Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

She’s too easy

In Communication, Griot, Movies, Networking, News, Self Improvement on July 31, 2013 at 9:52 am

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So easily she has yielded us comedy and dramedy –  alas Octavia Spencer gets serious with us in her matriarch role as Oscar Grant’s mother.

I first became a hard core fan of Octavia Spencer when I saw her work in Half Way Home (Comedy Central series – 2007). Her serious facial expressions juxtaposed perfectly with the comedic situations that her character Serenity Jones faced on a daily being in a Half Way Home with other half way people.  Good stuff.  Though when I saw her in The Help and then recently in Fruitvale Station I experienced in reel time Octavia’s flexible acting range. She’s too easy. I just know her former directors have used those very words  [She’s too easy]  as Ms. Spencer shifts from role to role, seamlessly and naturally. Wether to make us laugh or to weep for the present and past — she does it easy.

“The Oscar winner says no more maid roles and goes indie,” reports Ebony Magazine in an recent interview with Ms. Spencer. Adrienne Samuels Gibbs divvies the goods:

Every year it seems, an Academy Award winner signs on to a little-known project that inevitably winds up rocking the movie world. This year’s independent film-turned-industry darling is the quietly powerful-yet-tragic Fruitvale Station, the true story of Oscar Grant, a young Black man killed by a transit cop on New Year’s Day at a San Francisco BART station.

Octavia Spencer signed on to the project (to portray Grant’s mother) because she was hooked once she read the script. “I didn’t read it [at first], I just looked at an attachment showing [footage] of what people had on their cell phones of Oscar being shot,” says Spencer, who took the Academy by storm in 2011’s The Help. “I told my agent, ‘I don’t know that I could play this part. All I could offer is anger.’ Then he said, ‘Read the script.'”

And the rest is history now that Fruitvale Station is in theaters and has snagged both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at this years Sundance Film Festival. Oscar is portrayed by Michael B. Jordan (Red Tails and Friday Night LIghts) and Kevin Durand (Robin Hood and 3:10 to Yuma) stands in as an extremely convincing cop. It’s the kind of moive that will tick you off, make you cry and then make you want to leave the theater and do something–anything–to improve race relations.

Octavia SAYS

“I found out Ryan Coolger [the writer and director] was a young African-American man,” says Spencer. “He didn’t come from a place of anger. It really touched me. If this in any way starts the discussion that needs to happen, then great. If it saves a young man’s life or starts a discourse on how we treat on another, then that’s great.”

Despite the film’s independent nature, it was an easy role to take in a Hollywood woefully devoid of fully realized roles that could feature Black women. Like other actors of color, Spencer laments the lack of complicated characters and the assumption, despite her Oscar win, that she’ll play more maids from here on out.

“I’ve been offered six maid roles since then,” she says, referring to her role as Minnie in The Help . “Let me tell you, if it’s not a better [role] than the one that made me an Oscar winner, don’t bring it to me.”

[Ref. source: Ebony Magazine – August 2013]

I’m going to have to ‘AMEN’ Octavia on that last note. It’s definitely good to be paid,
and there’s no reason to bring back in season,  black women being casted as maids.

Keep the past in the shade and let us move on to be script range winners.
Kerry Washington didn’t score her SCANDAL adore – because of a history of playing the beginner.

I applaud Ms. Octavia Spencer for being bold in the demand of her relation,
I’m Qui
Bidding a wiser Hump Day to thee – go out and see Fruitvale Station.

The Fruitvale Station situation

In Communication, Griot, Movies, Networking, News, Self Improvement on July 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm
fruitvale-station-Oscar Grant & Tatiana

No movie spoilers in this write-up

Well, it wasn’t a feel-good movie.

I did not go into it thinking that it would be, but I definitely didn’t expect the audience to have been as sensitive as I am. I’m a cryer. If there’s pain to be felt in the movie, I’m feeling it. If there’s happiness in the movie – I’m giddy. If there’s a death in a movie… especially of a young black male, for no justified reason, and is a true story…. I’m affected maternally and on a sibling level.

This movie pre-dates the death of Trayvon Martin, and somehow it is the same situation. How is this? I was certainly hoping Trayvon’s case was a mishap. A bad moment. You know? Who wants to have to accept that there’s at least one Trayvon killing every week in any given neighborhood. And that’s at the very least.  These senseless kilings have been going on forever, claiming the lives of Emit Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Oscar Grant, and so on and so on and so on? Too many names to list, but you get the gist. In America it seems totally okay to shoot and kill unarmed black men.

This is not okay people. This is not okay.

Black people haven’t been harping on the sadness of each individual situation, because somehow we had found a way to isolate our own unjustified neighborhood deaths into a single  and solitary incident. The pain is usually so much to bear that when you find out that another unarmed black man has been killed,  we immediately opt to tone down the rhetoric in hopes that we can heal a little bit faster. But that route is getting old. In fact, that route has gotten so old, that it died.

In the wake of Trayvon’s death and George Zimmerman being found not guilty after he admitted to shooting an unarmed 17-year old, we can not sit idle and heal in silence,  but must trudge through the pain as we press forward for legislative change.

It looks like no one truly cares about the lives of young black men — but their mothers.

How very inconsiderate and sad America.

I, personally, will get in anyone’s butt behind hurting a white, black, latino, asian, russian, german, scandanavian or chinese child,  (to name a few). It’s my parental instinct.  xoxoxox

This is not the day of “rioting in Watts.”
Irresponsible replies in our culture had to stop.

With Trayvon Martin’s parents requesting that we law change
they’ve set forth a bill in their slain sons name.

I know many of my white friends and fam would like blacks to let it go,
but we can’t do such a thing and risk losing another black child – yo.

If we pipe down on peaceful protests it’s certain the gun will go off again
and a jury of someone else’s peers will fail to justify the end.

