Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
James Franco Will Direct Film Based on Aziah "Zola" Wells' 148-Tweet Narrative That Went Viral James Franco Will Direct Film Based on Aziah "Zola" Wells' 148-Tweet Narrative That Went Viral Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See Watch Mekhi Phifer in Trailer for "First-Person Shooter" Zombie Thriller, 'Pandemic' Watch Mekhi Phifer in Trailer for "First-Person Shooter" Zombie Thriller, 'Pandemic' HBO Sets April Premiere Date for 'Confirmation' HBO Sets April Premiere Date for 'Confirmation' Watch the Electrifying First Trailer for Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Watch the Electrifying First Trailer for Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Watch: Tyler Perry Previews 'The Passion' 2-Hour Musical Event in New Orleans Watch: Tyler Perry Previews 'The Passion' 2-Hour Musical Event in New Orleans Before Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett's 2003 Documentary Before Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett's 2003 Documentary Idris Elba Makes SAG Awards History + Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah Collect Trophies Idris Elba Makes SAG Awards History + Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah Collect Trophies Ryan Coogler to Deliver Prestigious University of Chicago Kent Lecture Feb. 9 Ryan Coogler to Deliver Prestigious University of Chicago Kent Lecture Feb. 9 First-Look at David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in Amma Asante's 'A United Kingdom' First-Look at David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in Amma Asante's 'A United Kingdom' Poster: Mike Epps, Paul Mooney, Charlie Murphy Comedy-Thriller 'Meet the Blacks' Poster: Mike Epps, Paul Mooney, Charlie Murphy Comedy-Thriller 'Meet the Blacks' Watch Episode 1 of PBS' New Civil War-Set Drama Series 'Mercy Street' + On-Set Visit Watch Episode 1 of PBS' New Civil War-Set Drama Series 'Mercy Street' + On-Set Visit Watch: OWN Previews New Primetime Series 'It's Not You, It's Men' (Tyrese Gibson & Rev Run Host) Watch: OWN Previews New Primetime Series 'It's Not You, It's Men' (Tyrese Gibson & Rev Run Host) First Look at Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film, 'The Birth of a Nation' First Look at Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film, 'The Birth of a Nation' TV One Aims to Change the Reality Genre with New Series, 'The Next 15' TV One Aims to Change the Reality Genre with New Series, 'The Next 15' Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Is Heading to TV Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Is Heading to TV Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Denzel Washington Reveals Daughter Is In 'Django Unchained' + Roles He Regrets Rejecting Denzel Washington Reveals Daughter Is In 'Django Unchained' + Roles He Regrets Rejecting

Black Boys at Prep School: 'American Promise' Directors Discuss 13-Year Filmmaking Journey (Broadcast Debut Tonight On PBS)

Photo of Jai Tiggett By Jai Tiggett | Shadow and Act February 3, 2014 at 10:56AM

Black Boys at Prep School: 'American Promise' Directors Discuss 13-Year Filmmaking Journey (Broadcast Debut Tonight On PBS)
3
Seun Summers in 'American Promise'
Conrad Louis-Charles Seun Summers in 'American Promise'

JT: How did that affect you, to have to watch all these hours of footage of your family and make decisions about editing while you're still shooting the film?

JB: The process was so painful at first when we watched it that we would stay up for a few days unable to sleep. It would range from, "Did I really say that to my son?" to "Oh my god, that dress, I can't even get in it anymore." It's rough. From the physical to how you present yourself, to the way you speak. Our sentences would change after that. We stopped run-on sentences in our real life because they couldn't cut it. 

MS: But by May we had that 32 hours of footage. We wanted to make the Sundance deadline and we were really lucky to have three editors able to work at the same time. That's three years of work that we were able to condense into one. 

JB: We acknowledge that it's uncommon. The money came from a number of sources. We worked on this film for free for many years, but then we got some support from ITVS, Ford Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation came in at the end and that allowed us to do this. Some people say whoa, three editors. We've had films where we couldn't get one editor and we're cutting in the middle of the night while reading the manual of Final Cut Pro. We realize it's a privilege to work that way, but if you look at what it cost to make this film over a 13-year period, we did it with very little money. So we acknowledge and are grateful for the funding, but we know that the funding gap is significant for African American projects. 

JT: The film has done well to this point with very good reviews, the Sundance award, the theatrical premiere coming up, and now The Hollywood Reporter is listing it as a front runner for the Academy Award. 

JB: It's exciting to get the recognition that we are really filmmakers, that we really have some control over the craft, and that the issue is important around the country and will actually stimulate conversation. That's the only thing that it means for me. I remember someone telling us that the greatest fear is to be rejected, and one of our greatest hopes is to be accepted. So I'm sorry, I want to be accepted. I criticize America a lot in my work, but I want to be an American to be proud of. I want to be accepted. I want to be a part of solutions. 

JT: On the subject of what it means to be American, can you tell me about the title of the film? I understand it was originally titled The Dalton Experiment before it was called American Promise. To me, it brings to mind that issues affecting black boys are usually seen as black issues instead of American issues.

MS: Right, it's about understanding that our experiences are part of the larger American experience. It's also about interpreting what this promise means on different levels, whether it's the promise that we make to our son to protect and provide for him, support him, provide opportunities. It's the promise that this society makes to its families, and the promise that we hope the boys make to themselves. I just feel that the title has a symbolic strength that can be latched onto by anyone, and that's what we hope this story does. By titling our experience within that American context, we break the barrier of any kind of differences or stereotypes that other people will come with about who our boys are. 

JB: I was in Paris many years ago and I saw this sign that said "United States." And I saw a woman on the poster and it wasn't the "America" that I knew. So I would really like, when you say "America," that you see our sons and they're fully integrated into whatever that means, and seen without fear. That's what we've been promised, and I'd like for the promise to be kept. 

** 

American Promise will make its broadcast TV debut tonight, February 3, on PBS, as part of the network's Black History Month programming. For additional information on the film, visit its website HERE.

This article is related to: American Promise, Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, TV News


Shadow & ActNewsletter