Monday, October 6, 2014

What I've Learned From Making My Being Is Bond

Working on my short film My Being Is Bond, I have learned a lot throughout the filmmaking process. There have been highs and lows, but many more high points. I’ve met many talented and dedicated people whom have made unknown sacrifices to complete the film. I have much appreciation for every one that played a part and coming together to get the film made. I was pleasantly surprised to see that so many people wanted to work hard and put forth the effort to make my creative vision possible.

My Being Is Bond is a film that attempts to capture the essence of the east side of Columbus, Ohio and tell a story that many can identify with and uses music by local talent.

The first thing I learned is that you need a team. Some things you just can't do by yourself, or if so, it will be much more difficult. I had a small team, but we did what we had to do to get the job done. The people in my crew were Marvin Ekpenyong, Nella Mitchell, and La Ronday Martin. There were more people involved as well. Each role they played was pivotal in getting this movie made.

I especially want to thank Matthew Swift and Nicolette Swift and The Ohio State University Film Studies Program for providing me with invaluable advice and tips along the way. I couldn't have completed this film as quickly as I did if it wasn't for their help.

Second, you've got to find actors that are passionate and dedicated to the craft. It's easy to see who has a love for what they're doing and those who don't. It was great working with local and out-of-state talent.

Once you get the actors, you've got to start shooting. Time is valuable and time is money. Your time and theirs. You can't afford to waste it because you never know what situation might arise and you'll need to make contingency plans. Before you know it, you'll have more footage than you initially intended to capture. A word to the wise is never delete anything during a production and even after a production is done, you never know what you might be able to use one day.

I've got to give a big shout-out to all of the actors in the film from the lead characters to the extras. They made the film possible and look authentic.

Some of the last steps include editing your film to tell a story, deciding what you want to do with the film, and promoting it. There are many ways to do this and it can prove challenging for some.

The main thing in the whole filmmaking process is to enjoy what you're doing and have fun. Everybody that was a part of it from the beginning and stuck through it to the end had fun and enjoyed the experience.

There is so much talent in Columbus, Ohio but there are very few resources and outlets available for people to express and exhibit their creativity. Without these established outlets in place that encourages creativity from all kinds of people from Columbus, more and more people from the city are going to look to move and go elsewhere to express their creative and artistic ability where they can thrive and succeed instead of doing so locally.

I think being a leader, self-starter, motivated, and a team-player, are some of the qualities that make an urban professional. I look forward to what the future holds in store.

Promotional backdrop made by Duarte.

If you would like to buy a digital version of My Being Is Bond and contribute and support independent film in Columbus, you can click the link below:

Blu-ray and DVD copies of My Being Is Bond are available as well.

Thank you to everybody that showed support.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Urban Professional's Dream Realized

DeAnna Davidson is more than an urban professional; she is president and chief executive officer of her own company- Tracen Technologies. As the head of her company, she knows what it takes to run a successful operation that has been going strong for over a decade now. I think it is important for people interested in becoming entrepreneurs to study examples of good business leaders and analyze how they achieved their success. DeAnna Davidson is a good case study for any aspiring entrepreneur to look at. She, through years of schooling and relevant job experiences, established a business that was truly a passion of hers.

Davidson’s love for what she does began when she was a teenager about to enter high school. This is the around the time when she discovered the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Attending the school she gained the knowledge necessary to lead her to a career where she run her own business that specializes in information and software technology.

Her passion for technology and all of its capabilities is similar to mine. I want to be in a position like hers sometime in the near future where I will love coming to work and overseeing a large media company just like her. The steps that she has taken have been a life-long journey. Taking classes that pertained to her desired field and working a job where she gained experience are all steps that I am trying take in order to reach my dreams.

I know through faith, hard work, a vision, and persistence, that I will continue to climb the ladder to success and when times look bleak and tough, I can look at DeAnna Davidson as a role-model who has hasn’t gave up and achieved their goals, providing me with the courage to keep on striving to do the best I can. What’s your passion in life and how are you working to build on it?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Inspiration Never Gets Old

The pursuit of happiness is a journey that we are all striving for. Sadly, however, many people never reach this journeys ultimate destination. One case of a person that has truly lived the pursuit of happiness and reached that destination is that of Christopher Gardner. In fact, his journey has been so remarkable that it has been made into a Hollywood movie. You might be familiar with it. It’s called The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. Gardner was determined to “make it”, both for his young son and himself.