The average black family doesn’t have big money to lace a dream team defense
so we’re all about prevention – pushing legislation to amend.

The prosecution is usually the one who ends up handling the case
when a law like stand your ground puts a victimized family in that place.

The DOJ divvies a score card that the jury must check on one accord.
And often times the victims family fall twice on the injustice sword.

Wether white or black, hispanic or other 
Losing a child is far too vile for any father or mother.

For any sister or brother – injustice hurts like hell
and in the end there’s no good side of this story to tell.

God bless the men that get off, after serving months for taking a life.
You’ll get what you gave. Forever living in paranoid strife.

Precisely why The Martin family and other violated families aren’t rioting the streets.
They know ‘vengance is the Lords’ and such knowledge yields them peace.

Just knowing as much – frees them up, to focus without hesitation
on healing and reeling back bad laws and legislation.

You’ll never know the pain of, until you walk in a victims shoes.
Yield yourself via empathy – life is a pick and choose.

Don’t relate to the pain and stand alone when you’re in need.
You’re a farmer of life – a sewer of particular seeds.

Don’t nourish fruitless weeds. You know very well what is right.
I’m Qui
Loving on thee irregardless of the pain in  the film Friday night.

FRUITVALE STATION situation isn’t unique but meeting Oscar Grant was new to me.
Please put into life what you want to get out of it – Karma regurgitates your history.

Here’s a column with an awesome review of Fruitvale Station – [*Spoiler Alert*]:

Independent vs. Studio – “Don’t Be Tricked”

In Book, Communication, Movies, Networking, News, Technology on July 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

Before embarking on your filmmaking journey, ask yourself, “Am I a producer-filmmaker or am I a producer-dealmaker?” There’s a difference.

The Producer-dealmaker is exotic.  He puts together mega-million-dollar deals, hires people with large salaries, and makes big-budget studio features.  On the other hand, the producer-filmmaker gets a script , moves the decimal point two spaces to the left on a studio budget, purchases some unexposed film stock, gets some friends, and makes a low-budget film.

This book (From Reel to Deal) focuses on the producer-filmmaker approach used by people like John Sayles, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Kevin Smith, and Robert Rodriguez, who’ve launched amazing careers. But first I’ll address the producer-dealmaker approach, if only to acquaint you with the seduction of the big-dollar studio deals that almost always lead to a dead-end.

Qui Films_Independent Benefit


Studio Production_Caveat
The producer-dealmaker approach has glamour, is expensive to play and is fraught with dangling golden carrots. And, 999 times out of 1000, the beginner who pursues these carrots gets tied up in a costly web of prepayments, pay-or-play checks, and attorney fees that he can’t afford, and gets detoured from the goal of making his first film.

A classic dealmaking “golden carrot” is:  You’ve pitched your project to either a foreign sales company or theatrical distributor for funding, and they state, “We’re in for half the budget.” They’re lying. If a company ever gives you “50 percent of the budget” line when pitching, respond, “Wonderful!” Let’s cut the budget in half and start shooting tomorrow.”  Now, watch how they wiggle.  What they’re really saying is, if you can raise the first half (used for the physical production), then their contract (non cash) will finance the marketing and promotion (after they see the finished project), guaranteeing them first position on recouping funds, and the ability to cancel the deal if the film funds, and the ability to cancel the deal if the film you make doesn’t meet their standards.

Another “golden carrot” is, “We’re in if you can get a name attached.” Sounds simple. All you have to do is get an actor with a credit or two to give you a “letter of intent” showing interest and you’ll secure financing. The point, however, is that anyone can get a letter from an actor declaring that he/she is interested. Every actor is interested in every single part as long as he/she gets paid. So what? That letter, which is not contract is absolute garbage in Hollywood.

What you want is a “firm commitment,” a contract from an actor that states he/she will set aside X number of days, 4 to 12 months from now, to be in your film and will work nowhere else in the world during those days for which he is to be paid Y salary. The salary will be large, and the actor, through his agent, wants a 30-50 percent deposit of it up front. If you want to shop an actor’s name, you have to pay for that privilege. Otherwise, you’re pissing in the wind; no distributor or foreign buyer, will give a hoot about your “interested stars.” They want guarantees (aka firm commitments). And guarantees cost money.

To get this guarantee in writing is called a “pay-to-play” agreement…

First make a film, then make a deal.

The problem with filmmakers who never make a film, is they spend their entire lives trying to make a deal. Hollywood doesn’t finance first-timer nobodies. Here’s the bottom line.

Want $20,000,000? Make a $2,000,000 feature.
Want $2,000,000? Make a $200,000 feature.
Want $200,000? Make a $20,000 feature.
Want $20,000? Make a $2,000 Web feature.

This is how Hollywood works. It’s not complicated.

So where are you going to start? At the most, only 1 percent of the people reading this book are rich enough to gamble $200,000-$500,000 to shoot their first (35mm three-week shoot) feature. The other 99 percent probably had a hard time parting with the money to buy this book. Then you’ll be shooting a $20,000-$50,000 feature for the Web.

Therefore, start from the bottom. Be a producer-filmmaker. Prove your talents. Forget about being a producer-dealmaker. Stop chasing the deal — just make the film, and if the film you made is great, you’ll make a deal. But your first film must be great. Good is not good enough. Only great will launch your career. And since you won’t have money for name actors, exotic locations, stunts, and special effects, you will find yourself being totally story dependent. Thus, to succeed as a producer-filmmaker you will, on your first film, be totally script dependent and must prepare by first reading at least 20-30 screenplays of successful movies that you’ve seen. Don’t read these 20-30 scripts and you are guaranteed to fail.

[Reference Source: Reel To Deal by: Dov S-S Simens]

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