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Kevin Grevioux Has A Theory On The Lack Of Black Sci-Fi Filmmakers (Second Time Around)

by Sergio
January 25, 2014 8:45 PM
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So O.K. his I Frankenstein film, which opened this weekend, won't break any box office records. They all can’t be winners. But considering the film is now out and that we have previously written about actor/ screenwriter/producer Kevin Grevioux several times on this site, including just a few days ago in a recent interview with him by Michael Dennis (HERE), I thought maybe it's time to take a second look at a piece I wrote about him back last fall.

There’s no need to tell you that there are many African Americans involved in the comic book field as writers, illustrators and just avid readers, but not enough in his point of view. Especially when it comes to black filmmakers of sci-fi films; and Grevioux said that believed he knew the reason why.

According to an interview he did with The Grio, Grevioux said that the lack of black people creating sci-fi projects, comes from a pragmatism facing the dreams of black youth… and depends on what fits within a frame of reference."

As he went on to elaborate: "When you’re white, your dreams go far and a lot of times that is because there are no encumbrances. The world is wide open to them in a way that isn’t open for us. So when their reality is taken care of, it’s like, ‘Okay well we can dream about this. We can do this. We can do that.’ For us, it’s a little different."

He went on to say: "It’s like how can you think about traveling to another solar system or alien life if you have a problem getting a job or eating on Earth. African-American dreams are more reality-based, and that’s why I think our films have to do with our daily environment more so than alien or science fiction environments."

He also added that: "A lot of science fiction is based upon your experience in terms of looking at the world differently. Thinking about it in more abstract ways, a lot of times that takes education."

O.K. I can see what he’s saying and definitely agree with him, but I think there’s a lot more to it than that, which goes back to that "box" I referred to which black filmmakers are put in.

I think peer pressure is also a huge burden to overcome. I don't need to tell you that, way too often, we allow our so-called friends, colleagues and even family members to tell us what we should or should not be doing, for fear of being shunned, ridiculed or, the greatest fear of all, accused of “not being black enough." Hell, I’ve been assured of that by commenters on this site.

The fact is that you can’t let people with closed-off minds dictate your life. They want you to live in their own closed-off, hermetically-sealed little world, and be strangled creatively and spiritually. Why should you limit what you want to do, for them, and be miserable the rest of your life? Follow your own path. If you love sci-fi or want to become a classical musician, or whatever, just do it and be happy.

Do you agree, or is what Grevioux said ridiculous in your opinion? Do you have anything to add?

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  • Andrew Finch | May 18, 2014 7:38 PMReply

    I agree with what he said. Most black people do feel and think that way. That is why it is hard to find black people willing to play those roles. You can not make them play those roles are make something they do not beleive in or willing to step out and do what makes them truely happy because of peer pressure . The arguement should not be base on jow much money them film will make it is about doing what you love and have passionate about. Money should not limit your goals and dreams.

  • Daryl | January 28, 2014 2:40 AMReply

    I'm going to end this convesation with this because by some of these comments it's some black people buying into that white hollywood narrative. You missing the whole point of what I'm saying if you got a track record of making a film franchise that made a ton or money or a hit movie that made a ton of money, it will be somebody out there that will invest in you to cash in. You pull your own card by saying it's a gamble to invest in black films, only a brainwashed black person believing in white supremacy or a racist white person would make a foolish comment like that. I believe in black investment and you don't. I don't make silly comments that black cast sci fi film can't make money. By the way Inside Man may of had a diverse cast but Miracle At St Anna had a mostly black cast and it didn't have any big stars in it, but he still got 45 million and that because of the sucess of Inside Man, it made 184 million worldwide, which is still a success, somebody with money was willing to invest in his next film. So just keep believing you are white people puppet that they can control your every movie and you can't do nothing without them.

  • Missing It? | January 28, 2014 4:05 AM

    "So far the only person to make a black cast sci fi film is Will Smith"

    Producers: Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment. Budget 130 Million. It flopped.

    " it's simply a matter of preference. If you look at the 100 yr history of Hollywood, what percentage of films are sci-fi? Not a lot. So why would AAs, who have less power, have equal number ? Doesn't even make sense."

    Daryl, nobody is saying your proposal can't happen, but the movie spending habits of both whites and blacks will support the opinion that it's a huge gamble to invest in a sci-fi film with a black director and black cast. Btw, Miracle at St Anna flopped at the box office and it was not a sci-fi film. Your figures are incorrect.