Though bitter at first, the journey eventually became sweeter as things started looking up and Gardner could pursue his dream of one day becoming a Wall Street broker. After a chance encounter with an individual, he learned of his profession and set out to get the proper training so that he could succeed in the business world.

Life on the streets is a harsh reality and Chris Gardner dealt with it the best way he could. There were times when he wasn’t sure where the money needed for food would come from and where he and his son would sleep for the night. Things got so bad for him that he had to spend some time in jail because he did not have the money to pay for the outstanding parking violations that he acquired. Even if all of this wasn’t bad enough, his wife left him and their young child when they needed her most. I can only imagine how he must have felt dealing with this kind of uncertainty. Through it all he persevered and kept his head held high.

As life would have it for Christopher Gardner, the same place where he and his son would sleep some nights, he would wind up overseeing the numerous bond offerings for them through his company Gardner Rich & Co. No longer homeless, Gardner now enjoys the finer things in life while still where he came from and appreciative for the position that he is in now. Hearing stories like this about urban professionals never gets tiring for me because it provides constant inspiration so that I can attain what I aspire to achieve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Few and Far Between

On the big screen, African American actors and actresses in prominent roles are few and far between. I remember the many movies of the 1990’s that featured a great deal of African American actors in a variety of roles. As an urban professional I would like to work in the entertainment industry so that I can help put actors in a position that is respectable and also influential to other minorities.

Sheril Antonio of writes a reflective piece on the state of ‘Black’ or ‘African American’ cinema. She notes that in recent years, the Oscar’s that African American actors have won have been for roles that are less desirable or not as glamorous than others. The characters in these movies typically have traits that are viewed as “nostalgic”.  Roles like the ones played by Halle Berry in Monsters Ball, Denzel Washington in Training Day, Mo’Nique in Precious, and Octavia Spencer in The Help, are ones that African Americans would generally like not to be associated with.

Spike Lee, one of the most prominent and well-known directors in Hollywood, agrees. He said, “Where are the people of color? That’s what it comes down to. How many people, when they have those meetings and vote on what movies get made, how many people of color are in those meetings,” displaying his frustration at the lack of diversity in Hollywood. I find his statement to be particularly telling of the reality because Spike Lee was the director of many films in the 1990’s that I saw that featured a lot of actors of color. Now, a lot of those same actors that were in his films before, it seems, are not involved in any other film projects that have mainstream distribution. I have noticed, however, that a lot of well-known actors have been starring in independent features. This just shows that even though their work isn’t as mainstream as it once was, their love for the arts is still as strong as ever.

Nollywood: Africa's Hollywood

Urban professionals can be found anywhere in the world. Africa may soon be adding to that list. The film industry in Nigeria, known as Nollywood, is the third largest in the world after Hollywood in the United States and Bollywood in India. Aspiring filmmakers have a much less difficult time getting their work to viewing audiences in Nollywood compared to Hollywood because there are not as many rules and regulations in place that were established by the government.

With this being the case filmmakers are hoping to bank on American actors to be a part of their productions so that they will simultaneously bring exposure to the film industry in Nigeria and also introduce them to American audiences. Some big name movie stars have already been featured in Nollywood films like Mickey Rourke, Kim Bassinger, and Jeffrey Wright. Popular Black actresses Nia Long and Vivica A. Fox have also been in Nollywood produced films. A lot of the filmmakers there look to the example that American Tyler Perry has set with model for making movies. The movies are produced at a low price and reap the benefits greatly, sometimes earning at least ten times what it cost to make the production.

Black filmmakers may want to consider Nollywood as a viable option for them to produce their products because the film industry there has a wide distribution reach that includes the entire African continent, the Caribbean, and the United States as well. The topics or themes that are prevalent in African cinema are ones that are common to the people of the region like issues of religion, romance, hardships, and political corruption.

