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Shadow & Act Black Filmmakers To Watch: Jackie J. Stone

by Tambay A. Obenson
October 25, 2012 11:59 AM
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From 'If I Leap'
From 'If I Leap'

First... rehashing changes I previously noted about the annual Shadow & Act Black Filmmakers To Watch series in the announcement I posted about 4 weeks ago, if only for those who missed it to catch up (you can skip the next 2 paragraphs, if you've already read them).

- Say goodbye to the once-every-12-months list of 10 to 20 filmmakers, and say hello to what will be an ongoing series, profiling black filmmakers who we feel deserve individual spotlights. Each week, we're introduced to the works of black filmmakers (and we're considering the entire diaspora, not just black American filmmakers) that impress us enough, suggesting the idea that something continuous, throughout the year, makes more sense, than publishing a single list annualy. We want to highlight as many filmmakers as we can, especially in this climate that sees only a handful of *black films* every year that enjoy anything close to broad awareness; and also, in part, to combat the notion that there isn't enough variety in what stories we can tell, and how we choose to tell them. I think we get so distracted and depressed about what we don't have, that we tend to forget to appreciate those who are toiling away in creative silence/obscurity. And I realize it's best to show who/what else is out there that we don't already know about en masse, or that we do know about, but, for one reason or another, aren't paying as much attention to, as we probably should.

- Second, unlike previous years, our emphasis will be on relatively *unknown* filmmakers; our goal is to highlight those filmmakers who are producing work (whether still in film school, making short films, or veterans who've been making films for years, and everything between), but just haven't quite yet been *discovered* if you will (of course that's a loaded word, because it could mean any number of things, to any number of people; but instead of listing specific criteria, I'll just let the posts speak for themselves); essentially, filmmakers we believe are creating interesting work, who haven't received much attention, and who we believe you all should definitely know about (if you don't already). There's a reason why I've repeatedly requested that filmmakers we haven't covered, contact us, and introduce yourselves and your work; it's so that we can get to know you, and your work, for this purpose (and others). I continue to encourage that STRONGLY! As I've said before, we try to stay as connected and informed as we can; however, we don't know of every single black filmmaker and every single black film in circulation, every year. We rely on you folks to assist in providing some of that knowledge as well.

So now that you know all that... here's the 4th of many filmmakers who will be featured in this new S&A Black Filmmakers To Watch format (thus far, Canadian writer/director Alfons AdetuyiBritish/Zambian filmmaker Rungano Nyoni, and African American director Russ Parr have been profiled in the last few weeks).

Jackie J. Stone
Jackie J. Stone

This week it's someone that I think many of you will already be familiar with - Jackie J. Stone (photo left).

Given your reactions to her award-winning 20-minute short film, If I Leap, which we posted last year, I'd say that many of you were likely more than curious to see what the NYU alum, would do next.

Featuring the talents of names you should be familiar with - Adepero Oduye (Pariah), Anslem Richardson (Five Deep BreathsThe Locksmith), and cinematographer extraordinaire Bradford Young (PariahRestless CityMiddle Of Nowhere) - If I Leap was an especially picturesque, moving, stand-out short film that deserved all the accolades it received, and a year later, we wait with bated breath for some kind of a follow-up - not to that film specifically, but just another glimpse of the scope of Ms Stone's imagination.

She relocated to Los Angeles, and has since been on a writing spree, with work aimed at all the platforms: TV, film, web, notably. Although it is a rough-and-tumble business, and Hollywood has demonstrated that it really isn't all that interested in stories that center around the lives of young black women, as is the case in If I Leap.

But maybe a recent boost, as in being recently selected as a participant for the 2012 Film Independent Project Involve Forum (Film Independent’s signature diversity program, dedicated to increasing diversity in the film industry by cultivating the careers of under-represented filmmakers) might assist in some way.

The program, which runs from October 2012 through June 2013, selects filmmakers from diverse backgrounds and filmmaking tracks. For 9 months, the Fellows are paired one-on-one with a mentor from the film industry, assigned to a team to make a short film incorporating a given theme, and attend monthly filmmaking workshops and other educational seminars.

It's a program that past filmmakers we've written about went through (who then graduated to make feature films, win acclaim in some cases, and carve out careers for themselves).

Opting to keep a tight lid on her projects, Jackie continues to write, and write, and write (a feature film, a web series, and more), and I'd say that it's only a matter of time before we are thrilled with another piece of art from this up-and-coming talent.

If you missed our post on If I Leap, and haven't yet seen the film, it's embedded below, so watch it in full now.


Zipporah, a sister in a religious order, is dealing with a secret about her desire for something she has never experienced -- erotic love. When Luca, the nephew of the Mother Superior, seeks refuge at the convent after deserting the army, Zipporah engages in an intimate relationship with him that will change the course of her life.

Watch the lush 20-minute short film below:

IF I LEAP from J.J Stone on Vimeo.

