I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you follow the smartest folks in the room, Twitter is a fantastic resource for keeping tabs on your respective industry.
This morning I came across powerful call to action on my daily browse of my timeline. NYC-based indie filmmaker Tahir Jetter. His blog post “Please, Stop Complaining About Black Movies and Hollywood and Actually Support, Mobilize or Make Some Shit (If You’re Not Doing So, Already) A Very Open Letter” regarding the continued unrest felt by the Black community at the way Hollywood treats us (Zoe Saldana cast as Nina Simone in unauthorized biopic, Spike Lee getting replaced by Tate Taylor for his own James Brown bipoic) struck a chord with me even from my cell phone screen.
I was of course weary about the title. I’ve read too many blog posts addressing this very topic, only replacing the word “Black” with the countless other minority groups ignored by the mainstream film industry. If you’re going to tackle such an issue, I think it resonates so much more with people if you’re willing to bring some solutions to the table as well as shining a spotlight on the problem.
Back in May with the whole “no women at Cannes” debate, I got so frustrated because all anyone did was focus on the problem of male-dominated festivals not picking female films for their competition lineup. Call me crazy, but what good did that really do? In a piece dubbed “The Chosen Ones:” Thought about the lack of female directors at Cannes”, I offered up the idea that progress in the film industry for any ignored group comes down to a balance of nature and nurture.
When it comes to understanding nature, Hollywood is a business, period. What makes money will reign. Once you figure that out, push up your sleeves and get to work on what you actually have the power to affect. That’s the nurture part. Jetter asks plain and simple: if you’re not happy with what you see the suits doing and you’re not supporting the indies with your dollars or creating your own content, what are you really doing?? He points out the numerous stellar independent films featuring Black stories currently in theaters and on the festival circuit like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD and MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. I even tweeted back that if you can’t see these movies in your city, check the web for VOD/DVD/Redbox/Netflix release dates.
One of my favorite pieces of advice came to mind while reading Jetter’s post:
Don’t complain. Maybe venting makes you feel better, but letting off steam can also lull you into maintaining the status quo. Unfortunately, the status quo is pissing you off, which is why you’re whining in the first place. If you’re frustrated, turn that energy toward fixing your problems, not bitching about them.
Developing and supporting our own images is one of the most powerful tools we have to even the scales against the ones we do not like. What are you waiting for?