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?