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Help: I Want To Connect With Black Filmmakers/Actors In Your City; Where Should I Go? What Should I Do?

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 2, 2012 8:03 PM
36 Comments
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For almost as long as I've been running Shadow And Act, a question I'm asked often, whether via email, or when I meet folks in person (mostly black filmmakers and black actors) is whether I can connect them with any "support groups" for black filmmakers/actors/etc in their respective cities (although, most often, the question comes from folks living in so-called *big cities* like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and others).

I use the term "support groups" as an umbrella description even though the questions I receive don't say those words specifically. But that's pretty much what their searches can be summed up as. Essentially, they're looking for real (as opposed to virtual/online) spaces/collectives where they can meet and network with other black talents in whatever areas and cities they live in.

It's not a question I can always readily answer, because I live in New York, and so I'm most familiar with that terrain. Although I still wouldn't say that I'm aware of, or connected to every black filmmaker/actor/whatever talent group/collective that exists in NYC, even though I live here. So I often first reply with a question; and that is, what they, the people inquiring, are looking to get out of any group/collective, because that's where it really starts IMHO. You have to know exactly what you want to get out of the experience first, which will assist in narrowing down your choices.

And secondly, I tell them to join social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, if they don't already have accounts, and become *friend*, "like" or follow all those filmmakers we've written about here on S&A, as most of them are on both (and other) social networking sites - especially those you know live in your city; and then engage those folks you follow, or are Facebook friends with, and find out where they're hanging out, and who they're hanging out with, and be proactive. 

Third, I tell them to seek out and join any film organizations in their area, maybe volunteer at black film festivals or film screening series in your city (and almost every major city in the USA probably has a black film festival), which should provide further networking opportunities.

Fourth I suggest volunteering to work on film shoots. In a city like New York, there are often film shoots (by black filmmakers) happening on any given week, whether shorts, features, docs, web series, etc; and PAs (production assistants) are sometimes needed. That's also another way to meet and network.

Fifth, I tell them to go to their local colleges and universities - specifically the film departments - and inquire there.

But other than those few choices (and others not mentioned), I thought I'd present the question to you folks who read S&A; or it's more like a series of questions; those of you who've been at this for awhile now, and understand the hustle of it all, I'm interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this idea of a black filmmakers collective (some folks have suggested that Shadow And Act create one, but I just don't have the resources to put into something like that; and frankly, I'd say that this website is itself is a collective - a virtual one. And if you hang out here long enough, I think you'll pick up a few tips here and there - whether from the posts, or the comments - that could assist in your search).

But I'd like to read your thoughts on what you all do to stay connected, to meet and network, etc with other black folks in the biz, no matter on what level. If I were a black filmmaker or actor and I just moved to your city (whatever city it is) and I asked you where I can go to connect with other black filmmakers/actors/etc, what would you tell me?

Also, as someone asked, is there enough "unity" among us that a diasporic collective of some kind can exist and thrive.

And lastly, if you already belong to, or run an organization, group, collective, or whatever for black filmmakers or black actors, or black talents in general to gather, meet, network, commiserate, etc, please introduce yourself (especially if we've never written about you here), whether in the comments section below, or to me directly via email, and say what city/country you're in so that others in your area know how to get in touch with you. 

What I might do, depending on the response, is collect them all and create a list, sorted by location, and then make it a permanent fixture on S&A so anyone can readily access.

So, have at it... Don't be shy! Let's see where this conversation leads.

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36 Comments

  • dan | November 8, 2013 5:59 AMReply

    Dear
    I'm a writer i would love to join you, i'm having no formal training or so but i write movies currently i'm taking my writing to higher imagination in poetry i write the abstract poetry
    i hope you reply may be you might be the light

    thank you

  • Jennifer I | April 22, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    I realize this is an old post but I am an actress and aspiring filmmaker in LA. I would absolutely LOVE to connect with other African-American creatives not only in LA but all over the country. Let's build something. Get at me on Twitter (I'm just realizing the importance of this particular social network so forgive me) @Jennigolightly and we can talk further/exchange contact info

  • Gary Lloyd | March 10, 2013 1:23 AMReply

    Got all the equipment required to do an indie move. Need actors. I'm here in Atlanta. Check out the scripts I want to produce here:
    http://garylloydblog.blogspot.com/

    Let's get started!

