million dollars domestically for a film like THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) have not been audited for negative costs, distribution fees, gross profit participant percentages, licensing and merchandising rights and any and all other overhead costs and interest fees many studios continually charge for a film over time.(2)

Indeed, short of invoking the Freedom of Information Act for SEC and IRS records, the total net profit a single film actually makes might be something we can never know since the many individual participant contracts attached as percentages of the gross profit are negotiated as private binding agreements with non-disclosure clauses built into what is called their “boiler plate” otherwise known as their contractual default rules.

   Moreover, each studio has a panoply of creative accounting practices and “ghost” fees that authors Pierce O’Donnell and Dennis McDougal have described as,” GAP accounting,” where,” revenues rarely bridged the gap between costs and profits.”(3)

As I have elsewhere detailed, Hollywood studios are operating on a two-tiered profit making model.(4)  The first tier is the theatrical release of a film which over time (usually but not exclusively) box office revenue must be gradually shared with exhibitors, gross participants, and other off-the-tops.  The second tier is a constant revenue stream brought in through ancillary outlets from home video, web streaming, television broadcasts on networks owned or co-owned by the studios and the like.  The constant revenue stream generated from our monthly “data” fees (cable, cellular, satellite, internet, etc) is based on the value of the catalog or library of films each studio possesses that are streamed on demand or by schedule.  

In short, what I am asserting is that both the weekend box office grosses and cumulative box office grosses of any film are industry managed “deceptions” that feed into the notion of filmmaking as a “soulless” money making machine and perpetuates the shackling of African-American cinema to a bottom line that is in no way fixed or terminated after a film’s theatrical run.

Most importantly, we cannot trust the box office grosses of African-American films as an indicator of the popularity of a film because of the rampant and detrimental effects of domestic bootlegging (movie piracy).  The fact that the recent remake of SPARKLE underperformed at the box office during its opening weekend may not be a consequence of the dramatic quality or marketability of the film, but instead could be caused by the popularity of the film on the bootleg market.(5)

As African-American filmmakers, we are being “hoodwinked” by faulty box office grosses that have been skewed by pre-theatrical release bootlegging into believing that our stories are neither popular nor marketable and as a consequence our ambitions are tamed and shackled to the all mighty dollar bill while we are forced to watch the ambitions of others soar –unfettered- upon the world screen.

This is not to say that the Hollywood studios don’t make money, but that perhaps making a blockbuster motion picture is more an effort to hide money; that is to hide profits from government over-taxation and from certain participants that the studio has deemed unworthy of sharing with in fairness.

The creation and management of such financial “deceptions” constitute an exact and sobering measure of a studio’s power and global influence.  

Regarding the second point, that not all narrative films are made to make money and that some films are made for prestige and cultural dominance on the world screen, I’ll turn our attention to the words of author and corporate entertainment lawyer, Schuyler M. Moore who emphatically declares in his book, THE BIZ: the basic business, legal and financial aspects of the film industry 2nd Edition that,” Most films lose money…The saving grace in the film industry is that when the rare blockbuster occurs, it can make up for the losses on a lot of other films.”(6)

But what of those films that lose money?  Some films are made not with the expressed intention of becoming blockbusters, but instead to enhance a studio’s reputation (with awards foreign and domestic) and to secure a certain cultural prestige that is racially coded by the performers or the producers upon the world screen.  This assertion might help to explain the importing to American movie theaters of the French film,” INTOUCHABLES” with its sentimental story of the friendship between a French-African male servant and his wheelchair bound white employer as opposed to not importing the raunchy French comedy,” PORN IN THE HOOD,” with its raw story of urban males of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds attempting to get into the pornography business.(7)

An American remake of INTOUCHABLES is already in the works because the sentimentality of the film spreads a message of pacified racial hierarchy and tolerance that those in power on either side of the Atlantic want to perpetuate- no matter what the box office risk or the actual social reality at hand.(8)  Some of us may not know that the American film THE HELP was re-titled,” La Couleur Des Sentiments“ when it was released in France last year.  It is a title that when translated [The color of feelings] highlights the sentimentality of the work while concealing the notion of African-American servitude and white racial dominance.

It could be that many African-American films are denied access to foreign markets, not because there isn’t an audience for such films, but instead because films written and directed by African-Americans do not maintain that certain genteel sentimentality and racial hierarchy (whites over blacks) that those in power on either side of the Atlantic want to endorse and perpetuate.

A collateral affect of the segregation of African-American films from foreign markets and the segregation of foreign films with diverse racial casts from American markets is that it maintains the illusion of White cultural and class dominance in the minds of people of color.  Whether we admit it or not, some of us black folk here in America are still shocked when we see people of color in other countries speaking their own native language; that there are black people of every hue in diverse foreign countries suffering many racial and class circumstances similar to our own is a shock not unlike the shock Malcolm X experienced during his trip to Mecca in 1964.(9)

 We are being deliberately kept apart from our international brethren to support the supremacy of whiteness on the world screen.

The very notion of making a film that you know you will not make a dime in profit from, which is my third point, is usually categorized as a “passion” project.  White filmmakers as either internationally recognized auteurs or maverick visionaries make these kinds of films every year. (eg. Terence Malick, David Cronenberg or Lars Von Trier)  And they sometimes make these films with the willing participation of A-list actors who often opt to take little to no actor’s fees or gross participation profits in exchange for the honor of working with the acknowledged White cinematic genius or maverick visionary.    

The fact of the matter is that when Whites have an interest in pursuing what is called a “passion” project, otherwise called a film without blockbuster intentions, they have a greater chance of gaining production funds, distribution and prestige through awards, than when African-Americans attempt to pursue a “passion” project.  The extraordinary length of time and stalled efforts of Danny Glover’s project on Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Overture, Don Cheadle’s project on jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, Spike Lee’s long held vision on baseball great Jackie Robinson, attests to the separate and unequal “Jim Crow” status African-Americans are forced to endure within the American Entertainment Industry.

What the combination of the “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense” ethos, the denial of access to foreign markets to African-American filmmakers and the unmitigated bootlegging of African-American films has created is a curious circumstance of “Black blackfaced minstrelsy” regarding current, potential and future African-American films.  Specifically, it is a kind of blackfaced minstrelsy where African-American filmmakers and actors must create and perform a narrow and limited conception of blackness (short of applying burnt cork to the face) that appeals to our own stereotyped and limited illusions of ourselves for profit.(10)

Minstrelsy is minstrelsy whether a black man is painting his face or wearing a dress and a wig to perform a black character of limited perception, ambition and intelligence for the amusement of ourselves or others for profit.

Those passion projects that attempt to reveal aspects that are beyond our own (or white folks) limited and narrow concepts about African-Americans are nearly impossible to produce or distribute because there is a lack of cultural prestige (foreign or domestic) associated with these potential African-American films.   Although Behn Zietlin’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD might seem to contradict this assertion, particularly since the film has been admired as a potential Oscar contender, we must keep in mind that the maverick visionary behind this African-American film is of Jewish descent.

This is an ironic circumstance that begs the questions: Does the race and ethnicity of Behn Zietlin afford him a broader, less stereotypical and ambitious cinematic perspective on African-Americans than we ourselves possess?  Are we standing too close to the mirror to see all of the many diverse facets of ourselves and our culture because we are blinded by the vanity of making films solely to get rich and famous?

One thing we can be most certain about is that no portion of the impressive 91 million dollar box office gross of THINK LIKE A MAN (the closest thing to an African-American blockbuster film that we have in recent years) will be used to make up for the losses on a lot of other African-American films because 1) the studios aren’t green lighting any ambitious, risky or challenging African-American films that they will lose money on; 2) those known maverick or visionary African-American filmmakers have been abandoned to struggle in obscurity and financial frustration and 3) those in control of the industry jealously guard the prestige of the world screen (foreign and domestic) for films made by whites that adhere to white dominated racial hierarchies and class privileges.

So returning to where we began, film is an art form and a business, yet what keeps it an art form is the fact that some films are made not solely to make money and other films are made for the sole purpose of making money.  Of course we want our films to be successful, but how is that success to be measured?  There has to be a balance, even if sometimes that balance is artificially created and maintained; there has to be a balance because most films don’t make money at all and only a few blockbusters actually turn what can be definitively called a net profit several years after their initial theatrical release.

Yet if visionary, ambitious and challenging African-American filmmakers cannot attain financing, are denied access to foreign markets or wide domestic distribution, nor multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, have their works bootlegged and are not supported by African-American film festivals, critics or African-American controlled cable channels- we are then collectively bereft of contemporary ideals and consistent artistic achievements to aspire towards.

We’ve become slaves to profit, performing any manner of Black blackfaced minstrelsy that we believe will make a profit whether we have to wear a dress and a wig to do it or remake classic black films with half of the heart and artistry that made such films classics in the first place.

The most important step in turning away from these dismal circumstances in my opinion is that we have to come together to debunk the bean counter mentality that shackles African-American films and filmmakers solely to the domestic box office with limited representations of African-American culture.  Remember that this is a domestic box office itself that has been corrupted by rampant external bootlegging so we don’t have the luxury of using first, second or third weekend box office gross numbers as a means of gauging the popularity or the quality of a film.  

The “get rich” model of African-American independent filmmaking, where you make an indie film and pray to get picked up for domestic distribution by a major studio is outdated and counterproductive.  As I have tried to suggest here, the way the studios make their money is far more sophisticated and long term than that type of shortsighted sharecropper’s dream has ever been.

The tentative and staggered distribution of independent black films like DuVernay’s MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (2012) and Dosunmu’s RESTLESS CITY (2012) reveals to us that even if it’s not all about money, the greatest task at hand for African-American filmmakers is building the means through which our films can be seen on the world screen.  If the alternative to this goal is the Black blackfaced minstrelsy of a Black man in a wig and a dress or remaking classics, then we should consider that the films that don’t make dollars are the ones that might make the most sense under these circumstances today.