  • Daryl | January 27, 2014 2:26 PMReply

    One thing I constantly see in the comments about doing black sci fi films is the budgets, that's an excuse it has been a lot of great sci - fi films done on small budgets. My opinion it's more of black people believing the hype of what hollywood tells us we like and not making the sci -fi films, example notice both of Kevin Grevioux films there is white female lead in Underworld and a white male lead for I Frankenstein, but he is calling out the problem of blacks in sci -fi films but he doesn't believe it himself, to have a black lead in his stories. These black folks in hollywood are funny, they always taking about the problems but go and do the same thing white hollywood has been doing to black folks forever in films.

  • michele | January 29, 2014 8:30 PM

    PREACH DARYL! You are absolutely right

  • The Devil's In The Details | January 28, 2014 12:17 AM

    Daryl, using Spike as an example is not wise. Most of Spike's film with a black cast did horribly at the box office . Many lost money! Smart investors DO NOT gamble on black cast films.

    Other details: Your figures on Inside Man are grossly overstated. Not to mention the 250 million on dvd sales, vod and tv rights is waaaay out of bounds. Please submit evidence/facts to support your opinion. And stop with the hype routine because facts (of which you never produce) have proven you wrong. And btw, Inside Man featured a WHITE CAST and a black man, Denzel (a small detail you seem to be missing).

    But yes, it's true, some guy may (big maybe) reach-out to Grevioux but only a fool would believe there will not be strings attached that he has no control over. In short, in spite of his past he can not and will not submit a proposal that smart business money cannot refuse. He does not have it like that.

  • Daryl | January 27, 2014 11:38 PM

    Carl you have no clue what you are talking about. A guy that created a franchise that made a billion dollars can get some investors to back a sci - fi movie with a black lead because somebody with big money is going to take a chance to cash in. example hollywood fronted on Spike Lee after he made Inside Man, he went to foreign investors and got 45 million dollars for his film The Miracle of St Anna, the reason he was able to get this is because Inside Man made almost 400 million worldwide and probably another 250 million and counting on dvd sales, vod ,tv rights. Carl somebody with money is going to give a guy that made a billion dollar franchise some money because they going to take that chance they can cash in on one of his ideas and make a billion dollars. So Stop believing the hype he can't get nobody to back him, so that's why he got to cast white people in lead roles, hollywood is no longer the only player in town when it comes to financing films, somebody with money will take a chance on a guy like that with that money track record.

  • Carl | January 27, 2014 6:00 PM


    You have no clue to what you are talking about. Kevin doesn't run the studio, the studio gets last word on casting...or are you ignorant to that too? Jesus buy a damn clue will you! Phluckin crybaby!

    If it was up to colored folk like you, who do nothing but wait for black folk in the industry to save you, they would starve to death. Join us in reality please.

  • Daryl | January 27, 2014 5:55 PM

    Nydia that's an excuse you going to tell me the man that created the underworld franchise that has made hollywood a billion dollars and counting couldn't get investors to get a black sci fi film done, it could be big budget or small budget. The true is he went that route because he believes in the hollywood system that tells him a white lead in a sci - fi films is sucess and black lead is too muck of a risk for a sci -fi film to be sucessful. Stop giving these guy passes if they were really about change they would do things to get things done, it's simple as that.

  • Nydia | January 27, 2014 5:42 PM

    He doesn't have complete control in his projects. Sometimes thats the only way a project will get funded.

  • other song | January 27, 2014 5:00 PM

    "notice both of Kevin Grevioux films there is white female lead in Underworld and a white male lead for I Frankenstein, but he is calling out the problem of blacks in sci -fi films but he doesn't believe it himself, to have a black lead in his stories" LOL. true

  • Donella | January 27, 2014 11:53 AMReply

    Also, there has been Black participation in science fiction for a while now, including literature, comic books, graphic novels, and screenplays.

    Black writing in science fiction in other worlds and dimensions and realities is available and has been available for decades. We've made so many lists of Black writers in science fiction, its ridiculous to dismiss the lack of film realization as limited imagination. If ANY race dreamed that tomorrow must be better, another world must be better, etc, its Black people trapped by a limited reality.

    The WILL TO GREENLIGHT the film production of these dreams of other worlds and other times is another matter entirely and points to systematic exclusion, discrimination, and willful disregard.

    For instance, Octavia Butler's works--strong stuff since Samuel Delaney and Harlan Ellison were her mentors--have been under constant option since she wrote them. She collected the checks and never seemed to mind that they were produced.

    But I always wondered about that. Not one. Not even ONE has been produced for film or television. I submit that rather than a straight-forward option, Butler's works are held hostage.

  • Donella | January 27, 2014 11:18 AMReply

    I Frankenstein was horrible. Within the first few minutes, I thought, it's gonna be a long night.

