Out of a field of 163 applicants, National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), a Harlem-based media arts nonprofit, has selected 8 winners for its new incubator program, NBPC 360. The new funding initiative is designed to identify innovative storytellers and to generate quality serial, digital and multiplatform content for television and the Web. The selected projects entered a 6-week boot camp on Monday, where they will work with veteran producers in their bid to win development funds of between $50,000 and $150,000 for their series pilots.
“The overwhelming response to NBPC 360 demonstrates two things: first, that there’s truly no shortage of topics and stories centering on the Black experience, and second, there’s a funding gap in the early development of such projects, a gap that NBPC 360 can fill,” said NBPC Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz. “We look forward to bringing these diverse programs and their talented storytellers to a broader audience.”
The eight projects chosen, as decided by a panel of industry experts, include:
“Black Broadway on U: A Transmedia Project” by Shellee Haynesworth, a web series
Before there was the Harlem Renaissance, there was the D.C. Renaissance, taking place along Washington, DC’s U Street/Shaw community corridor—eventually known as the “Black Broadway” era. From the early 1900 to late 1950s, this culturally vibrant Black Washington corridor was America’s “Black Mecca,” where Black-owned businesses and a highly educated middle class thrived in a “city within a city.”
“CHRONICLE: The Other Walter White” (Season One) by Shukree Tilghman, a web series
In the summer of 1919, the bloodiest in American racial history, a field worker of the NAACP infiltrated the darkest corners of the American South to investigate the murders of hundreds of innocent African-Americans. The Other Walter White is the story of the man who undertook this mission, at great risk to himself, by passing as a white man in order to seek justice, and whose success marked the beginning of the end of Jim Crow.
“The Life’s Essentials” Docu-Series by Muta’Ali Muhammad, a TV series
The Life’s Essentials Docu-Series features intimate one-on-one interviews where celebrities and everyday Americans engage in powerful, heart-felt conversations with family members in a question and answer format. Designed to showcase the emotional journey of the process as well as lessons learned, the series entertains and inspires audiences to engage in their own intergenerational family conversations.
My Africa Is a documentary series tapping into the dynamic and diverse stories of African youth culture, offering a balanced view of Africa.
“The Newark Project: Safe Passage” by Ouida Washington, a TV series
The Newark Project: Safe Passage (Part 1) tells the story of six young people growing up in one of America’s toughest cities: Newark, NJ. As the city struggles with one of the most controversial education reform endeavors in its history, the future of its children is at stake, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“Pixie Dust” by Damon Colquhoun, a Web series
Pixie Dust follows a teenage girl whose mentally ill mother stops taking her medication. It’s a real-life issue that becomes injected with the fantastical, when the girl discovers a family secret that gives her both the power to see the psychological beast that lies beneath her mother’s skin and to quell that beast.
“POPS” by Garland McLaurin, a Web series
From TV pundits to the President of the United States, African-American men are consistently excoriated for failing to be active in their children’s lives. POPS is a humorous, enlightening and engaging exploration of fatherhood as experienced by three African-American men facing the toughest challenge of their lives—becoming good fathers.
“Street Cred” by Sultan Sharrief, a TV series
Everyone has seen the crazy headlines about Detroit, but rarely do we see the potential and power of our youth. Street Cred challenges Detroit High School students to learn entertainment producing skills and compete for a chance at a dream internship. Each episode the students get a different challenge: pitching, marketing, budgeting, etc. The youth must prove their potential not only to the industry judges, but also to themselves.
These projects now enter the incubator phase, a residency that consists of a boot camp, pairing with a mentor and 6 weeks of intense, hands-on training and preparation for the pitch and pilot phases of the program. The activities will culminate with Pitch Black, an interactive session where they will pitch their projects in front of a live audience to a high-profile panel of public media and industry executives, distribution and production companies, and public television stations interested in hosting a project while in pilot development. Teams will be evaluated on their market/audience research, technical and artistic merits, relevance, team capacity and suitability to the broadcast venue. Three teams will be selected for an award of between $50,000 and $150,000 to cover production costs for a pilot of their show.
With help from an assigned executive producer and/or a producing station, winning teams will produce their pilots over the next 4 to 5 months. Together with NBPC, they will then pursue broadcast and distribution opportunities for the programs.
NBPC 360 partners include WNET (lead station), WTTW, WYES, KQED, WGBH/World, American Public Television, National Minority Consortia, SCETV, BritDoc, POV, ITVS, IFP Made in New York, Tribeca Film Institute, NYC Media and Silicon Harlem.
Since 1979, NBPC has been bringing visionary stories about the rich global Black experience to public television. With the rise of the Internet, the group went on to become a trailblazer in the digital space, providing training, mentorship, funding and distribution for new digital, multiplatform work.