Last night, the Hollywood Black Collaborative (HBC) hosted an
informative panel discussion on the distribution methods of black independent
films. Moderated by SAGIndie National Director Darrien Michelle Gipson, the panel
included filmmakers Charles Murray (Things Never Said), Matthew Cherry (The
Last Fall), Marta Cunningham (Valentine Road), Sheldon Candis (LUV), and Effie
T. Brown, who produced the recent Sundance hit Dear White People.
Panelists discussed the various funding models for their
films, highlighting the roles of personal investment and working with investors
and influencers. They also shared the importance of staying active and involved
when working with a distributor to ensure the best life for one’s film.
Filmmaker Sheldon Candis said the journey to finding
distribution pushes filmmakers to ask the question, “Who are you?” in relation
to their story, film, and motivations for making it. It ultimately brings their
mission into focus. Other topics included television rights and the success of this
type of distribution in the African American community, with the example of
Cherry’s film The Last Fall, which saw
good reception on BET, with Image Entertainment.
The conversation took an interesting turn when an attendee
commented on the need for black American films in African countries, where
there are audiences who want to see the films. Some expressed that while there
is a need for black films in these countries, a better infrastructure has to be
in place to capitalize on it. Several
perspectives on ways to strengthen and build relationships between
these groups, were offered. Throughout the night, attendees also asked questions, and contributed their thoughts on the different topics.
Founded in 2012 by Darrien Gipson, AFI Fest Director Jacqueline
Lyanga and Blackhouse Foundation founder Brickson Diamond, The Hollywood Black Collaborative serves as a unifying force for black people working in different
areas of the film industry. Its 2012 inaugural event brought together a range of black filmmakers and film professionals from FOX, Generate, Sundance, Hollywood Black Film Festival, New Wave Entertainment, AMC Independent, Jigsaw Global, and Warner Bros. to build opportunities for increased networking and collaboration.