As a filmmaker myself (in years past) I suppose I can understand why filmmakers tend to be secretive about their projects – especially while still in some stage of production.
The reasons may not necessarily be universal, and are instead individual to each filmmaker; but the problem with this is that it makes our work here difficult. Not that you should be completely transparent during your process (although we certainly won’t stop you if you so choose). Consider it all part of your marketing strategy.
Reading non-race specific film sites (like one of our sister sites, The Playlist, for example), your Caucasian indie filmmaker contemporaries tend to be more willing to share as they go – a photo here, a piece of promo art there, a poster, a clip, a trailer, an interview, an on-set visit to report from, even just an announcement of what you’re writing currently, etc, etc, etc.
And what those teases (strategically spread out over a period of time) inspire, is fanboy/girl excitement over what might be coming when your film is eventually, completely done, and ready for exhibition – excitement that keeps your fanboys and girls engaged and interested; and by the time you’re ready to show what you’ve spent the previous year (or however long your production took) working on, there’s already enough of an awareness, and just as importantly, an anticipation for what you have to exhibit.
I’d like to create (or at least entertain) a similar atmosphere within what we call indepent black cinema. Of course there are always those few detractors (can’t please everyone), but those who love your past work (whether shorts or features), or those who are curious, will most certainly appreciate being teased. And that excitement can be contagious, spreading to those who are indifferent, and maybe even win over those disparaging types.
So keep your fanboys and girls happy.
I recall after debut films by the likes of Darren Aronofsky, Harmony Korine and David Gordon Green were released, and very well received; they were crowned with what I’d call Artiste reputations, and rabid fanboys and fangirls of each would salivate at every single piece of news that was reported on each of them, or projects they were working on, no matter how seemingly insignificant. I’d like us to encourage and maintain a similar kind of euphoria and thrill for indie black filmmakers especially.
In a related conversation with one filmmaker, I was told that indie black filmmakers (black talents, really) aren’t necessarily used to being covered this closely and thoroughly, given that they have long been mostly ignored by mainstream websites; except those who make a big enough splash. And even then, awareness via coverage on mainstream sites isn’t necessarily guaranteed – certainly not the kind of near-rabid coverage you’re get on a site like Shadow And Act; in addition, your audience may not even read those mainstream sites, which doesn’t at all help in creating this fanboy/girl culture I’m talking about.
But the point this filmmaker was making to me was that because black filmmakers aren’t necessarily used to this kind of close and continuous coverage, especially at this level (we may not be Deadline, but our numbers are healthy), there’s an adjustment that has to take place, and trust that needs to be built.
You tell me.
So how do we create this fanboy/girl culture within indie black cinema – filmmakers, audiences, press, etc? Some of that lies with the audience, surely, and some of it lies with us as well certainly (the writers who cover the filmmakers and their films); and there will be other parts in this series. However, starting with this post, we can begin by sharing more – specifically, filmmakers keeping us (the writers) informed, so that we in turn can inform our readers, ensuring that they are continuously aware and engaged, leading up to your film’s eventual debut.
It’s a win-win isn’t it?
After all, this is where your audience is.
I hope all of this makes sense.
Part 2 later…
For now, your thoughts?