  • Jeanette | February 27, 2013 2:54 PMReply

    I'm a young female filmmaker looking for some help creating my next project please visit my page and also check out some of my other work
    gofundme.com/269by8

  • CE | December 14, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    Mike, where are you located?

  • mike | December 5, 2012 12:57 PMReply

    I very glad to finally read this blog,i am also a film maker from Ethiopia.I wrote many scripts
    but i couldn't find anyone who wants to collaborate and work with me.please if there is anyone out there who likes to work or share ideas please contact me

  • David Titangoh | October 20, 2012 6:42 AMReply

    I must admit here that this is a wonderful initiative. I want to say that I for one, as an aspiring movie director, I have so many scripts written, but there is no one in place of a mentor that can guide me and see how I can develop. so the talent dies.
    I very much appreciate this kind of idea. If I could find a means of working with S&A I would really like to work with it. I am a Cameroonian, Cameroon is made up of about 250 tribes which means that at this particular instant, we have already 250 stories to tell. It has a rich cultural background which i call it a good platform for the production of films. all these are unexploited. Please if there is anyone who will be interested in doing a movie in Cameroon, contact me on (davidtitangoh@yahoo.co.uk) or you can call me on (+237-76416444). Like I said there are so many stories to be told. Thank you S&A for this opportunity given me to express myself.

  • jeff | July 20, 2012 3:38 PMReply

    I have always been a fan of films and would love for you to check out one of my comics I am working on http://www.indiegogo.com/doi I am trying to raise the money to finish the comic and to also shoot a trailer that will serve as a pitch to movie companies feel free to contact me for any questions thanks. It is a science fiction flick I'm trying to connect with other black filmmakers to get this trailer/comic up and out

  • Moe Fourte | February 11, 2012 9:49 AMReply

    Another place you can recommend for African American filmmakers is Moe Tv Online (http://www.moetvonline.com). Moe Tv Online is a social network where you can meet black filmmakers from across the country to collaborate with or simple watch and critique their work.

  • Moe Fourte | February 11, 2012 9:48 AMReply

    Another place you can recommend for African American filmmakers is Moe Tv Online (www.moetvonline.com). Moe Tv Online is a social network where you can meet black filmmakers from across the country to collaborate with or simple watch and critique their work.

  • andrew | January 17, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    please send me info on getting in DC film production where do i start

  • Minny | January 13, 2012 12:35 AMReply

    There's also the Black Film Festival in Miami every summer.

  • Rasheda | January 11, 2012 10:43 PMReply

    Hello everyone, for those of you that will be in the Los Angeles, CA area from February 9th - 20th, 2012 The Pan African Film Festival will be held in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. I've volunteered with this festival for two years now and LOVE IT! It's a great place to meet professionals, industry people, or just people who love films as much as I do.

    Last year I made some great connections which ended up helping me to shoot my first webisode and these days I'm working on a new project with an independent producer I met there. If you're in the area come out and meet filmmakers/actors/writers/directors of african descent from Los Angeles and all over the world! www.paff.org

  • Floyd | January 11, 2012 4:26 PMReply

    I'm a filmmaker in Los Angeles. I encountered the same issue as those folks you are referring to. I tried it all but probably at 70% effort. Results were mixed. So instead of waiting around I started my own networking group for black filmmakers. I've organized a somewhat bi-weekly networking event in Hollywood for the past couple of months. The group total is now at 72 consisting of actors, writers, directors, and producers. From that total I only knew 3 of them. I posted ads on craiglists asking people to join. Got a real good response. We do cold readings, improv and other informative activities.