NOTES

(1) Pgs. 39, 121 in HITCHCOCK: The Making of a Reputation by Robert E. Kapsis, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992

(2) All box office gross numbers are from boxoffice.mojo. com, note that the box office gross figures are subject to change.

(3) Pg. 351, FATAL SUBSTRACTION: The Inside Story of Buchwald v. Paramount by Pierce O’Donnell and Dennis McDougal, New York: DoubleDay, 1996.

(4) The Shopkeeper’s Till and The Devil’s Pie: Notes for a Revolution in African-American Filmmaking (part 3). http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/the-shopkeepers-till-the-devils-pie-notes-for-a-revolution-in-african-american-filmmaking-part-3

(5) SPARKLE (2012) opened to 12.5 million dollars gross box office on its first weekend of release on 8/17/12.  See also: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/bootlegging-and-the-plot-against-african-american-film

(6) Pgs. 11-12, THE BIZ: The Basic Business, Legal and Financial Aspects of the Film Industry 2nd Edition by Schuyler M. Moore, Los Angeles: Silman-James, 2002.

(7) See the Shadow and Act article,” Irreverent French Comedy ‘Porn In The Hood’ Hits French Theatres This Week by Tambay A. Obenson, July 12, 2012.  http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/french-comedy-porn-in-the-hood-hits-french-cinemas-this-week

(8) See the Shadow and Act article,” Harvey Weinstein talks ‘Intouchables’ remake; Leaning towards casting Latino in Omar Sy’s role, by Tambay A. Obenson, July 14, 2012. http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harvey-weinstein-talks-the-intouchables-remake-says-they-may-cast-latino-in-omar-sys-role  

(9) As author Manning Marable notes regarding the epiphany in the Hajj,” Malcolm candidly admitted that his “racial philosophy” had been altered after all he had seen- “thousands of people of different races and colors who treated me as a human being.” Pg. 319, MALCOLM X: A Life of Reinvention, New York: Viking, 2011.

(10) For an enriching discussion of Black blackfaced minstrelsy see pages 144-163, FORGERIES OF MEMORY & MEANING: Blacks & Regimes of Race in American Theater & Film Before World War II by Cedric J. Robinson, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 2007.

Andre Seewood is the author of SLAVE CINEMA: The Crisis of the African-American in Film. Pick up a copy of the book via Amazon.com HERE.

Features
  • |
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

119 Comments

  • justsaying | September 5, 2012 1:08 PMReply

    Official Notice: I'm taking a break! So any other future posts from "JUSTSAYING" is not me. And when I return, it will probably be under another name....so consider the real JustSaying DONE... Bigger fish to fry. Good bye.

  • fyi | October 3, 2012 4:50 PM

    @justsaying...your an opinionated egghead and its impossible to know everything and absolutely nothing at all. you don't speak from facts, just your one sided opinion... glad to see you've decided to try (in all caps) to move forward. clearly you've become addicted to posting your ridiculous extremely emotional comments to gain attention...I feel sorry for you. you even said you would come back under a different name?...try "just pathetic" or "just miserable" cuz that's what you are..."just lonely"...LOL! Bigger fish to fry? what, used up all your unemployment? lemme guess, you just found out that posting comments on S&A is not a transferable skill and wont get you a real job?
    Official Notice: you're a drama queen...C U Next Tuesday!

  • justsaying | October 3, 2012 4:28 PM

    Good riddance! Go grow up! and get a life!!

  • CareyCarey | September 5, 2012 4:33 PM

    @JUSTSAYING, I am thinking about going with you. I might peek in but I think it's time I suspend posting.

  • Nadine | September 5, 2012 12:18 PMReply

    I am getting a little worn out... There are a couple of things that are disturbing, that I don't have the energy to address, but this issue of a lack of respect for Independent films... Not respecting Independent films is like disrespecting the idea of Colleges and Universities. We are hypercritical of independents, specifically of the Diaspora, without offering solutions or ideas. Instead of criticizing and labeling such movies as without merit, we should simply look at the movie as if it were the homework assignment of a student. Independents would fall under one's undergraduate years with some students excelling and getting concepts and honing skills early, but others may not get "tight", until they've received their Master's or other terminal degrees. I'm saying... that we should think twice about poo poo-ing this LEARNING PROCESS, the INDEPENDENT FILM, for filmmakers, especially our filmmakers as the opportunities and support systems are far and few in-between. Why do I post this here? Because, it is during those formative, early years of intensive study when you discover yourself and your beliefs and GAIN EXPOSURE (if you hadn't done so already). You read more, you go where you had not imagined you'd go, you do things you did not imagine you would ever do - some with successes, often many failures, and see more than ever as every step is growth. You learn what you like and don't like, how far you can push yourself from your norms, how special and unique you are... yet not. A freshman cannot be expected to have the depth or breadth of knowledge of a particular subject as a senior or even PhD candidate simply by watching and copying what they see from the Senior or PhD candidate (although there are some prodigies or those who have been mentored as apprentices), because once they reach that viva, and it becomes clear that they must now practice what they've been taught and the unstudied will fail. This is essentially what bean-counting does to filmmakers who are so caught up in the IDEA of money, that they are ill-prepared and then, as CC would say, blame everything on Hollywood, not their lack of skills or internal insight (CareyCarey and Seewood's arguments can actually work together). The Freshman or the young (or young at heart) indie filmmaker, HAS TO GO THROUGH THESE PROCESSES. They will have to LEARN HOW TO THINK, FEEL, REFLECT, etc... and that takes time, experimentation or a naturally high EQ, often without fanfare, adulation or immediate monetary gain, but like the INVESTMENT of College OR STUDY (with an open-mind from home), the Independent filmmakers "pay-off" (commercial or large-scale filmmaking) is pretty much guaranteed through the illustration of learned excellent skills, building strong networks of similarly skilled artists who can work together for a greater and more influential project, etc... The problem for some, though, is that the "pay-off" with likely happen later, rather than sooner so then the bean-counters take the easier routes less honorable routes to instant gratification (see exploitative imagery for the titillation of the public)... and easy sell. If we don't support our Independent films and the process the independent filmmaker is going through, then we are pretty much guaranteeing lesser quality projects from our community as the Indie filmmaker is neither encouraged or inspired by our demands for anything other than them and the bean-counters are willing to "that paper" by any means necessary. I'm tired... but I hope you all can get my point. If we were to look at some of the early works of filmmakers, of any background, in Hollywood, we would likely shudder. Let's give our filmmakers the same opportunities to grow.

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 12:44 PM

    @NADINE, I agree with the points you made 100%! I agree most tend to be hard on independent filmmakers, not realizing that it's a learning experience.

  • Nadine | September 5, 2012 12:27 PM

    Last thing, though... we have to also give honest critique of our independent films or else it will be difficult for those involved to grow. I am guilty of keeping silent and I understand the frustration from some who have to "stomach" some of the praise given to some indies that, in their book, sucked. I get that, so I'm thinking the solution is for all of us to be more open to the indie journey, but to be honest and vocal (with love) about the wrong turns the filmmaker took (I recommend providing praise first); not avoiding or distancing ourselves from the independent film, but growing closer and participating in helping to strengthen the future success of our up and coming filmmakers, and other artists involved. I'm done. Sorry.

  • Priss | September 5, 2012 12:03 PMReply

    Yuck. Turning around and going right back out. Why'd I even come into this post. Seewood thrives on touting his OPINIONS as facts in a offputtingly superior tone. Just Saying and his many incarnations are dumb as a doorknob. Charles Judson I disagree with here but at least his arguments are well-made and written with the tone of someone who has some damn sense. And Carey Carey. Just exhausting. Outta here.

  • justsaying | September 5, 2012 12:51 PM

    And here we go again.... Someone else VVVVVV @12:49 using my name....lol.

  • Justsaying | September 5, 2012 12:49 PM

    Priss, you may not be as dumb as a doorknob but you are as boring as a black turd thats stuck in a backed up toilet. But thanks for your comment. You've added so much to the conversation as usual.

  • justsaying | September 5, 2012 12:33 PM

    Priss, You are dumb as a doorknob... every time someone writes something in regard to AaFFRM that doesn't meet your liking, you pop up along with many other "commenters" that have posted MAYBE posted once on this entire blog IF AT ALL to aid you in your attack. You continuously create fake names and rearrange your comments to make it appear as if someone else agrees with your slow behind. LOL don't try to act like this is the first time you've visited this page. You tried to do it to NO BRAINER when No Brainer expressed a liking for MON's previous poster, and you tried to do it to both of us when we expressed that we weren't impressed with IWF. On this thread you came back lol when I expressed support for Andre Seewood's thoughts about AaFFRMS staggered and tentative releases... And tried to accuse me of creating fake names to take attention away from your continuous scheme. I find it odd that on topics relating to AaFFRM, 2 -3 people that "normally don't post" come out the cave to confront others. Lol Ridiculous! Go have a seat.