    Within the first half-hour I was asleep. I woke up to a lot of banging and shouting onscreen. Fell asleep again. Woke up and this time, there was roaring and screaming.

    Woke up again to credits.

    The End.

  • Wow | January 27, 2014 3:50 PM

    Considering what theaters charge that was an expensive nap.

  • SamDonal | January 27, 2014 12:45 AMReply

    Note to Kevin....If you're a poor white person, there are plenty of encumbrances to achieving your dreams, like lack of money.

  • nic | January 26, 2014 11:04 PMReply

    There is scifi written by black people (I hate the term black scifi becuz its so confining) Grevioux himself is a testament to that the real question is why isn't there any scifi MOVIES with a majority or all black cast? And thats a question he has to answer working in the industry and having written a few scifi flicks (all white cast). So far the only person to make a black cast sci fi film is Will Smith. He also broke new ground with his son Jaden who is the FIRST black kid to star in a major hollywood scifi film. But look at what it took to make that less than the biggest most popular Black actor in the industry today. Meanwhile Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) was some unknown dude living in Canada shooting commercials and shorts, hooked up with Peter Jackson and now he's working on his 3rd big budget scifi flick. So the question is WHAT ARE THE ISSUES WITH PRODUCING A BLACK CAST SCIFI FILM? Why hasn't Hollywood produced any before Will Smith? Why the reluctance? There are many black scifi writers and books begging for big screen treatment but none on the slate at any of the studios. Theres no news of any of Octavia Butlers, Samuel R. Delany and many others whose works haven't been optioned. Why is that? I think Mr. Grevioux needs to speak on that.

  • dj | January 27, 2014 1:28 AM

    And have him say what? He is not the studio. They get last word on the cast. You blaming him for not running the studio? Get a new script. A new way not black complaint. You sound very naive.

  • Kyle Baker | January 26, 2014 9:41 PMReply

    There was a time when there were no Black basketball players. Don't worry about what other folks are doing. Do you

  • Clayton | January 26, 2014 10:00 PM


  • Clayton | January 26, 2014 9:18 PMReply

    He is right. I never really thought of it that way. But looking back, I see it for myself. I, for one, come from a background of limited means but I never kept myself inside a box. As a storyteller, I always dreamed big and beyond my limitations. It was an escape from my unflattering reality. I was a fan of all the sci-fi's, action-adventures and fantasies. The only filmmaker I knew as a child was Spielberg and Lucas. I didn't care for all that reality stuff. Today, I have more diverse taste, which includes the most subtle reality based indie films. But I never forgot the films that fired my imagination as a child growing up in Brooklyn, NY when it was a really scary place. I'm trying to find a way to tell all stories, everything from the fantasy-action/adventures to the small indie films about people just trying to deal with their day-to-days. What do I mean I'm trying? I'm doing it now, as I type this. Look at my latest film Grey Dawn (2014). Talk about a film that couldn't be more far removed from the reality I am familiar with, and yet I went out and told that story anyway. I've been accused of being a hack by idiotic ignorant people but that couldn't be more far from the truth, case in point: my first feature film Pro-Black Sheep. I'm just passionate about telling good stories about people, usually ordinary people, in extraordinary circumstances. Genre and race don't matter.

  • artbizzy | January 26, 2014 8:37 PMReply

    I disagree with the statement that 'when you are white, your dreams go far....' What does race have to do with the imagination? Absolutely nothing. It's a cynical perspective that unfortunately some of us have internalized. It is not true that people of any race who are born into wealth or acquire enough wealth in their lifetimes that they will just relax and decide to use their imaginations in wild, interesting ways that serve humanity. Some often let their imaginations atrophy in between sips of fine wine on their expensive yachts just as much as someone stressed out over money may veg out in front of hours of reality TV when they both could be writing that highly imaginative award-winning Sci-Fi screenplay. ‘Education’ or ones particular race and class is not some secret society that holds the keys to our imaginations as we are led to believe. A decent, even excellent education can certainly help spark the imagination, it can also dim the imagination we once had, depending on who is doing the 'educating' and why. Education, these days especially, is more often than not about assimilation. In terms of black science fiction there would be no science fiction without the contributions, belief systems, dreams and visions of the African Diaspora throughout recorded and unrecorded history. So don't believe the hype.

  • Kevin | July 13, 2014 9:54 PM

    Very well put!