    I would suggest to others to start their own groups in their own area and invite people to join. I'm sure you'll find people eager to join just like I did. BTW - If anyone will be in West Los Angeles on Sunday 01/15 3pm we are having another event with guests from Summit Entertainment, Deluxe Media and MGM Studios to discuss the legal side of filmmaking and distribution. The event is FREE. My email is dvigilante1@aim.com. Put "Broken Barriers" on the subject line. If you can't make it I'll keep you posted on our next event.

  • Sonia | January 7, 2012 6:18 PMReply

    I will be running a new financing initiative here in Seattle and want to encourage black filmmakers based in the NW with a project nearing completion to contact me or follow me on twitter for updates. sonia.powell@gmail.com @sonia_powell

  • bibi | April 24, 2014 10:37 PM

    Am an african living in africa. Am looking forward to shot international movies. Am 6.2Ft

  • Alex | January 4, 2012 6:30 PMReply

    Here in the UK we have BFM http://www.bfmmedia.com/ an organisation which like S&A serves to inform and promote black talent and cinema. There is plenty of info and forums where people can interact.
    There is also http://www.nucinema.co.uk/ and BUFF: http://britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk/

    There is a serious hunger and need to celebrate and boast the talents we have this side of the pond. It's a constant concern when our best talents can not get the work in the UK because the roles are not there. Lord knows we are never short of televised adaptations of British literary greats such as Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare; and while this is great for production in the UK it usually leaves those of colour without a chance to join in. Sam Mendes is casting colourblind in a Shakespeare adaptation on the BBC this year, it's only been a recent thing but thank goodness. So the organisations in UK are few but trust me there is a growing number of us who try to clamour together and promote what we can do!

  • J | January 4, 2012 9:30 AMReply

    For my fellow Canadians there is the Canadian Black Film Festival.

  • Bruce Cole | January 3, 2012 5:12 PMReply

    For years I've been just going through the motions as a cinematographer. I feel like I'm virtually invisible to the educated and artful black community! I would love to know how I could extend my services to everyone. If anyone is interested in connecting I'm @ www.brucefranciscole.com

  • sharome jordon | January 6, 2012 5:05 PM

    Hey Bruce I like to get to know you and eye!

  • Laura | January 3, 2012 4:56 PMReply

    Is there a "support" group for those who want to know more about indy/dyi film distribution.

  • Felisza | January 8, 2012 3:55 AM

    Also try Meetup.com I found an indie film group through Meetup here in Florida.

  • Felisza | January 8, 2012 3:53 AM

    Had you looked on LinkedIn? I've found a lot of film groups there. Google it (variations of indie film distribution, learning indie film distribution etc. maybe someone has created a blog)

  • Gina | January 4, 2012 12:13 AM

    I don't know if there is a support group, but there are tons of blogs about people's various philosophies about DIY film distribution. Let me know if you start one. I've studied it a great deal in "theory" would love to interact with people who've actually pulled it off or at least destroy my hypotheses.

  • Akelah | January 3, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    I am in the Washington D.C. area planning to form a collaborative group soon but I'm still open to joining one that is already established as well, if anyone knows of some please email me astar33.ent@gmail.com

  • shawnell harrison | January 3, 2012 1:29 PMReply

    I live In Louisville Ky,I am looking to collaborate with other filmmakers or actor/grips/crew.I am working on a webseries now-here is the pilot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsMQBxqIhs
    -it's about an astronaut that snaps

  • Louisville's Finest A Talent Showcase | April 19, 2014 2:16 PM

    Hi, Shawnell Harrison.

    Thursday April 24th, 2014 at Bon Air Library 2816 Del Rio Pl Louisville,KY 40220 from 6:30 pm til 8:30 pm there will be held for the 4th time "BLACK CINEMA DISCUSSION 2014." We're going to have a panel of black filmmakers present on a panel sharing information.

    FREE FOOD AND DRINK.