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  • Dankwa Brooks | 'Nother Brother Entertainment | November 2, 2012 12:52 PMReply

    I loved the seriously sensuous film the first time I saw it and got nothing but good reaction from it since I embedded it on the NBE blog. I wish Ms. Stone the best of luck with her future endeavors. She is a talent!

  • c | November 2, 2012 11:46 AMReply

    very good cinematography ...the piece had a movie quality about it unlike a lot of short films you see.

  • LeonRaymond | October 27, 2012 7:29 PMReply

    Sign me up for the I am filmmaker with Crush on Ms. Stone line too!! and just to put it down to progress and anything we can do to support. I have a project I wrote and am producing being funded by the producer of Mini -Major and Studio films. Just look me up on IMDB.COM
    LeonRaymond Mitchell-THE CROP DUSTER'S DIARY. You will also see me under credits for a short film I wrote titled "A TORTURED LIFE"

  • LeonRaymond | October 27, 2012 7:24 PMReply

    Ah hem, uh Great Job Ms. Stone -i loved it the first time it was played, and Tambay, please keep on doing you, we need the back and forth , the debate, the tug of war, and the reaching and pulling apart to grow as filmmakers, I may agree with Black folk 1 out of 298 times but we need to be able to be free minded to have a collective, to have Narrow Casting as artist. That's your damn god given right. Now back to Ms. Stone I love her work and want more more more!!!

  • WeWatchingU | October 26, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    I dont' know about this Tambay guy, I think he and this blog is an attempt from his white masters to regulate black cinema, no offense to the filmmakers mentioned, but being associated with Ivy League Universites like Columbia & NYU, and groups like AFI, IFP, Sundance and others really don't have an outlying interest in a black filmmakers economical growth, as these organizations usually end up with all of the money and blacks are still suffering from a lack of adequate representation in Hollywood as seen by films like (The Help, Beast of the Southern Wild, Precious & The Butler) I say lets boycott Tambay and this blog, nothing from white corporate interests benefits blacks, including the title of the blog, Shadow and Act as if to say we belong in the shadows.
    Please Tambay, your skirt will be pulled up pretty soon and a true black cinematic revolution wouldn't be televised (or in this case, mentioned by Indiewire and it's white supremacist hollywood affiliates.)

  • sergio | October 27, 2012 7:18 PM

    And oh yes, if Wwwatchingu knew antything about black culture then he or she would have known that the title Shadow and Act come from the title of an essay review that Ralph Ellison wrote about the film version of Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust (and which also later became the title of a collection of his political essays) in which he examined black male stereotypes in films and the media.

  • Carl | October 27, 2012 6:34 PM

    LOL! Bitter hacks who claim to be filmmakers speaking "for black folk" are funny! Get some kleenex and cry somewhere else. Great job Ms. Stone!

  • sergio | October 27, 2012 4:03 PM

    No doubt someone whose crummy short film shot with a cell phone we rejected to post something about on the site

  • Priss | October 27, 2012 2:53 PM

    Aghast at the absurdity of this comment. These boards are toxic. I've been trying to ween myself off. One comes for the black film info. One gets bitten by the ignorance in the comments (except from a few sane ones). Tearing down this blog and it's editor personally and tearing down film-makers personally isn't "constructive critique." It's a handful of losers who hide behind the Internet to spit poison. Shame on you. Signing off. Hopefully for good.

  • hmmm | October 26, 2012 8:00 PM

    NYU is not an Ivy League school.

  • Nadine | October 26, 2012 3:07 PM

    Boycott thinking and standards? Sure. Have fun. Maybe we should boycott Def Jam and Lil' Reese, instead... just a thought. Boycotting Tambay... not so much... I love how you drop institutions of learning as negatives... Do we not know the origin of "Shadow and Act" and "conscious thought" either? Just... can you rethink your statement as you work your way through the eons of pages on this site? What you said actually does not make any sense given the focus of your ire. No sense at all.

  • JMac | October 26, 2012 2:39 PM

    This has got to be a joke. If it isn't, just say no.

  • Nadia | October 26, 2012 2:30 PM


  • WheeltoLive | October 25, 2012 9:44 PMReply

    Great short film. Very moving, powerful and haunting. I read an article recently about young girls deciding to join the order. This is timely and so interesting in a day where it is easy just to join the masses. I love the originality and the voice in this film. Thank you. I heard about this film through the Gary International Black Film Festival.

  • ms.stone | October 25, 2012 10:52 PM

    Thanks for watching! I truly appreciate it.

  • Rod Gailes OBC | October 25, 2012 6:42 PMReply

    J.J. Stone & my extended crush on her and her film, "If I Leap," continues to grow! Her visual sense and boldness will serve us all well when she breaks out on the larger scene. I cannot wait to see what she comes with next!

  • ms.stone | October 25, 2012 10:53 PM

    I love you, Rod! You are amazing.

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