  • CareyCarey | September 5, 2012 12:50 AMReply

    Okay, since I've had time to think about my "complicity" in this most recent dust-up, I have a confession -- of sorts. Without a doubt I get on Andre's last nerve -- and I know that *lol*. But somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought we might apologize, shake hands and come to some form of agreement. But look, I am not talking about the impassionate/impersonal cookie-cutter "agree to disagree" thang. Nope, if I'm going to do the damn thang, I have to have some soul in mine. But hey, it's possible that Andre does not see any value in my words or that he has done nothing wrong. Or, he doesn't respect me enough to waste his time? In that case, I can't force the man to concede anything. But you know what, I've been in similar "heated battles" with practically every regular contributor on this blog. Yep, from the old staff of MsWoo, Monica and (I forget the name of the other female) we've all been there. Are you kidding me... Tambay and I have had face to face mean mug throw-downs and Sergio too. Heck, which visitors have I NOT went toe-to-toe with? Nadine (she called my "style" disgusting :-), Blutopaz (she called me a lawn jockey and handkercheif head :-), Misha, Accidental Visitor, SonOfBaldwin (we were bitter enemies), Akimbo (we fought but now she agrees with me - sometimes :-), Carl, Micah (the young man is very intelligent but we couldn't agree on anything), Priss (to some degree), Jmac (just a touch), Darkan (a long time ago) Curtis and many I can't remember, we've all slung a little mud at each other. But all but a few, in most cases, we've found a way to bury the hatchet . But really, I don't see how that can happen between Andre Seewood and I. I mean, since most of Andre's words/post are a copy and paste job from his book and I truly believe his "position" is counter-productive to the advancement of black cinema, i don't know how we can come to an understanding of each others position? I say that because with his assessments of Spike Lee, Tyler Perry and Hollywood, he seems to focus on the "negative". I think we are better served by looking at the positive aspects of each of the above. The focus should be on doing better, not what someone else is doing or not doing, that's wasted energy. In my opinion Andre has taken the lazy and easy route of playing into man's intrinsic desires to engage in negative gossip... and blame the "other" person, place or thing game. Listen, in this thread many of the comments speak of how TP's and Spike's "success" should be analyzed and learned from, but Andre pooh-poohs those suggestions. Now, HAVE I been "wrong" in some of my comments? Absolutely YES! "CareyCarey and Andre Seewood should channel their energies into a remake of The Odd Couple. Let Spike Lee direct it and Tyler Perry produce it. Do you both act as well as write?" by ARTBIZZY. *LOL*Well, that's a goodie and I do act, but I have a more realistic idea. How about a live debate? That's right, I don't believe Andre can stand on his feet and come with it. I'd also suggest that each of us bring an "assistant" or companion debater. From all the intelligent minds who visit this blog, for my mate... I would choose... my friend... ***DRUM ROLL***** BONDGIRL! She's articulate, an analytical thinker, intelligent, quick witted and knows the business. I would choose Nadine to be the moderator. The moderator has to have the ability to stay non-biased. Plus, they also have to be articulate and stay one step ahead of the debators. Also, they must have the ability and courage to immediately step in when a team member is going off point or speaking too long (there would have to be a time limitation on responses). Now, I don't care who Andre brings to the party ( I don't fear any man, nor am I intimidated by someone with a "title", but they would have to be someone who has participated in this blog in some form or fashion. We can work out the small details by e-mail. There you go folks... this is my way of extending my hand to Mr. Andre Seewood. Question? Suggestion? Concerns? Feedback? Andre? ArtBizzy? Nadine? Orville? Charles? ARCHANGEL2020 (love your comments)? Akimbo? JUSTSAYING? JTC (loved your comment too!)? ALM (we need a young voice)? HELLUVA (you always bring 'it" - with courage)? MARK AND DARLA? What y'all say?

  • CareyCarey | September 7, 2012 10:09 PM

    @ ARCHANGEL2020 and HELLUVA, I could kick both of you in your ass. *LMBAO* Y'all should have stopped me. Blue Hill Avenue was BO-BO maximum. Daaaaaaaymn! The acting was TEAR-REE-BLE and the script was WHORE-REE-BLE. That movie was a corny corn fest.
    You 2 owe me... big time :-)

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 1:08 PM

    HELLUVA, yeah I forgot to warn CAREYCAREY about that! LOL But it's not as bad as some of the ones that Master P put out during his No Limit days!

  • Nadine | September 5, 2012 1:04 PM

    ... @CC - I actually can recall complimenting your style... and wouldn't engage with you if I thought your style was disgusting. We had one disagreement, where I found your argument disappointing, and hurtful because I DO NOT find you disgusting (or most people). You know what's disgusting? Beyonce and Jay-Z RENTING a house in the Hamptons over the summer for $400,000 a month, yet no schools built or attention to education (they would be stupid to do that "ish" anonymously as they know it would model philanthropic/education-centric behaviors from others in their industry). I saw that post over there on Angela Davis... it's like they contributed half a penny and are being given credit for saving the world. How's Marcy doin' Jay... end of rant.

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 12:57 PM

    CAREYCAREY, re; Blue Avenue, I gotta admit when I went to the local video stores to find it, it was always out and if memory serves me, I saw it over at one of my cousins' house. What did I think about it? I thought it was a cool, little movie. I can generally find something to like about most movies unless it's a total dog. But Blue Hill I thought was OK. I agree with you on Craig Ross Jr. Didn't he do one with Duane Martin, Tisha Campbell's husband about a private eye investigating a rapper's murder? I say go for it, brotha, can't hurt. The acting is OK but the writing leaves a lot to be desired but hey, I ain't complaining.
    As was it better than New Jack, hmmm? Good question, lemme get back to ya on that one, LOL!

  • Helluva | September 5, 2012 12:56 PM

    Prepare yourself. The acting in "Blue Hill Avenue" is painful...

  • CareyCarey | September 5, 2012 12:30 PM

    ARCHANGEL2020 re: Blue Hill Avenue. Let me tell you how this works in my house. I am the film snob and my lady is "if it's black it's right". Yep, to her all movies are "put your mind on hold and just watch". Plain and simple, she's easily entertained and I'm jealous. So she probably has over 700 movies in her collection, many of them black cast flicks. Anyway, a movie like Blue Hill Avenue would not be my first pick. If a movie is not a comedy I need good acting - first. So Allen Payne would not ring my bell. And the director, Craig Ross Jr. makes a lot of low-low-low budget movies. Don't get me wrong, I find some of Tyler's stuff enjoyable but we'd have to talk about, why. But check this, I am going to watch Blue Hill Avenue today b/c my lady has it. AND... a few reviews said it wasn't bad. Heck, one said "The Best Life of the Streets Movie since New Jack!". What you say? Now Zooman, as I said has old school Louis Gossett Jr. and Charles S. Dutton in lead roles so you know semi-over-the-top melodrama is par for the course. I saw it on VHS. Yeah, ain't no shame in my game. I'll pay 25 cents for one and enjoy the hell out of it. *LOL* Yep... sure do.

  • ARCHANGEL2020 | September 5, 2012 11:23 AM

    CAREYCAREY, You know what regarding Battleship, I really didn't have high expectations for that one. Just one of those movies where you just put your mind on hold and just watch stuff get blown to hell for about two hours. Yeah, I was checking out Rhianna's multitasking in this one, LOL! Just glad she didn't get killed off. She must have had that written into her contract. Wow! I didn't know that Jewison had directed Hurricane and A Soldier's Story. Been a minute since I've seen either of those. Yeah, I remember the young brother from Dancing In September, which was one of HBO's best efforts ,imho that is in addition to The Wire. I haven't seen Zooman yet, heard about it but haven't seen it. Question, you ever seen Blue Hill Avenue?

  • CareyCarey | September 5, 2012 7:06 AM

    ARCHANGEL2020, I thought Battleship was corny, predictable, totally unbelievable and waaaay over the top. Rihanna held down what seemed like every job on the ship. She was the gunner, the torpedo launcher, sonar operator ( I think) and the driver of the investigative team's boat. WOW! And she fought killer aliens with her hands... and she didn't die! BUT it was very entertaining. Yep, sappy but an entertaining 2 hours. My brothers who are navy vets thought it was the best movie of the year. They were yelling and jumping around like santa claus was on the roof. And one of them only has one leg (true story). Hurricane still is in my top 50. Side note: Norman Jewison directed Hurricane and A Soldier's Story ( I didn't know that until tonight). In Hurricane, the young black actor who played Denzel's pen pal was on a roll in the 90's. He got that role (second billing) and a year later he was a lead character in a film with Isaiah Washington and Nicole Parker (Dancing in September). In 95 he was also a lead in Zooman with Louis Gossett Jr., and Charles S. Dutton ( it was an entertaining TV movie. I don't know if you've seen that?). Anyway, I have not seen him in anything since 2000. Well, imo he was very fortunate to have that little run, or he had a very good agent because his acting was very suspect - imo.

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 3:00 AM

    Yup, CAREYCAREY, I see we got that in common. I'm generally up late most nights myself. We probably have similar tastes in movies, saw Battleship and Hurricane, liked em both. I think all of y'all are cool and passionate about what we discuss. When folks are passionate about a subject they tend to butt heads at times that's to expected. I agree in regards to the constructive criticism thing and I definitely appreciate the welcome to the comment section!

  • CareyCarey | September 5, 2012 2:39 AM

    Yeah ARCHANGEL2020, I've been reading your comments and I can tell you're open-minded. This place can be a ruff and intimidating place, but it's filled with a host of wonderful and insightful individuals. Most of all, as you said, it's like minded folks who enjoy films. Watching movies is one of my biggest passions so I am open for all types of discussion concerning them. Anyway, tonight I am watching "Hurricane" (again) and Battleship (I take a brake, get a snack, hit this site, and resume watching) I am a night owl :-). But yeah, I hope Andre comes back because when it's all said and done, I believe we are looking for the same thing. I believe he's a good guy but we seem to have hit a road bump. Welcome to the comment section of S & A. Oh, one more thang. One of my things/concerns is I don't like it when we tear down our directors/actors (whatever their genre). I don't see the rewards of doing that. Granted, some folks see "criticism" as a needed form of "feedback", yet frequently it's not constructive feedback. Thanks for the convo.

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 2:21 AM

    @CAREYCAREY, hey man, whatever you choose to do is cool with me. I just enjoy coming here to have discussions with like-minded folks and try to advance the biz. It's a major concern for me and I, for one, think a lot can be learned from everyone. I think we should look at all viewpoints and not dismiss any without some discussion of them.