    We'll be recording for an episode for Louisville's Finest A Talent Showcase

  • Sharome Jordon | January 3, 2012 11:37 AMReply

    I am looking to start a org here in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill North Carolina area called Poverty Row Filmworks looking for filmmakers, performers, etc. in the area just email me @sharome@919entertainmentllc.com

  • Choz'n Penn | January 3, 2012 10:30 AMReply

    BLACK DIASPORA: An alternative Media design group in the Caribbean (specifically Trinidad). WE JUST WANT TO #7RT. We are yet an ESTABLISHED space but indeed we are a working with plans for magazines, a [con], plans to visit the NY comic con, SUNDANCE next year is also a priority target - Networking and branding, I always say is not that hard. We have too often intimidated ourselves into thinking that these things are corporate and only the practices of big money - My advice? OVER INDULGE! poetry, art, music, animation, dance and theatre: We wholefully believe that (art is art) and usually - its not solely in filmmaker circles that you find filmmakers! So, what are you interested in? TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK! you never know who is going to present you with that invitation - brag, gossip, critique, encourage (overindulge) - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO FILM FESTIVAL, ANIMAE CARIBE ANIMATION and NEW MEDIA FESTIVAL are the two more closely situated festivals. ;)

  • Charles Judson | January 3, 2012 12:58 AMReply

    In Atlanta there's the Peachtree Village International Film Festival, the Bronze Lens Film Festival, and the International Black Film Festival's to start. Then there's the FILMAtlanta meetup group and Get Connected. There's also Blueprint 4 Hollywood. The Women in Film and Television Atlanta (WIFTA) chapter (second oldest in the nation) has quite a bit of African American involvement in it's leadership.

    Most of the organizations I work with through the Atlanta Film Festival are very welcoming of folks of color. At the end of the day, if you can help the Georgia film industry be stronger, they'll back you all day long. And what unites most of us is the love the industry and the craft, not anything else.

    And, while I'm not a fan of Tyler Perry himself, his crew of folks are very inclusive and are always working on various projects and with different groups or through their own production companies. Same with Rainforest films (at least the Atlanta side).

    There's also a new young woman at Spelman involved with their new media initiatives, her name escapes me at the moment, who has been doing quite a bit. She's done some events through WIFTA.

    Whatever you do, keep networking. Going to just one meeting or group is not going to do it. And if you don't know how to Google to find a group or meeting, you're not going to get very far, and by extension, you're going to get the side eye from a lot of folks who work in the industry when you didn't take five seconds to do a basic keyword search.

  • C-DEEQ | January 11, 2012 8:36 AM

    I am based in atlanta. I am always looking to network. Feel free to get in contact with me. I am music video director and I do short films, Check out my website www.megaoutput.com. You can contact me day or night. Also Charles would to network with you. email me rapheal@megaoutput.com

  • Yemi Toure | January 6, 2012 6:22 AM

    thanks, Charles, for the shout-out. Yemi Toure, International Black Man Film Festival. see under that name on FB and on Web.

  • Charles Judson | January 3, 2012 1:01 AM

    I meant International Black Man Film Festival with Yemi Toure,0 who is the director.

  • Gina | January 2, 2012 10:41 PMReply

    In Austin, its the Central Texas African Americans in Film. I found the cast and crew for my first short through them. There is a Facebook group and an email list. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-Texas-African-Americans-In-Film/134592849913989

  • Sufia Giza Amenwahsu | January 2, 2012 10:34 PMReply

    We do Media Literacy programming using art as a teaching tool and produce a small independant Pan-African Film & Arts Festival, REEL Black Pix: Global Afrikan Film Series now going into its 4th year in Columbia, South Carolina. This year we created a new program to engage youth, The Oscar Micheaux PromisingYoung Filmmakers Competition for them to make a 2-5 minute film or music video on a cell phone. We kick off the festival with a FREE Filmmakers Forum and provide ongoing TA and support to area filmmakers & artists throughout the year. For details see: www.ReelBlackPix.com.

  • amir | January 2, 2012 8:22 PMReply

    Check out Chicago based The Cinema Culture http://cinemaculture.tumblr.com/ We program work from filmmakers all over, and act as a networking tool between filmmakers, programmers, and cinephiles alike.

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