By Curtis Caesar John | Shadow and Act February 14, 2013 at 10:18AM
Playing at the 3rd annual New Voices in Black Cinema Friday February 15th at 1:30pm along with Fred Kuwornu’s 18 Ius Soli (previously featured on Shadow and Act) is Beale Street Blues, a short controversial documentary about struggling African-American Blues artists on Beale Street in Memphis, TN. The second film from film director Kecia J. Benson, it examines the life of several blues historians on Beale Street and reveals an up-close interaction with some of Memphis’ finest including: Memphis Gold, Earl the Pearl, Sonny Mack, John MoBlues, Mz. Zeno, Carl Drew, Rudy Williams, and Big Jerry in their day-to-day struggle as an “ole blues artist”.
A young filmmaker originally from Yonkers, NY, Kecia Benson’s journey started during high school when she was introduced to the local television studio in Yonkers, NY and her interest continued through her undergraduate studies at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC. Post graduation, Kecia worked at FOX Charlotte News Station and The Charlotte Post but within a year she decided to move to New York to pursue a career as a filmmaking. After various internships, Kecia landed her first freelancing gig on actress/director Azariah Gunn’s feature debut Spare Change. She was soon introduced to guerrilla-style filmmaking after meeting her mentor Michael “Boogie” Pinckney, Spike Lee’s Assistant Director and went to work with profound directors like Spike Lee, Tim Story, Charles Stone III and with shows like “Sesame Street Workshop”, “BET Apollo Live”, “Gossip Girl”, HBO “Da Brick”, Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer” and many more.
In 2010 Kecia debuted her first short film Unidentified a suspenseful thriller about a mysterious man trying to redefine himself through someone else life; Unidentified was feature in 2011 at the Reel Sisters of Diaspora Film Festival, and in 2012 started her owned film production company, Enigma Filmworks in Brooklyn, NY.
We caught up with her to find out more about this enterprising young filmmaker.
What made you want to become a director?
Initially I wanted to work in the camera department, but after shadowing and gaining production experience under Spike Lee, Michael “Boogie” Pinckney, Tim Story and others, I desired to be a part of the creative process. I began writing scripts and shortly after directed my 1st short film “Unidentified”.
Which character or interviewee in your film was the most difficult for you to bring to the screen?
“Beale Street Blues” follows several “real life” blues musicians, from Memphis, Tn. None of them having much film or television experience, proving quite difficult to get them to ignore the camera in the room.
What are your favorite films – the ones that inspire you to do what you do?
Honestly…Poetic Justice, Boyz in the Hood, The Color Purple, Underworld, Blade, Spawn, and the list can keep going. I wish I could combine Poetic Justice and Underworld!
Is there a passion project that you can share with us that you’d love to get off of the ground?
I’ve been developing my 1st feature script for the past 3 years! I would love to get it on the market for financing by spring 2014. “Kenya’s Eyes” is a mysterious film based on a true story about a young girl’s distinct journey through middle school while dealing with mental and physical abuse amongst her family and friends.
Who would you love to work with that you haven’t?
Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese, Tyler Perry, Lars Von Tiers
What’s next for you?
I’m currently producing several independent projects and perusing my 1st feature film.