  • Mychal | September 4, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    Would you and your entire family like to watch a movie together where you don't have to cover your childs ears or eyes? No stereotypes. No profane language. A film by a Chicago based film producer. Princess of Laos is a must see. The story of a lost love one. About a 13 year old girl born in Laos to an African American father she never knew. She also happens to be the great granddaughter of a woman once married to the King of Laos. View the trailer here at Shadow and Act. Search Princess of Laos.

  • Mychal | September 4, 2012 12:17 PM

    Release to dvd Sept 14th.

  • artbizzy | September 4, 2012 11:27 AMReply

    Why all the contempt for Spike Lee? Why the disappointment? Is it due to some of what Andre Seewood proposes in this article? Spike is not making the money he used to so his films are no longer considered “good.” Or does he just not make good films anymore? And how are we judging this? By making the objective subjective? I remember when Lauryn Hill came back with her acoustic album after being away for several years and after all that success she had with Miseducation and people were initially disappointed because her style and flow was different. But can’t an artist evolve and try new things? Even new things that might be unpopular simply because that artist needs and/or wants to? What happened to that? Spike Lee is 55 years old. He’s not going to make the same films that he did when he was in his 20’s and 30’s or even 40’s. And for those who like more mainstream Spike, he has stated repeatedly that he tried to make Inside Man 2 but he couldn’t get the money for that even though Inside Man 1 did really well at the box office. So what’s the resentment towards Spike Lee about really? I admit I am a ride or die fan of his though I don’t like all of his work (She Hate Me…ugh) but in terms of the body of his work from She’s Gotta Have it (I have yet to see the earlier barber shop one)) to this year’s Red Hook Summer the guy is hella prolific, hella smart, courageous and stays as true to himself as he can. Sure the man has an attitude. Good for him! He’s not kissing anybody’s ass and I applaud his determination in a very white, very cut throat industry. He keeps it real and doesn’t suffer much bullshit. To that I say, hear hear! I appreciate this article Andre because the bean counter mentality truly has a grip on our hearts and minds. Some art ain’t about the bottom line. Some art is. Let’s not confuse the two perspectives.

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 3:11 AM

    @ ARTBIZZY, I don't think the contempt comes from Spike not being a commercially viable director, producer or writer. Hollywood tends to not like outspoken black folks, which I guess we're not supposed to have an opinion on anything. Which is why I want us and other people of color to start building alternatives to Hollywood in the areas of financing, marketing and distributing. Until we can do those things, we will forever be at their mercy regarding projects we want to do. I'm a Spike fan from way back and I was really pissed when he couldn't get financing to do Inside Man 2 because the original showed that he could do a commercial Hollywood film.

  • Ava | September 4, 2012 9:07 AMReply

    Food for Thought, or rather a Question: If Haile Gerima, Steve McQueen and Julie Dash decided to collaborate on a multi-story film (in the direction of a Cloud Atlas), how do people think it would fare in terms of financial backing and distribution? Would that collaborative film project be able to 'break through'? Why or why not? As an artist myself but admittedly more of a theater person than film, this article has really got me thinking in concrete artistic terms...

  • Ava | September 4, 2012 10:18 PM

    @Charles Judson. Those particular filmmakers probably sprang to mind mostly because of the feeling I often get when I've watched their films--kind of like I'm watching a 'moving painting' of some sort. I can't clearly defend it or explain it...it is almost an entirely visceral feeling that these particular filmmakers might have complementary styles. Of course when I write I normally don't 'put the cart before the horse', and you're right, it should be about the project FIRST but having the opportunity to sit in on lectures with film producers while in Grad school, you'd be surprised that the production process sometimes appears to operate in reverse. There were a few instances where artists really wanted to work together but hadn't found a project. If the artists complement each other, the result could be artistry. Of course, you could also get a Mars Attacks. That might be more of an example where Hollywood actors got involved simply because they wanted to work with the director, rather than excitement over the actual material. I'm guessing that Hollywood makes more allowances for Tim Burton than it would for any of the filmmakers I just described.

  • Charles Judson | September 4, 2012 10:49 AM

    "If Haile Gerima, Steve McQueen and Julie Dash decided to collaborate..." Why those three? What is it about these 3 directors that makes you want to put them together on a hypothetical project? In relation to what Andre posted I think the question of financial backing isn't something that can be, or even should be answered till you have drilled down deep enough to create the project that would need the backing. Now, if you said these three were coming together to work on an adaptation of PARABLE OF THE SOWER that would be a different thing. Or, let's say a reworking of the Anansi myth set on Wall Street (this I would love to see for real). Then that's were we should start talking. It's the projects that should be getting us excited FIRST and then let's move on to backing and distribution.

  • Michael | September 4, 2012 6:22 AMReply

    Great article that I've been waiting for years for someone to write. I agree 150% with what the writer is propgating here. Black folks need to wake up and stop being followers when it comes to our films. Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article. It's the truth.

  • Orville | September 3, 2012 9:40 PMReply

    I also want add why don't other black filmmakers get off their black asses and do something to attract an audience? Steve Harvey's movie TLAM is more successful than Tyler Perry's movies. TLAM made over $95 million worldwide and it is also doing very well in international markets.

    I think other black filmmakers need to market their films better, and be more creative. People can't blame Tyler Perry for other black directors being unsuccessful. It isn't Tyler's fault that he has his market and he's making a lot of money.

    Also, look at Spike Lee his movies are doing very poorly now because his films are boring and unoriginal. People want to be entertained when they go to the theatre not depressed.
    Spike Lee used to do well back in the late 1980s and 1990s but he fell off the stage a long time ago.

  • CareyCarey | September 4, 2012 5:32 PM

    Andre, stop playing the nut-role b/c it's not working. What does the "quality" of any film have to do with me saying several black films have been released overseas? C'mon man, the "qualities" of said films cannot be changed once they've rapped production.

  • Andre Seewood | September 4, 2012 6:22 AM

    @CareyCarey, I thought you said you couldn't think of any Black films in the last ten years whose quality would have changed if the "impediments" that Andre is talking about were true? Now you say you've also said there have been several Black films released overseas? What a liar- you contradict yourself everytime you open your mouth or type a word. You got yo head so far up TP's ass you can't see the light of day. That's why you got two names CareyCarey cause all you are is double talk...

  • CareyCarey | September 4, 2012 1:43 AM

    Come on Andre, if you're going to "quote" me, please do not take my words out of context. To that point, I also said there have several black films released over-sea. I am sure you know which ones I'm referring to - huh? Sure you do but since they are not in the genre in which you love to champion, we both should sit back and say AMEN.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 11:31 PM

    @Orville, yes they have released TLAM overseas and this breaks a long cycle of not releasing African-American films overseas under the ruse that they would not play well in these markets. Even the illustrious CareyCarey stated several months ago, before the release of TLAM, that how could we be sure that there were other black faces overseas to watch our films. In which case, he was just parroting what the Hollywood execs were all saying to keep African-American filmmakers from getting into overseas markets. Well, hopefully the international success of TLAM will allow more of us to demand our foreign licensing rights, which in turn will allow us to become more ambitious in our filmmaking because the box office will no longer be segregated to just the domestic box office and we can take more risks. We'll have to wait and see, though.

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 8:12 PMReply

    @ Andre Seewood, your article is interesting and definitely relevant. That being said my reason for referring to Tyler Perry relates to how he has a built in audience for his films and how they seem to turn a profit. This is not to say that every filmmaker has to do the type of films that Tyler does. What I and other commentators such as Just Saying, JTC and CareyCarey are saying is that he has a model built on his previous success with his stage plays.

    Are we saying that everyone should make his type of film? NO!!!, what we are saying is that there is much to be learned from his model and incorporated into that particular filmmaker's style. As Just Saying put it, Spike had that connection with his audience with his earlier works that carried over to his later works until he started making movies that weren't interesting to some. We, at this point, need to build alternative distribution models that don't rely on Hollywood and we need alternative means of marketing to get people's butts in seats to see our projects.

    What we have to do is the passion projects as well as the mainstream projects. What we can take from the majors is this. They will do a crappy,commercial film to pay for the films they really want to do. In order for us to do this, we need to educate our audiences, which means reaching out to them by whatever means available. In regards to bootlegging, some films it may hurt, others it may not. But this all goes back to methods of distribution, if I can see a quality film at home, I'd do it. This where models such as online streaming come in.

    There are various ways to look at this situation, I think you and CareyCarey just have have two different ways of looking at it.

  • Archangel2020 | September 5, 2012 2:40 AM

    @JUSTSAYING, I definitely agree with you but that's why you really have to your homework regarding your target market because if you don't, it pretty much reduces you to using a scatter-shot approach which defeats the purpose of targeting specific markets. That's where you must know your target market well. True, you are making assumptions but they are targeted assumptions based on in-depth research you've done regarding your specific niche and target market. I think that's where the majors make a lot of their mistakes at but then if you have a "Think Like A Man" that offsets the losses you may take on a "Sparkle". Not that I think "Sparkle" was inferior in any way, in my opinion, it had a lot to do with when it was released and the controversy surrounding Whitney's passing.

  • justsaying | September 4, 2012 11:05 PM

    @Archangel2020, I understand what you are saying. My definition of "niche" was a little off...so that statement didn't make much sense to me initially. I agree that one must find a target audience... but I think many assumptions are made about who likes what etc and people begin to target audiences that they assume would like it instead of finding the actual audience for it...

  • Archangel2020 | September 4, 2012 4:35 PM

    @JUST SAYING, regarding your questions I'm going to attempt to answer them. Tyler Perry created his main character, Madea as one that a number of black folks within certain age groups would identify with. Most of us have had a situation where we had a feisty, older female relative who generally wasn't afraid to speak her mind and didn't take any stuff off of anyone and then put this character in situations his target audience could relate to. Basically when he went into the genre of movies, you see what he led with, Madea.

