I had the opportunity to see a film called “Make a Movie like Spike” at the 15th annual Urbanworld Film Festival this past September. Everything about this film is absolutely inspiring, from the plot about young Black men in Los Angeles documenting their last days before deploying to Afghanistan to the story of its creation by actor-turn-filmmaker, Jamil Smith. Whether you’re lucky enough to see this dynamic hit at a festival near you or just hear Smith himself speak so passionately about his love of film, you wanna go along for the ride. I even began to use one of the many gems of knowledge he stated at the festival luncheon as my own creative mantra —
“It’s God’s irony when it comes to film: the more personal we make it, the more universal it becomes.”
Lately, I’ve been repeating to anyone who will listen that the film game is changing at almost too fast a rate to document let alone break down/take notes. One area that emerging filmmakers can no longer afford to cry “I didn’t know” is audience building and funding. We hear it time and again but a film in the can is absolutely no good without an audience (of course, you can’t even get the thing finished without a whole lotta dollars too). So let’s break open that can and get personal!
“Make a Movie Like Spike” has some very interesting and relevant audience building strategies. While doing the traditional festival route, the film also hosts community and educational screenings. For example, the filmmakers brought the movie directly to its related audiences at the Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War National Convention last August, where over 300 military veterans came together for the annual anti-war event in Portland, Oregon. We’re talking about a debut docu-style NARRATIVE feature film featuring two Black male leads by a Black male actor/writer/director screening at a very important gathering of military men and women. How often does that happen? Has it ever happened?
Here’s a link that breaks it all down right now: www.gcglaw.com/resources/entertainment/nonprofit_film_financing.html
Imagine again, how many more opportunities there could be for our fiction films if we started thinking like documentaries. Say it with me, SOCIAL ISSUES meets PERSONAL STORIES (repeat daily). Docs have been doing this for years. And as they say, if ain’t broke…