  • Bondgirl | January 26, 2014 7:42 PMReply

    If it really boiled down to "a dream deferred" because of poverty/racism, why aren't other film industries doing sci-fi? Bollywood isn't encumbered by race (colorism definitely), so where are the Indian sci-fi films? Other than Will Smith's upcoming movie, M. Night Shamalyn (sp?) hasn't explored that genre either. What about Nollywood...why aren't they writing and making those films when race isn't a factor?

    Because everything we choose to do opposite whites doesn't always come down to restriction; it's simply a matter of preference. If you look at the 100 yr history of Hollywood, what percentage of films are sci-fi? Not a lot. So why would AAs, who have less power, have equal number ? Doesn't even make sense.

  • Doug | January 27, 2014 2:11 PM

    Actually Bollywood does have some SCI-FI and superhero movies out. I can name you RA-one,and robot. I can't think of the names of the other off the top of my head but they are out there.

  • onyx | January 26, 2014 4:53 PMReply

    I'm going to add to what Kevin Grevioux and also Sergio have stated. You're never too old to pursue and keep pursuing your dream. And these days, self-publishing and building an audience can help a budding filmmaker purchase much needed film equipment. If anyone's interested, brief scifi excerpts featuring diverse world building can be found here:

  • Daryl | January 26, 2014 2:49 PMReply

    He makes some good points but I think the real problem is black filmmakers get hoodwinked into not stepping out of the hollywood box of black films and telling other stories because they believe they hype that black people don't like sci - fi films or see themselves like that or the ones that don't believe in the hype can't get the investors or enough actors to support their vision to make the sci -fi films. I seen it happen too many times for a black filmmaker to make this happen he got to get a co -sign by a white person to tell a different black story to get the support, that's some bs we got to start investing in ourselves more and telling different stories and stop believing the hype.

  • Melody Cooper | January 26, 2014 2:33 PMReply

    I agree with some of the comments in the article, namely that lack of education can be a hindrance and so can peer pressure. I am a black female sci fi writer who just signed with a great literary agent who supports me in the genre and has gotten my work in front of the right people (including HBO and Kerry Washington). I consider my experience "different" than many black folks in that I grew up with an English teacher mom and a Science teacher dad, and we read hard science fiction in my house: Asimov, Pohl, Clarke. We were taught black history outside of the school's limited curriculum. We went camping every summer (!) and had a deep understanding of nature and its beauty. My brother went to Harvard and later worked as a writer for Marvel, and I went to a liberal arts college, Adelphi, to study theater, had a stage career and now write for stage, film and TV. Our imaginations were encouraged, "the multi universe is the limit." I am inspired by Octavia Butler and have always always believed that our history, stories and struggles and those of other minorities, create more interesting science fiction. My goal is to keep writing and taking meetings until black sci fi is just part of sci fi in general in every medium: books, comics, TV, film, even theater (don't see much sci fi there, and yes, I have a sci fi play under consideration!) To do this, the black sci fi movement needs to include WOMEN. I'll say it again: it needs to include women! AND our youth, all classes, gay, straight, etc. We must be inclusive to break through stereotypes that we set even for ourselves to embrace the fullness of all that we have to offer. Some of the best sci fi is not big budget (MOON, ANOTHER EARTH, MONSTERS, ATTACK THE BLOCK, PRIMER) but they have great stories, ideas, characters and vision. There's no reason why black sci fi can't bring that, and then some.

  • Chris Boykin | January 26, 2014 2:21 PMReply

    I agree with him in that there are obstacles, but, come on man, I know that already. There's always gonna be naysayers and a lack of resources and access, in any community. So what? Year after year, Oscar after Oscar, Golden Globe after Golden Globe, [insert award show here] it's the same damn story: no representation, no recognition. How can I still be so surprised that certain ethnic groups are marginalized and oftentimes have their work go unacknowledged in this business? I get it. So what? Does that mean I can't have a career in this business? Does that mean that I shouldn't even try to have one? Because if it doesn't mean that, what is the annual whine fest, or blog post, or op-ed piece about, really? Keeping the issue relevant? mean the issue that everybody in this business already knows and acknowledges? Cos, here's the deal: Grevioux's films may not do boffo box office, but he still makes enough dough to keep making 'em. They still make somebody money. He is the creator of the Underworld franchise and the unofficial poster manchild for the school of thought that says, 'of COURSE there's obstacles. So what?'

  • Elias | January 26, 2014 1:07 PMReply

    Most Sci-Fi movies are not low budget. It takes a truly staggering concept to do a successful low budget Sci- Fi. Mass audiences for Sci- Fi prefer spectacle to ideas. Plus, it's a genre that doesn't often deliver on the budget/returns ratio until years later - if the film becomes cult or classic. Also, a lot of true Sci-Fi concepts - as opposed to Fantasy - are purely intellectual concepts that serve literature and lack cinematic qualities. So, all-in-all it's a hard sell for investors and it's hard enough to make films anyway so I guess black filmmakers just naturally shy away from Sci-Fi because it's a tough genre.