    It was only after his core audience had translated into a crossover audience did he attempt to branch out into other ventures such his appearance in the Star Trek reboot and the upcoming Alex Cross movie. So what I guess I'm trying to say is that you need to first define what your target audience is going to be and what appeals to that audience. Black culture is definitely not monolithic, so you need to find some commonalities that would appeal to them. The other thing is to respect your audience and develop lines of communications where they can interact with you and possibly give some ideas regarding your project. Now
    what he did worked for him but the concept and be adapted and tweaked to serve that particular filmmaker. Am I saying that everyone needs to copy his content and style? Definitely not! What I am saying is that what he did is not specific to him, most niche marketers do the same things he did. One resource that I've found that has a number of pretty good ideas is New Breed: The Workbook Project. They have articles and examples of indie filmmakers using alternative methods of marketing and distributing their works. The one underlying theme is that you've got to get your audience to participate your project in order to build it. This is basically what he did....we have to develop and educate our audiences in order to retain them. Hope this helps.

  • Justsaying | September 4, 2012 3:58 PM

    @ARCHANGEL2020, no. Tyler Perry developed his audience*** as I've said too and suggested we explore further so that both filmmakers and distributors looking to share more black films can use such strategies. But that doesn't answer my questions...

  • Archangel2020 | September 4, 2012 3:24 PM

    @JUST SAYING, The way I see it was a niche that he developed through his fan base he built through his stage plays. When his fans found out he was going to be doing movies, they were curious to see how they would turn out. Since they knew his stage work there was little resistance to seeing his movies. As I indicating to Andre, Filmmakers don't have to do the same genre movies as Tyler does.

    What I'm advocating is that filmmakers adapt some of his methods for building a fan base. Because without fans of our work, we're pretty much sunk. What Tyler has done in the past is keep in constant contact with his fans. The one play of his that I went to, he came out and talked to the audience and he had his people circulate in the audience to get their e-mail addresses so that he could keep them informed regarding his next project. Take into account this pre-dated Facebook and other social media. So basically what I'm advocating is developing a fan base and keeping them informed as to what projects you may have and also developing ways of reaching out to them on a regular basis.

    One thing we have to realize and capitalize on is that our world is full of niches. There are very few movies that appeal to everyone. We see that in TV these days. Cable networks are beating the Big Three because they've figured what their niche audiences are. Anyone who does not recognize that they have to deal with niche markets is just not being realistic in today's hyper-connected world. With the advent of smartphones able to access Twitter and Facebook can have an effect on how a movie performs. Word of mouth can make or break a movie. Our job is to make sure that we enough fans of our projects to spread the word.

  • CareyCarey | September 4, 2012 3:18 PM

    @Justsaying, the "niche" word IS OFF BASE. It's another attempt by Andre to relegate Tyler Perry to an afterthought. If Tyler's audience and products are a "niche" how would one define those outside his market?

  • Justsaying | September 4, 2012 1:59 PM

    @Andre Seewood, you said "Analyzing Tyler Perry's marketing, branding and his connection with the Black audience is good, but it will only take us so far- because even though Perry is successful, he is still only appealing to a specific "niche" within the Black audience-" analyzing any one thing will never take us all the way home... But will get us closer. I do have a question because I hear this a lot and I am quite confused. Others please weigh in... What "niche" within the black audience does Tyler Perry appeal to. Is this niche based on the type of people or the content that he produces? Something about that statement seems off to me... Help me to understand....

  • Orville | September 3, 2012 9:33 PM

    @Andre Seewood I agree that most black films don't get released overseas. However, Steve Harvey's film TLAM is doing very well in international markets. Think Like A Man has made over $4 million dollars overseas according to Box Office Mojo. TLAM made over $1 million in the UK and over $1 million in South Africa. TLAM also I am shocked made over $400,000 in the United Arab Emirates and it will be expanding to more international markets.

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 9:11 PM

    @Andre Seewood, I agree with you that Tyler Perry doesn't have the entire black audience in his hip pocket. I think there are some things to be learned from him and incorporated along with other methods. We agree that we need alternative methods of exhibition and distribution to get our projects seen. That's why I read blogs such as this and New Breed: Workbook Project to get ideas in that regard. There is an urgent need to develop alternative methods to better our situation and get projects to the public to be seen. It is absolutely necessary that we develop systems of monetization for film projects in order to progress from where we are now. Once we do those things we won't be at the mercy of the Hollywood financing, distribution, exhibition system.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 8:47 PM

    @ Archangel2020 The discussion of Tyler Perry in the commentary feed is not what I have a problem with- it was Mark and Darla's explicit suggestion that I was discussing Tyler Perry and his success within the article and that's not what I am discussing. As far as CareyCarey goes- you're right we have two different ways of looking at things, but it is CareyCarey who doesn't want change and any attempt to suggest a stategy or detail the complexity of the obstacles that must be approached in a different fashion gets CareyCarey to further suggest that things are the way they are because they are just the way they are. (Which is tantamount to saying nothing at all.) Analyzing Tyler Perry's marketing, branding and his connection with the Black audience is good, but it will only take us so far- because even though Perry is successful, he is still only appealing to a specific "niche" within the Black audience- his success makes it seem as though he has the whole Black audience in his pocket, but that is not neccessarily true. I completely agree with you," What we have to do is the passion projects as well as the mainstream projects," but as long as we're at the mercy of the Hollywood financing, distribution, exhibtion system we are not in control of our own work. We lack the power, not the money.

  • Mark and Darla | September 3, 2012 7:02 PMReply

    Have anyone ever conduct a poll on movie theme, subject or topic that black people would like made by black filmmakers (good business practice). The author of this post believe or want you to believe (Tyler Perry went to Hollywood with his movie idea and a bidding war erupted among white studios). Tyler Perry success had nothing yo due with a bunch of white males behind a close door with narrow minded thinking (that the whole majority of black america only want to see a Madea imagine on big screens). Tyler wanders from studio to studio until he found a taker; Lionsgate took a chance (not looking in a crystal ball, oh his idea will make us a lot of money) not knowing what was going to happen. Tyler Perry movie success is due to imagines that a group of black people enjoy hearing and seeing in black movie made by a black filmmaker within a populating of forty-three million people. To the author if you have concrete evidence(s) of Sparkle sabotaged due to bootlegging, take it to the federal authority. I just can't see Sony not finding out their movie was being bootlegging on corners in the hood before Friday, August 17, 2012. Tyler Perry seem to find out when and where his movies are being bootlegging, he said on the (Tom Joyner show).

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 7:18 PM

    First off, thanks for perverting what I said in my article, because I did not say or imply that I," believe or want you to believe (Tyler Perry went to Hollywood and a bidding war erupted among white studios)." Secondly, Hollywood already knows that Black films are being bootlegged before, during and after their release in the theatres- so Sony Pictures can do their own leg work, thank you very much. And furthermore, if Tyler Perry can find out," when and where his movies are being bootlegging [sic]," then I'm sure you can extrapolate from his admission that his own films were being bootlegged, that the bootlegging of African-American films (and many other American films) is rampant, but that said bootlegging has a greater deterimental effect on African-American films because African-American films are not given access to foreign markets like other American films. My article is not about Tyler Perry or his success- but instead about difficulties of producing, distributing and maintaining African-American cinema beyond just the works of Tyler Perry.

  • JTC | September 3, 2012 5:18 PMReply

    PLEASE FEEL ME ON THIS, MY POST IS NOT GOING WHERE YOU MIGHT EXPECT FROM THIS BEGINNING. Hollywood is not on our side. No doubt. I am not sure what exactly they think about us at the highest levels, but black film continues to struggle. I spent several years there working on different films with filmmakers from different backgrounds. The black films had it harder. Some of the problems were related to budget (not enough days to shoot, smaller production teams overwhelmed by having too many responsibilities) some of the problems were related to how we tend to do each other (actors more focused on trying to act like a star than learning their lines and embodying their characters, directors who felt like they could film the first draft of their scripts, general lateness in an artistic medium in which scheduling is central, etc.) I watched my own first feature fail for the same reasons. I was told that the kinds of films I was writing would not be profitable. I argued with my peers as they tried to fit their projects into formulas, never to any avail. I went to parties and other creative gatherings and heard ignorant if not outright racist comments. I have watched the major festivals for over a decade waiting for the black filmmaker who drops that conversation changing film. I have heard about open and closed conspiracies (everything from aliens in charge of the media, to anti-zionists rants, to satanic rituals for access to the highest levels of success, to corporate entities headed by bigoted men and women)

    And through all that, I DON'T GIVE A F@#K.

    Let me be clear. And excuse me for getting up on a soap box. I don't mean that I don't think that you all haven't made intelligent passionate creative statements about your perspectives on the industry and state of black film. I am thankful that I was able to find S&A. I have encouraged my filmmaking friends to follow S&A and will continue to do so. I am inspired by the debate, even by those who write things which makes think they smoke crackrocks, LOL. But I DO NOT CARE what obstacles are in front of me. I do not care what the numbers say. I have my own number 2.7 billion dollars black folks spend on the movies. I use my anger and frustration from those obstacles to help keep my creative fire burning strong. My grandmother, one of the wisest women in history, told me distinctly, "don't worry about white people or black people for that matter, they are going to do what they are going to do. You do what you have to do." I read screenplays, watch classic films, study cinematic language, practice editing, receive insights from people such as yourselves. I study and push myself to go deeper, study and push myself to go deeper. I come from one of the most creative peoples in human history and I try never to forget that, not in the we built the SPINX way (though we did) but in the here and now. I believe in the awesome power of black creativity, of transformative art. I know I am preaching to the converted. However, I write this because I think that we sometimes lose ourselves in what the world thinks about our creativity, black, white, or otherwise. Art, from my perspective, finds its power from a place more esoteric in nature. The purer the vision the stronger the art. At some point, we have to dive deep into ourselves, through our issues, biases, prejudices until we locate that clear and distinct vision. After that, we have to willing to accept the results what that vision will produce. The early masterpieces will likely, as been stated about films like VERTIGO and CITIZEN KANE, my never be acknowledged or acknowledged decades after their making, but our efforts should be focused on the creation of a long term sustainable black film environment. We cannot skip steps. The recent film movements, KOREA, MEXICO, BRAZIL, for example, didn't just pop into existence, they stood on the shoulders of their giants. The most respected artists from every genre, from every generation, from every culture have been pretty much uniform about one particular perspective, the primary person they made their art for was themselves. . .