As with most things in life, with the benefits come the negatives. Since the film industry in Nollywood is still developing, there are some major issues that filmmakers might have to contend with like power outages and a lack of skilled and equipped people that can handle certain film equipment. Still, these problems do not deter determined filmmakers from completing their projects and making them available to the public. Nollywood just might be the perfect place for urban professionals in the film industry to make an impact.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Starting Over

Sometimes, people find their calling in life later than others. For Kalyn Johnson, this happens to be the case. Kalyn Johnson is an urban professional that became an entrepreneur at a time in life when many people are already established in their careers. Being successful but not completely satisfied with her job in the legal profession, Johnson decided to pursue something that she truly had the passion and energy to do. This new career would lead her to the fashion industry where her talent for fashion can excel and be recognized. Unlike her previous career in law where she had more than ten years of experience, this new foray into the world of fashion was something quite different than she had been accustomed to. However, in time, Kalyn Johnson became proficient and successful in this industry as well.
She had timing on her side as well when she chose to enter in to a new business as she did it just before the recession hit that we are still dealing with today.

It is good to hear of success stories like that of Kalyn Johnson today when oftentimes all we seem to hear is the failures and hardships people face as a result of the staggering economy. I applaud Mrs. Johnson for her dedication and perseverance in times of adversity when it has become so easy to give up and quit what people enjoy doing because of the economic reality. I think we can all learn a thing or two about finding out what it is that really love to do and making it not just a hobby or interest of ours but an occupation and a dream job. Urban professionals are people young and old, and are steadfast in their pursuit to be the best at what they do. Kalyn Johnson is an example of this. Her work has been recognized for its excellence, as she has done some work for CNN and other clients.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ali Rey Talks About Negotiation

Ali Rey is a young woman that owns her own video production company called Ali Rey Productions. The company specializes in motion graphics and post-editing. I interviewed her because she is experienced in the industry and is doing some of the same things that I hope to one day pursue.

Before she can ever do any work for a client, she negotiates with them the details and terms of the work that will be performed. After the negotiation process is through, she drafts up the final contract so everything is clearly stated and understood. Ever the urban professional, Ali Rey writes the contracts herself liking “to look at other contracts sometimes to make sure no useful clauses are being left out”. In the contracts that Ali Rey drafts, she always includes the price, whether or not she will be paid royalties, and some type of liability protection for the company. Also included in the contract, the client must agree to let her use any of the work that she does in any portfolio that she wants, including her website

I asked her if she can use any content on her website as objective criteria in the negotiating process? She responded “There is a special promotional that I offer to certain music artists if they show interest. This is where I work with artists who don’t have a huge budget and I do some promotion for them, in exchange for marketing opportunities instead of paying me any up front money. What they get is the opportunity to get exposure, and set themselves apart with better media than other independent artist for free at first. But I make them sign a contract that allows Ali Rey Productions to get a large percentage of what they make down the line. So the objective criteria would be the initial free production work”. Her website also allows her clients to view her work and request information. “The negotiating comes once I speak with them. The website lets the client know what to expect, and I can refer to the material on my website when giving examples of what I offer. But everyone has specific needs, and usually what needs to be negotiated are the prices and they are not posted on my website at this time.” Ali Rey is truly a woman that knows what she is doing.

Being in the entertainment business has allowed Ali Rey to learn a thing or two about the negotiation process. She never lets people use intimidation against her as a tactic in the negotiation process. If she feels that it’s not worth her time to continue negotiating then it’s just not worth her time and the negotiating ceases. Asked about some of the problems negotiating and how do you separate the person from the problem, Ali Rey said, “I just focus on my ultimate goal, which is getting hired. I try to see what the person or business wants, maybe something they are not saying, and persuade them with whatever is most important to them”. She goes on to note “If a client becomes too frustrating before any contracts are signed I will sometimes decide not to work with them”.  However, Ali Rey seeks mutual benefit in all of her deals and negotiations. She wants everybody to win in every deal that she does. “Everybody winning would include the client being charged a fair price,” says Ali Rey, “my company being paid, and the product to be good quality. This is what I hope for in every deal”.

With her passion, effort, and talent, I am sure that we will be hearing much more of her in the future and this is just the beginning for Ali Rey.