Last week SAGIndie National Director Darrien Gipson, AFI Fest Director Jacqueline Lyanga, and Blackhouse Foundation Chair Brickson Diamond hosted an intimate event to unite influential black filmmakers, festival programmers, studio executives, agents, managers, and others in a way that will hopefully get more movies made.
Dubbed the Black Hollywood Collaborative, the gathering included attendees from Sundance, FOX, AMC Independent, Generate, Hollywood Black Film Festival, New Wave Entertainment, Jigsaw Global, Warner Bros. and more, and extended beyond a networking opportunity to become a sort of “think tank” on forming a working black cinema collective. Each of the attendees had a chance to explain their work and their needs within the industry, and there was also a brainstorming session on how black Hollywood professionals can best support each other.
Regarding what sparked the idea for the Collaborative, Gipson pointed to fragmentation among people of color working in different areas of the business:
“When we were all coming up, you knew every person of color who worked at every company. We would see each other at every event, every film premiere, every party. We don’t have that connection anymore.”
Diamond added, “There’s so much space in Hollywood and not so much connectivity between black folks. So we’re trying to create an opportunity to close some of the gaps and bring us together in a way that gets us somewhere. The three of us are planting a seed and hoping that the fruits of that will be born in this group, but that even outside of this group, others will realize they can get people together and connect and support each other.”
As for the challenges they hope to solve: “Filmmakers know each other, but they need to know people who are in distribution and multi-platform marketing – that’s the important part of what they need," said Gipson. "We’re bringing in all aspects so that any one individual knows how to get to a manager, or an agent, or get some distribution help. The fact is that power in this industry is nothing more than the ability to get a phone call answered. And so that’s the power we’re harnessing here – the ability to call someone directly and get the info that you need or the connection that you need or have someone look at your project.”
There's been an increasing amount of talk lately about how black filmmakers can ban together and develop their own sources of marketing, distribution, and legal support. So here’s hoping the Black Hollywood Collaborative can help create that space.
The organizers see this as only the beginning of a more consistent and cohesive effort to collectivize black Hollywood.