Just over a year ago, I had a phone chat with writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood about a piece I wrote around the same time on what I called the "dismal outlook for black filmmakers in Hollywood" (read it HERE if you missed it). I learned quite a bit from that conversation, in which she essentially filled in some holes I couldn't really address in my piece because, well, I'm not on the inside, and just don't have the necessary access.
But it was great talking to her and hearing her take on this "lack of representation problem" we discuss so often here on S&A and elsewhere.
During that conversation, I learned that she was working on a project or two, although she couldn't give any details on what any of those projects were/are, understandably.
We did eventually learn that she was in talks to direct Before I Fall, for FOX - an adaptation of the best-selling young-adult novel by Lauren Oliver, which centers on a pretty and popular high-school senior, with the perfect boyfriend and seemingly perfect life, who sees it all turned on its head after a late-night of partying.
Also worth noting, Bythewood was developing an adaptation of Wally Lamb's novel I Know This Much Is True - once an Oprah Book Club selection.
Skip ahead a year+ to today, when I just happened to catch a tweet from Bythewood (she only very recently joined Twitter - about 4 days ago actually), in which she shared the above photo, along with the caption:
Official day one rehearsal with my star Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Laurieann Gibson! Putting in work! #blackbird
Needless to say, she immediately had my attention, and I instantly went on a hunt to see what I could find out about this.
In short, Bythewood began pre-production on a project titled Blackbird today, which she says is something she's been wanting to make for some time, and is evidently now getting the opportunity to do so.
She describes the film as "a love story set in the music world," adding that The-Dream is creating all the original music for film, which will be choreographed by Laurieann Gibson.
Obviously Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who we'll next see in Amma Asante's period piece, Belle) is starring. No word yet on who else is involved at this time.
Provided all goes well without any production setbacks, this will be Bythewood's first feature film directorial effort since 2008's The Secret Life of Bees.
This will be the second film by a black filmmaker, with a black cast, with the title Blackbird, announced in the last 6 months. Patrik-Ian Polk has begun work on his 5th feature film (he was casting for it as recently as February), also titled Blackbird.
But needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what Bythewood is cooking up currently, so stay tuned...