  • ALM | September 4, 2012 5:47 PM

    @ JTC: Your grandmother was indeed a wise woman.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 1:49 PMReply

    And furthermore, we don't neccessarily need a moderator, what we need are some agreed upon rhetorical groundrules and some greater intellectual maturity. Here's a start: 1) Our discussion of African-American cinema is not a zero-sum game; there are no winners or losers. The discussion is open and constantly evolving to avoid stagnation, ignorance and above all complacency. 2) All arguments, no matter how valid or outrageous, contain some amount of conjecture- so that conjecture in and of itself is not enough to invalidate an argument. This is particularly noticable when CareyCarey uses his own "conjecture" to say that someone else's "conjecture" makes their argument invalid. 3) Cherrypicking an argument to say it is invalid or contradictory is a sign of intellectual dishonesty and immaturity that cannot and should not be tolerated. This was particularly noticable with the comment by Midwestmama who counted the paragraphs of my article, then found a sentence- cut the sentence in two and proceeded to use one half of what I said to beat me over the head and say that the whole of my argument was contradictory. Since this dishonest tactic is also something that CareyCarey has consistantly used against me since I began posting on ShadowandAct over a year ago, I feel that it is necessary that we look at how it develops. Cherry picking an argument is a sign of intellectual immaturity because it reveals that the commentator who cherrypicks has only been exposed to one type of argumentative style: the oppositional style or us versus them. But cherry picking becomes problematic when it is used against higher level argumentative styles like Dialectical arguments (explaining two opposing views through which one then finds a synthesis that is greater and different from the two opposing views) or strategic arguments where one observes and gathers evidence that is used to support an alternative strategy or approach to a problem (which is my own favored style). Cherry pickers like CareyCarey and Midwestmama, when an argument becomes too complex or when the evidence gathered is beyond their knowledge or expertise, they look for sentences with complex statements that they can break into two parts, ignore one part and hold the other half as proof of the invalidity of an argument. Of course, all higher argumentative styles have complex sentences and qualifying statements which in turn makes it easier for weak-minded commentators to engage in cherrypicking which is intellectually dishonest. So I have written these few points as a warning because I am absolutely appauled at this CareyCarey character who has been attempting to intellectually crucify me everytime I post here on ShadowandAct- but all he has ever said and/or supported is the status quo, that things are fine the way they are and why would anyone want change. Thank God, he stopped using limericks and nursery rhymes in his comments, but then again those nursery rhymes made it so much easier to dismiss him. "How now brown cow?" This isn't nursery school, this is a real and urgent discussion of African-American cinema and how we can free it from the chains of the Hollywood studios. If you don't believe it needs to be freed then what the hell did you come here for other than to sabotage our efforts?

  • artbizzy | September 4, 2012 11:34 AM

    CareyCarey and Andre Seewood should channel their energies into a remake of The Odd Couple. Let Spike Lee direct it and Tyler Perry produce it. Do you both act as well as write?

  • Helluva | September 4, 2012 11:17 AM

    I think that's an excellent suggestion Nadine. I was thinking more in these terms though. Moving forward, how about our esteemed CareyCarey just avoid commenting, responding, or replying to pieces posted by this writer as they seem to consistently offend his sensibilities. Debate is (generally) a good thing but when you constantly strike at a beehive you're bound to get stung at some point. Just let it go...we know where you stand at this point. Or seriously lobby Tambay to write your own pieces for the site. Now I doubt any of this'll happen, but phukk it it's worth a shot lol...

  • Andre Seewood | September 4, 2012 10:31 AM

    @Nadine, I completely agree with you and I have said this to CareyCarey a while back in another post about Spike Lee- we can just agree to disagree. But he is indefatigable- It would just behoove him to simply agree to disagree. He is relentless in his fanatical devotion to TP and anyone who is not as devoted to this single African-American filmmaker must be mocked and denigrated. He consistantly contradicts himself and then uses nursery rhymes to obscure his vacillations and misleading interpretations of what I have written. Yes, agree to disagree is the only reasonable solution but that ain't enough for him. He still feels that he's got to win an argument that in itself cannot be won by either one of us- because this discussion of African-American film is evolving and not fixed around one single successful African-American filmmaker as he would so believe. And so it just goes on and on...

  • Nadine | September 4, 2012 9:48 AM

    Maybe you two should agree to disagree. I have not thoroughly read your comments to each other just the original Andre Seewood comment (so I hope I'm not wrong in asking you both to step back from your conversation), but whatever is going on seems contentious and unlikely to be solved through this back and forth which I'm sure most anticipated would go on for days. Can we slow this down and just agree that you both are passionate about your beliefs.

  • CareyCarey | September 4, 2012 2:17 AM

    @ Andre, I feel like I am hitting a midget with a brick because you're obviously out of your element. You should pick your fights more wisely in the future. Listen, you're a writer not a smack talker. That's right, you've managed to convince someone to allow you the luxury copying and pasting portions of your book, which probably required months of editing and re-writes. But now you're here walking in quicksand. This is obviously a platform that makes you very uncomfortable. You let your emotions rule you and you're il-prepared to handle constructive criticism. Young man... know you audience and your battleground and pick your fight wisely. Btw, you err when you try to relegate the comments/visitors to this site to a mere " message-board game". Let me tell you, this may be a tough crowd but there ARE many great minds (from all walks of life) who share their opinions at this blog. So take my advice, don't fool your self into believing that their opinions are not shared by millions. You just have to accept the fact that you don't know everything and everyone does not share your opinions, likes and dislikes. Hey, you've been schooled today so you should look at that as a good thang. Don't hate the messengers, embrace them. We don't want enemies on our own team.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 11:25 PM

    @CareyCarey, as usual you talkin' loud, but ain't sayin' nothin... And why in the hell would I want to debate the word "ignorant" with the person who personifies it?

  • CareyCarey | September 3, 2012 9:43 PM

    Andre, we can debate the definition of the word "ignorant", esp how it's used in black slang, but let's get something straight. Your refusal to accept and acknowledge what ten or more other commentors/visitors are saying about your post and my concerns, is testament to you, Andre, being stuck on dumb and stuck on yourself. Listen, you've constantly and continually used Tyler Perry as the poster child for all that's wrong with the state of black cinema (stop denying it. You're not fooling anyone -- except -- maybe yourself). Several others do not believe that's a good idea. As many have pointed out, one may not adore Tyler's films, but to relegate him to a position that you have, is letting your emotions and your own likes and dislikes cloud your critical thinking skills. But nooooo, every time someone other than me tries to persuade you to open your eyes, you give a small glance of approval, or understanding, but quickly move the conversation to some ambiguous side-point. Thus, again, you love staying stuck on stupid. Hey, that reminds me. You're showing signs of The Emperor and His New Clothes. Everyone is trying to tell you something that you really need to know, but you're not trying to hear what the peasants have to say. That is... you may be the king of this article but your ass is hanging out.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 9:01 PM

    @CareyCarey, you callin' me ignorant, that's a joke- and I never said or implied that I have CONTEMPT FOR THE BLACK AUDIENCE: "Respect for an audience can only be based on the conviction that they are no stupider than you." (AT) It's just that you keep tryin' to preach that I do and that is not True. "By default," you say I'm bascially telling everyone who likes Tyler Perry's works that they are dumb, ignorant slaves... That's CareyCarey saying that - not me! That's your fault.

