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Will NFL Football Players Become The New Saviors Of The Black Film Industry?

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by Cynthia Reid
December 19, 2011 4:01 PM
7 Comments
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NFL logo pic 22

One problem that seems to consistently plague black filmmakers, both industry veterans and newbies alike, is finding financial investors for their creative endeavours.  Of course, this issue isn't exclusive to black filmmakers but when you consider the inherent struggle and bias encountered when making a "black" film, the odds against them are stacked in a more profound way.  So reading that the NFL has initiated a new NFL Pro Hollywood Boot Camp intending to educate players on the film industry was music to my ears!

The camp, which runs from April 2-5 at California's Universal Studios, will give an overview in various categories such as screenwriting, directing, producing and film financing. 

Industry veterans John Singleton, Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory, among others, will be session teachers.

Although the concept of athletes becoming film producers and/or directors isn't new, it seems to be growing.  If you've been reading S&A consistently, you've had a chance to read the daily film journals on this blog of former football player-turned-director Matthew Cherry who's just completed his first feature Last Fall, a film being produced by another football star...Ellis Hobbs.

It's worth noting the boot camp was initiated and is being run by Film Life Inc., the film production company helmed by American Black Film Festival creator and CEO Jeff Friday along with NFL Player Engagement, a division assisting players in preparing for their post-football careers.   

Back in 2010, Friday started the Pro-Hollywood Initiative in an effort to inform athletes, who attended the film festival, about the industry.  He told Amber Mag:

"About ten years ago we started to get a lot of interest from athletes who wanted to attend the Festival. It was more from a social aspect as the primary entertainment career path they were interested in was the music industry. Back then they just wanted to  come to parties. But for the last three or four years, we noticed the NFL and NBA players sitting in the workshops and asking questions about meeting film makers.  Our athletes  are really interesting; they retire young and are worth millions of dollars so they are seeking a second career path. We came up with the name Pro-Hollywood, where we’ve invited professional athletes to come down this year and they will go to the Master Classes and they will get a private class and meeting with John Singleton and Spike Lee and it all makes sense to put these two worlds together to further the industry." 

Hopefully, strides will be made with black films in the same way some rappers and musicians, such as  Jay-Z and Sean "Puffy" Combs, have found success branching out in other industries outside of what they're known for.

So what do you think?  Will athletes become the new black film moguls?

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7 Comments

  • Lawrence Sneed | February 2, 2012 3:42 PMReply

    There is a great chance now for Black Film to explode!

  • Quentin | December 23, 2011 1:31 AMReply

    Good reporting, Cynthia.

  • Jug | December 20, 2011 1:30 PMReply

    Hate to be the fly in the ointment, but what kinds of contracts are these projects going to be? Are they going to be union? Are they going to be filmed in right to work states? Sure you'll have a gang of people who want to "work" but, I think a lot of people forget or don't know that people make movies to support their families. It's a JOB, not just Art or a one-off gig. So yes, pro athletes could be a hidden treasure trove of funding, but how does that play in practical terms for actors, make-up people, costuming, lighting, crew etc to be able to not only work on a consistent basis but work at a living wage. It's not enough to just "make a movie", you have to create a viable infrastructure for people to be able to support themselves doing this.

  • Jmac | December 19, 2011 8:24 PMReply

    As long as they strictly finance movies but don't stick their fingers into the creative control pie.

  • Idol-Maker | December 19, 2011 8:03 PMReply

    I think it's long overdue. A win-win for both sides, hopefully helping these cats hold on to some o' that $ they earn. Friday should get the same sort of program going for the NBA asap, and maybe expand the camp to hold networking events with athletes & black film school students + working writers/directors.

    Steer some o' these guys towards developing cable networks or supporting the existing ones.

  • L.A. Proper | December 19, 2011 7:29 PMReply

    This is an interesting development. My feature, "L.A. Proper" (http://youtu.be/kzpR7-HQZ78), received some funding from an African-American NFL player who requested to remain anonymous. I'll be sure to pass this on to him.

    You can check out the award-winning comedy here: http://youtu.be/kzpR7-HQZ78

  • Duncan Manutz | December 19, 2011 4:33 PMReply

    Team Sizzle aka Terrell Suggs is doing a great job...
    Team Sizzle Worldwide is an independent film company located in Baltimore, Maryland. We are determined to focus on exceptional high-quality films that are entertaining and provocative in thought. At Team Sizzle Worldwide we love to entertain and films are our passion...
    http://www.teamsizzleworldwide.com/

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