  • Just Mark | January 26, 2014 9:46 AMReply

    I agree with Mr. Grevioux in some aspects but there are certainly many black sci fi writers who have made tremendous contributions to the genre such as Octavia Butler and the previously mentioned Samuel R. Delaney. As an aspiring film producer who seeks out films dealing with science fiction themes, I feel the key would be independent artists ( ie. directors, producers & writers) banding together to bring these stories to light.

  • audiodramatist | January 26, 2014 3:07 AMReply

    Harlem born, Bronx educated, writer, educator, Science Fiction Elder: Samuel R. Delaney
    Any of his books can be made into film, WEB series, Audio Drama, Stage Plays...whatever.

  • MALCOLMX | January 25, 2014 10:57 PMReply

    There are no lack of black sci-fi writers, or any black intellectual in any field. What there is is a hyper-preponderance and an hyper-aggressiveness to how far white people (and their many black minions) will go to down-play or sweep under the rug black science, intellectualism and achievements in any field. A gifted black science writer, will find it hard to achieve success in this environment, especially if they did not pay into the college money system. Big Banks are tied to Big Education, Big Education is tied to Big Foundations, which is tied to Big Grants, Big Grants are tied to Big Film Festivals, which will tell you what filmmakers should be on your radar. Don't be hoodwinked...

  • Donella | January 27, 2014 11:21 AM

    Malcom, I believe we just witnessed several examples of the hyper-aggressiveness you wrote about.

  • Chris Stevenson | January 27, 2014 6:54 AM

    Malcolm only broke it down economically, if you get mad at him your aiming at the wrong target. There are black sci-fi writers and plenty of intellectuals, a well-know shortcut is paying into the college system because of the obvious connections. But this opens the door to another can of worms, the lack of blacks with good HS grades who were admitted to college.

    Years ago I did a story on the University of Buffalo Law School as protesters marched in front of the late school president's home, back then UB had a visible problem with admitting African American males, they took Arab, Indian, even African, but not blacks from this country. Today not much has changed.

    The best route for blacks getting into sci-fi is to keep writing and get published, and look for ways to convert the story into a screenplay. Since blacks are now the nation's number one consumer ways have to be devised for us to invest in ourselves and each other... without fear of being labeled racist by racists.

  • Still Wrong | January 26, 2014 6:51 PM

    MalcolmX is a lame and POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK is a crybaby. Want some tissue? Spouting false bullshit and getting mad. stfu. thanks.

  • The Pot Calling The Kettle Black? | January 26, 2014 5:57 PM

    @ WrongTrollhunterCarl, you add no voice of wisdom nor insight to the conversations. You're like a blister. It shows up after the work is done. Yet, you have the nerve to call others "lames" and attention seeking whores, when in fact, it's your daily childish rants and name calling (interrupting grown folks having an intelligent conversation) that's the Modus Operandi of a true lame and attention seeking troll. Think about that the next time you feel compelled to berate Shadow & Act's readers. STOP (consider if what you're about to say is an informed voice of wisdom or child's play), listen and LOOK in the mirror. Look to see if that's the image of a pot on a mission to call the kettle black?

  • Wrong | January 26, 2014 3:22 PM

    Actually MalcolmX is full of shit. A troll and an attention seeking lame.

  • Right | January 26, 2014 8:02 AM

    @Gandhi (hater)...there is nothing stupid in what X wrote...if you can dispute one of the facts please do so...and stop naming your avatar after an old guy who slept naked with little kids

  • Gandhi | January 25, 2014 11:38 PM

    Please shut up. You sound stupid.

  • Demond | January 25, 2014 9:04 PMReply

    @Sergio Wow!! Reading This Article has Been an Eye Opening Experience for Me. (Especially as an Aspiring Filmmaker who just happens to be Black) Thank You for Sharing your Wisdom.

  • SEAN | January 28, 2014 3:26 AM

    Love the article, Im a Black Filmmaker and currently writing a sci-fi now with a Cuban lead and Black Co-star. I want to change it up by having new faces of color in this genre, and no Im not a racist, I love a lot of scifi films with White lead actors, but everyone has experienced something weird in their lives.

    Right now I am dealing with a strange world of people, and it seems to be a pattern of behavior. But anyway, would love to collaborate with any filmmaker for a project with this genre.

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