  • CareyCarey | September 3, 2012 7:19 PM

    There's nothing more disturbing, disgusting or pitiful than to see a grown man crying and pandering for sympathy in the most embarrassing way. Damn man, I should start calling you Charlie Brown. You know, that guy from the song "Why is everybody always pickin' on me"-->"Fe-fe, fi-fi, fo-fo, fum I smell smoke in the auditorium. Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown, he's a clown, that Charlie Brown. He's gonna get caught, just you wait and see (Why's everybody always pickin' on me). Who's always writing on S&A's wall. Who's always goofing in the hall? Who's always throwing spit balls. Guess who (who, me Andre) yeah, you. Who walks in the classroom, cool and slow, who calls CareyCarey, Daddy-O. Charlie Brown Seawood's around. He's a clown, that Charlie Brown. (Why's everybody always pickin' on me)." Now Mr. Seawood, in your haste to cry, blame and vilify me, did you stop to think how nursery rhymes and fables have been used as teaching tools by governments throughout the world ? A fable can teach the necessity for deductive reasoning and subsequent investigation. A parable for instance, is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or (sometimes) a normative principle. Which brings me right back to you. You're like a trojan horse. If we don't question your ideologies and thus graciously let you in the door, all types of havoc can break out. That's why I feel a need to challenge your posts. You've shown the signs of a fear monger. That's right, in so many ways you've trumpeted the words "The sky is falling! Hollywood is boogieman and he's after us". Surely you can see how your words are being used to incite an unreasonable fear in black folks. So that's you, Chicken Little, the slippery mouth one who warns of or predicts calamity, especially without justification. And we all know what happened to Chicken Little and those who followed her? Well, on the road to tell the other black folks (inhabitants) what they've deduced, all their heads were bitten off by the more wisely Foxy Loxy. So again, I am here to protect you and others from your self imposed Yellow Brick Road. That reminds of what HELLUVA said: "Ah, therein lies the rub. Not everyone is here for "intellectual" engagement". WOW! I don't know if Helluva knew how poignant those were are? That message IS the BIG ELEPHANT that's blocking Andre's view. But I, ARCHANGEL2020, Orville, JUSTSAYING, JACETOON, MIDWESTMAMA, HELLUVA and SAYWHAT see quite well. The central point or understanding of this thang called "cinema" is--> "not everyone is here for what Andre deems important or "intellectual". YES YES YES, Jacetoon caught it -->" You Andre, cannot blame the audience. If you're coming from a place of contempt for the audience then it will be near impossible to make a significant film". Say it one more time, CONTEMPT FOR THE AUDIENCE! Now that's one of my biggest concerns with the character Andre Seawood. In his ever present haste to show others how intelligent he is, he uses Tyler Perry as a Springboard to everything that's "wrong" with Hollywood and black cinema. By default, he's basically telling those who understand (Tyler inspires deep thought, he give us deep lasting feelings, he gives positive messages, he knows movies are about instant stimulation), appreciates and/or find value in Tyler Perry's production, that y'all some dumb, ignorant, unintelligent negro slaves if you don't "think" like Andre. But as witnessed by the more open-minded comments, every black person is not buying Andre's brand of bulls*it. Truth be told, Mr. Andre Seawood is not as smart nor intelligent as he thinks he is. And it burns his soul when people call him on his brand of superiority complex. In short, the character Andre wrote 3 looooong posts (throwing a punk-ass style hissy fit), trying to discredit me and paint me as the "happy slave". But truth be told (I did not want to go here with him but..) he shows the signs of a REAL house nigga. If we listen real good, we'll see his real motivations and why he's the real House Nigga of black cinema. The opening act: The scene opens with the slave, Seawood, preaching to the hard working field hands: "I's Andre, the house nigga. Y'all done seen me up in here learning from the master. I's intelligent, so I'm gonna tell you dumb field niggas what y'all should like, and how you should go about yo day. First, stay away from that field negro CareyCarey. That boy is bad news. He might have y'awls thinking too much and we can't have that. Just listen to me, cuz i's intelligent and he's a cherry picker. Okay now, I know none of you slave knows nothing about "divide & conquer" cuz y'all can't read, but since im real smart, we gonna do it like this. Well, there's this free slave up north who been showing dem new picture shows. I don't find anything good about that nigger, so er'body who agrees with me get on one side of dat der ditch. The rest of you get on the bad side. But please please please, before y'alls make your decision, please don't listen to that field negro CareyCarey. I mean, although he knows your pain and joy, cuz he was born and raised in the brier patch and has seen every weapon used against black folks, i's the smartest and most intelligent one around this here plantation. So y'alls should want to be just like me! ~ The Character Andre, the not so giant. HELLUVA | SEPTEMBER 3, 2012 11:30 AM "Hahaha...oh, WOW. Y'all going there, huh? NADINE | SEPTEMBER 3, 2012 7:14 AM. Oh LAWD Andre... now ya' done did it... but I'm sure you know what you're getting yourself into?" CareyCarey 7PM: It's too late. Mr Seawood should have asked somebody BEFORE running his ignorant mouth. LMBAO! Now he has been exposed for what he truly is. An insecure little man who's suffering from a severe case of superiority complex.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 5:42 PM

    @Helluva, you're absolutely right about that "message-board game" it is what it is...

  • Helluva | September 3, 2012 2:51 PM

    Ah, therein lies the rub. Not everyone is here for "intellectual" engagement (unfortunately). The inherent drama of the "message-board game" seems to be a greater draw for many. Whether or not I agree with every detail, I've always appreciated the depth of analysis & foresight your articles provide. There are other writers on the site who I find to be gossipy & E-channelesque. Not really my thing, but I'm a theory-head at heart. There are those, however, who'll feel as if they're being "talked down to" when reading your work, especially when they find that their opinions or worldviews are challenged & questioned. And some people just wanna argue for argument's sake. It is what it is...

  • Orville | September 3, 2012 1:45 PMReply

    I understand the genesis of the article that film is an art form but I question if the author really takes into account the issue of race in relation to art? Hollywood is a business and it is a racist business. Art is subjective it is open to interpretation and I don't think the author of this essay challenges enough the power of white Hollywood and now it enforces a Eurocentric standard on what is considered good art. On Shadow & Act, I still notice a mentality of wanting white validation and acceptance. For instance, Beasts of the Southern Wild has done well at the box office but it has also received a lot of praise by the white film critics and white media. Is Beasts of the Southern Wild good because white people say so? Or is the film good just because it is good. Whether people want to admit it or not it seems minority filmmakers are held to a different often racist standard of breaking through in Hollywood. A minority filmmaker in order to "breakthrough" into the mainstream for some odd reason requires white validation and acceptance. Another example, is Precious, I thought that movie was a piece of shit, but once again white film critics, Oprah, Tyler Perry and the black snobs praised that movie and MoNique won an Oscar.

    It is harder for black filmmakers to breakthrough because Hollywood doesn't think black films can turn a profit. So Hollywood is less likely to take a risk on black films. So yes, profit is extremely important whether people want to admit it or not.

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    This is all I have to say on the subject. I refuse to believe that with the creativity that exists within communities of color that we cannot build alternatives to the old Hollywood system. Not to jump on the Tyler Perry bandwagon, but I have to give him props for building a loyal audience that he has managed to maintain through a lot of movies that I thought were not that great. He built his audience at the grassroots level and through word of mouth. Now take into account this was well before the emergence of social media and was mainly built on the so-called "chitlin play circuit". We have a wide range of stories yet to be told and now there more avenues to tell those stories than the traditional route. Blogs such as Shadow and Act and others get the word out. It's up to us to support these artists if we want to see our stories told in a decent way.

  • JTC | September 3, 2012 4:10 PM

    JUSTSAYING I feel you on that post. A part of my background is from the fine art arena, and one of the things I always heard people say is that you can sell the art or the artist and only in the rarest of circumstances can you sell both. I think TYLER PERRY the businessman is absolutely masterful in relation to this fact. It would be useful to have more discussions on how black filmmakers can learn how to market themselves and their films. Spike Lee once had the black community 100 percent behind every project that he worked on. Its kinda like the early stars in basketball who never got the paydays that the young players today are getting. Unfortunately, Spike's bitterness and resentment are the biggest things that most black people think of when they hear his name now. Although I understand the reason for his bitterness, the response of artist to adversity should really be to elevate the level of their art. Yet, as much as I love Spike, it appears to me that his film have regressed in quality. It took Spike several years to finally buy a camera and remember the lesson of his early maverick years (even though the technology has rapidly improved since BAMBOOZLED) Tyler Perry has much he can teach us, regardless of whether or not we are fan of his work.

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 2:02 PM

    @Just Saying, I fully agree with your statements. Whether you hate or love Tyler Perry, you've got to admit he knows how to build an audience and maintain their loyalty thorough his various projects! I definitely agree with indie filmmakers of color following T.P.'s lead in engaging the audience well after the film experience is over. Instead of just doing it for a quick buck there has be a cultivation of a fan base that is enthusiastic and wants to know about and wants to see that next project.

  • justsaying | September 3, 2012 1:03 PM

    Props indeed. And I think more focus and even an article or two should be devoted to his strategy to build and maintain his audience. He is 100% visible. The fans are fully aware of what he puts out for them to see and take in. His website and fanpage is unapologetically filled with details on his work past and upcoming and many opportunities to engage. I enjoyed watching his plays. I never saw one live , but on the DVD after the actors would come and take their bows he would come back out and talk to his audience. He would go above and beyond a "mission" statement and engage in his audience almost like a sermon when the audience is most vulnerable and open. He would consistently talk about his struggle and his goals. That was the last thing they heard when they walked out the theater. Anyone who saw this performance whether live or from dvd had access to these intimate talk afterwards. Many people connected with HIM and his story. And that connection supported him as he moved into film and television. And he maintained that connection with videos to his fans "inspiration letters" to his following etc. So many fans are fans of HIM and his journey, and they will support him no matter what. Tyler Perry has presented himself as an extremely gracious and humble person, and **shared with his audience** again and again. Name other black filmmakers today doing what HE does with their audiences? Does independent film alone at the present moment allow you to build that audience and visibility the way he did with theater? There are many things that contributed to his success that can be evaluated, discussed, and replicated if given enough focus.

  • Andre Seewood | September 3, 2012 7:03 AMReply

    As per usual CareyCarey is asking the wrong questions and coming to completely erroneous conclusions. He began his earnest attempt to uphold the status quo by saying, "Lets say all that Andre has proposed is true, what would have changed. Okay, if those barriers were not in place, or ten years ago they didn't impede our (black films) from gaining exposure, what films in that period would be more "successful"??? ...Listen, to be brutally honest, in the last ten years, I can't think of one black film whose "success", "quality" and "status" would have significantly increased if the above "alleged" impediments were not in place. Granted, they may have made a little more money (as the cost of distribution and advertising increased) but the "quality" of said films CAN NOT be changed! They are in the can." I pray that those of us using our intelligence can see that this is a simple "chicken or the egg" rhetorical smoke screen, because if CareyCarey can't think of one black film whose success, quality or status would have increased significantly in the last ten years IT IS a direct result of the existence of those "impediments" that I have discussed. Furthermore, such challenging, ambitious and diverse black films are not being financed, let alone distributed- so our most convincing evidence of the existence of what CareyCarey calls "impediments" is the absence of such films. (unless CareyCarey is trying to convince us that African-Americans don't have any ambitions, challenging ideas or diversity of opinions, but I know he couldn't possibly be suggesting such a preposterously racist notion) Because ambitious, challenging and diverse African-American films can't get financing and distribution CareyCarey wants us to believe that Hollywood and the studios have nothing to do with this problem; its all Black People's fault all they got is Tyler Perry. And just to set the record straight I have not only questioned Hollywood, but I have also questioned us, as Black people, for excerbating these dismal conditions specifically in two different articles: 1) Bootlegging and the Plot Against African-American Film and 2) Spooks in a Mirror, which I all but dedicated to CareyCarey- as well as several others. To me, and this is just my humble opinion, CareyCarey is like the "happy" slave, content and pacified on the plantation several years before the Civil War. This "happy" slave says to himself," I don't know what these n*ggas is so against Massa for. Massa ain't never whipped me. He give me these rags to wear and let me stay behind his mansion in this nice tiny little shack. All I gotta do is work from sun up to sun down and let my wife warm Massa's bed from time to time. And you wanna know what the best part is? The best part is I get to eat the scraps from Massa's table- now that's some good eatin', I tells ya. I don't know why in the hell these n*ggas would wanna leave this plantation and do for theyselves? Heck, we don't even know if its any other n*ggas beyond this plantation that feels the same way." What I'm saying is that we have to be careful, its not just the "white" man or the Hollywood system (corrupt and complicit as it is) that we have to battle- but also the "happy" slave- because he's the one that will do everything in his power to force us to keep everything the same... This "happy" slave is the snitch and the FBI informant, he's the hater and the manipulator, he's the backstabber and the money grabber, but what is most frightening is that he looks, talks, walks and acts just like he's one of us who want to be free. But he doesn't want freedom, he is content with the way things are.

  • CareyCarey | September 5, 2012 8:12 AM

    @JACETOON... WOW! How did I miss your post? Your comment and JTC's September 3, 2012 5:18 PM are without a doubt the most insightful, informative and honest of them all -- in this thread. "Independent Black producers have not truthfully tapped into the wants of black audiences. (not what they say they want but what they really want) Tyler Perry films aren't the message Tyler Perry is the message. Magic Johnson is the message. Will Packer is the message. You cannot blame the audience. If your coming from a place of contempt for the audience then it will be near impossible to make a significant film. All films are limited by the vision of the Producer/director/writer" Excellent job Jacetoon! Btw, pssst... be quiet, I don't think Andre wants anyone to mention or address Godwin's Law. I mean, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made ( Slave Master/Hitler, Nazis/Slavery ), the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis/Slavery has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

  • Jacetoon | September 3, 2012 2:41 PM

    There should be an equivalent of Goodwin's law for slavery references. Film is business just as art is business. Film studios are publicly traded companies that are responsible to share holders. No executive would green light a movie that they expect to lose money. They may expect a smaller return (up front) but never lose. Sony will make The Amazing Spider man to cushion the less profitable A dangerous Mind or The skin I live in. With the up front less profitable films they pour money into getting critical praise and awards which lead to more people watching it (profit on the back end). Every project is the result of bean counting. The film as cultural prestige ( I guess you mean auteur directors)and profit died when the studios stopped being run by film based studio heads (Robert Evans being the last) and by people with no film background from larger conglomerates. All above the line people are bean counters. They all want people to watch their films. In my opinion independent black directors/writers don't bean count enough. To tell the truth most of the independent films announced on this site I have no desire to see due to subject matter. Independent Black producers have not truthfully tapped into the wants of black audiences. (not what they say they want but what they really want) Tyler Perry films aren't the message Tyler Perry is the message. Magic Johnson is the message. Will Packer is the message. You cannot blame the audience. If your coming from a place of contempt for the audience then it will be near impossible to make a significant film. All films are limited by the vision of the Producer/director/writer.


    1) Vertigo was successful just not as successful as AH previous films. When Hitchcock could no longer provide profits he was no longer funded. They put him out to pastures.2) Citizen Kane was hampered by the Hearst. Because OW didn't bean count his films ran over budget and he was no longer used as director. There was no just for prestige only bean counting. 3)Terence Malick, like Coppola and Scorsese, got their start due to a mentor and outside of Hollywood.4) Cronenberg and Von Trier ( Welles too) got their start with gov't funds. I think NEA is on life support now. You should read about the production of Spider. DC stopped turning a profit and they cut him loose. It's no coincidence he went from Spider to History of Violence. Bean counting. I guess I'm just saying the 70's are over and blockbusters must occur for the cultural significant film to exist ( I really can't think of any future classics being made today by any race of director). Ok rambling now. Just want to point out. Spike Lee sold socks, Sam Raimi cut a trailer and threw a party to raise money for Evil Dead, Tarantino worked in a video shop and sold scripts, former truck driver James Cameron worked on as a film electrician, Romero got 10 people to give him 600 bucks for Living Dead.. The countless novices now “big” Hollywood directors that made horror films, because they are always profitable, to get their foot in the door.

  • Helluva | September 3, 2012 11:30 AM

    Hahaha...oh, wow. Y'all going there, huh?

  • Nadine | September 3, 2012 7:14 AM

    Oh LAWD Andre... now ya' done did it... but I'm sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

  • CareyCarey | September 3, 2012 1:55 AMReply

    HOW DO WE TURN OUR RAGE w/ Hollywood's Myopia Into Power, Influence, Action...?
    Tambay replied: "I'm really just trying to shift how we think about our involvement in all this... focusing much less on what we don't like, and instead investing our time, energy and resources into what we do like. I find that MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE. Now I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with being frustrated, and angry, and raging, and expressing all of that. But at some point, [some damn point] it's got to get tiring, doesn't it? I'm just trying to inspire a different kind of conversation, and mentality, which I think is more purposeful, and gets us closer to that black cinema utopia many of us long for, where we're represented in our VARIED experiences" AMEN! I highlighted those words as a precursor to the areas of Andre Seawood's article which I believe are in direct conflict with Tambay's goals, and my own displeasure with Andre's rhetoric. But first, I believe this post is in need of a moderator. As with many posts and subjects of this nature (as witnessed in this post), the comment section can quickly run off course. Folks start speaking for the author (putting words in his mouth and then building their argument from there). Also, on several occasions arguments ensue that have little or nothing to do with the central issue. If a moderator stayed invested in the post, they could clarify confusing issues and TRY to keep the post "focused". Now, in respect to Andre's posts, how are the use of the following words and the inferred message behind them, moving black cinema in a positive direction? "Slave Cinema"... "Black blackfaced minstrelsy of a Black man in a wig"... allegations that.... "African-American films are denied access to foreign markets, because films written and directed by African-Americans do not maintain that certain genteel sentimentality and racial hierarchy (whites over blacks)"... "As African-American filmmakers, we are being "hoodwinked" by faulty box office grosses"... " We have effectively created by default a slave cinema"... "some films are made for prestige and cultural dominance on the world screen". Now tell me, how is any of the above conducive to inspiring conversations that--> "invests our time, energy and resources into what we do like"... "a different kind of conversation, and mentality, which I think is more purposeful, and gets us closer to that black cinema utopia many of us long for, where we're represented in our VARIED experiences". Questions-Questions-Questions.

  • justsaying | September 3, 2012 10:28 AM

    @CareyCarey, Hold on, in your earlier post, you said " And... If a person can't identify a problem, they can't fix it." I don't think these statements are moving us in a negative direction, and I believe they can actually push towards **change** if we take such observations and devise ways to redirect things. This article and many other articles discussing the climate of Black films will always be relevant to the conversation because not enough people are versed in the details of what exactly contributes to the barriers. Instead the general consensus is that it's tough, hollywood isn't for us, etc. And that is enough to get us angry yea! But rage doesn't go a long way when you are unsure what you are trying to redirect below the surface. "Overcome hollywood" is not a tangible goal. However, working to build an ever expanding distribution company is more specific, tangible and of a greater value to redirecting Black cinema in a different direction. I believe you have to acknowledge what's going on first in detail to to set goals toward changing it.

  • kid chaos | September 2, 2012 6:46 PMReply

    Your Comment..This site must be run by women because of all the smack talking.

  • kid chaos | September 2, 2012 6:42 PMReply

    Face facts black films are terrible with out a good white writer most black actors would be nothing

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 11:59 AM

    You're not serious are you?

  • ALM | September 2, 2012 6:12 PMReply

    "This is an ironic circumstance that begs the questions: Does the race and ethnicity of Behn Zietlin afford him a broader, less stereotypical and ambitious cinematic perspective on African-Americans than we ourselves possess? Are we standing too close to the mirror to see all of the many diverse facets of ourselves and our culture because we are blinded by the vanity of making films solely to get rich and famous?"

    <<<Yes. As director Haile Gerima stated in his interview, "You can make a movie about my mother. I have no right to my own mother’s story." If things were post-racial, then "Beasts" would receive the same funding, support, etc. no matter who directed/produced the film. It's sad that we are still having this issue. I don't know what the fear is....if 10 successful African American films are released every year for the next 100 years, who loses out? NO ONE...the studio owners make money off of stories that aren't even their own. When studios are unwilling to greenlight films even when you have hits such as "TLAM", then you realize that "post-racial" is an extreme fairy tale.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • 35th Durban International Film Festival ...
  • Lennie James is Hunted by Jean-Claude ...
  • Watch Idris Elba-Headlined 2-Part Motorcar ...
  • Deborah Cox Will "Provide Vocal Tracks" ...
  • If it Wasn't Clear Before, Shonda Rhimes ...
  • Damon Gupton/Nia Long Legal Thriller ...
  • trinidad+tobago film festival and Amnesty ...
  • Special Screening Of Bill Duke’s 'A ...
  • DIFF 2014 Preview: Ethiopian-Set Fantasy/Historical ...
  • The Fledgling Fund Announces Film Media ...