In April of this year, two young black men walked in to a Starbucks in Philadelphia for a meeting with a colleague and shortly thereafter, without precedence or provocation, were unjustly removed from the premises by police officers.
In response to the unjust, racially biased encounter, Starbucks responded by scheduling a (voluntary) national (half-day) training day against biases for all of its stores’ employees in May of 2018. As part of that training day, Stanley Nelson and Firelight Media, in collaboration with a consortium of partners including the NAACP, was commissioned to produce a documentary short film.
And in that, I’m appreciative to have worked alongside a majority female-identifying, POC production crew as Production Manager (and lowkey, AP with research, story, et al duties) in a whirlwind 15 days to create a piece of work that was used in a day of baby steps in racial discourse.
From the video’s landing page:
Firelight has documented the African American experience through film for over 15 years. That experience includes stories of personal and collective heroism, as well as interpersonal and systemic discrimination.
We recognize that this partnership with Starbucks is a chance to elevate a national conversation and bring awareness to the trauma that many Americans, including myself and our staff, experience on a daily basis.
We made this film so that we can understand this important struggle in our country, and we can go forward together. Let’s continue the conversation.
As with all productions that have multiple chefs in the editorial kitchen, much of the initial production did wind up on the cutting room floor however we I am grateful to Starbucks for giving us lots of free reign to develop a project that we believed would be a strong starting point for an incredibly uncomfortable conversation.
I’m excited (and delayed) to announce that I am producing my first feature film!
After an auspicious meeting over classic rock, funk, and late-night barbeque’d meats at a mutual friend’s Memorial Day function, Director James Evans asked me to join him and Amy Gaipa, one of the film’s producers, for a casual follow-up conversation.
A week later, maybe twenty minutes into our chat, I was 100% on board as a producer and the film’s production manager. Super excited to be working with this team to help make James’ first feature film come to life!
The film entitled Bait & Tackle is “a dark comedy feature about Katherine, an aging widow suffering from hallucinations, who confronts her ability to love when her estranged family comes back to town.” Using elements of magical realism, biting sarcasm, and the support of James’ hometown of Mastic Beach, Long Island, our team is super excited to make this production a reality.
Completely honored to help bring to life a screening of one my absolute favorite (Prince) films: Under the Cherry Moon! It’s an ego-driven, aesthetic masterpiece, terrible acting and all, that does not get the respect in the Prince canon (or film history, overall) that it deserves. With the Comedy of Errors Summer we experienced, the event was rescheduled not once but twice, premiering with our eventual star-studded line-up.
Nevertheless, purple family from all over convened on World Cafe Live in Philadelphia to celebrate the screening of this classic, complete with brunch menu and cocktails, not one but two DJ sets from Questlove, and a live taping of his Pandora podcast, QLS (Questlove Supreme) with special guest and co-star of Under the Cherry Moon, Jerome Benton.
Check out an article I wrote for The Root in celebration of the piece in advance of the screening.
In addition providing assistant producer support for the event, I work with Cali Green (screen/play creator and producer) as Director of Content. Which I means I get to create dope, creative content for a live event series celebrating classic films with memorable soundtracks.
Forthcoming secret bonus media I shot & edited coming soon, featuring exclusive content from the very generous Questlove.
In advance of the screening at World Cafe Live in Philly, I was asked to do a write-up with our press partner, The Root. So honored I get to flex my writing chops and my purple muscles. Now all I need is a copy editor because who proofreads their writing for a major publication themselves? Clearly not me…
From the article:
A little purple mathematics for you: On April 21 of 2016, planet Earth lost a magical, musical unicorn in what can only be explained as the rapture of a singular genius—one who left us 40-plus years of (released) music by which to remember him. On July 29, 2018, the purple family with gather to honor the legendary Purple One in Philly at World Cafe Live for the fourth edition of Screen/Play.
Created and produced by Cali Green, the Screen/Play series celebrates classic films with memorable soundtracks. What better way to celebrate Prince than to screen a classic directed by the man himself—Under the Cherry Moon? Hosted by Jay Smooth, the brunch event will feature the film followed by an exclusive video letter from Questlove—a renowned Prince expert and bandleader of the Legendary Roots Crew. We’ll finish the afternoon with a Parade-inspired DJ set, musical performances, a raffle, libations and surprises from Questlove’s vault. For the uninitiated, here are a few tips to prepare you for the screening of Under the Cherry Moon.
To note, this article was published during our first iterations of the event and does not reflect the final line-up that is the Sept. 2nd activation.
I am incredibly fortunate to have worked on an episode for the NPR/WBGO collaboration, Jazz Night in America, a radio program hosted by Christian McBride. Working with Allison over the 7 month production was such a pleasure not only because she’s an incredible musician but also for her perfect sense of humor. Major bonus? She’s a prince fan. (I know it’s true because her favorite P album is Around the World in a Day and nobody cites that album first, unless you’re truly out here living this purple life.)
The radio episode and the accompanying NPR video profile talks about her distinctive style of melodic drumming, her experiences as a woman in the contemporary jazz world, massive collaborations with major artists like Natalie Merchant and others, as well as selects from her live performance at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (at Jazz at Lincoln Center), featuring her band Boom Tic Boom and the album, Otis Was a Polar Bear.
You can listen to the full program streaming online, here.
(Producer, writer, and field recording/interviews)
Absolutely without a doubt, Samora Pinderhughes is a star. Incredibly talented pianist and songwriter, highly cerebral, and dedicated to the liberation of all free peoples, it’s hard not to jump on board immediately when you get a call to collaborate with him on a project.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Initially slated as a concert video shoot, the production quickly (and rightfully) evolved into a political call to action, much like his multi-media live performances, demanding we listen to the un-heard voices of marginalized POC and to do something about it.
The video feautred a live performance of the song MOMENTUM, pt 2 from his solo debut, The Transformations Suite at the National Sawdust in Williamsburg, alongside featured performances from Jasminn Johnson, Brandon Hall, Jules Latimer, Jeremie Harris, Ashley August, Brandon Bain, and Amber Pickens. I am incredibly honored to have worked with Samora in this small capacity.
In Samora’s words:
ART MUST REFLECT LIFE.
These questions must be asked: Who owns the banks? Who owns the prisons, and who are its occupants? Why do some have billions while most struggle to survive? We can’t sit idly by while some profit off of the pain of others.. while gates both visible and invisible separate the wealthy from the hungry.. when the consequences of these barriers result in everything from flooded homes to broken dreams to beaten bodies. When death is a cost we have grown accustomed to bearing, we cannot compromise in our pursuit of justice. We cannot retreat in the face of inequity. We cannot ignore the patterns of brutality. In this spirit, The Transformations Suite condemns the current state of power, racism and inequality in America, and searches for a new way forward. We are fighting for nothing less than our liberation. We will NOT be silenced.
Watch below for the full video of MOMENTUM, pt 2.
Co-directed with Samora Pinderhughes and Cinematographer. released, 2018.
Many moons ago, I had the distinct pleasure of producing, shooting, and editing a documentary for a dear friend and extraordinary musician, Isaac Sinclair. We attended high school together but lost touch as folks from high school do, only to cross paths nearly a decade later in our professional, creative careers. (aka we were at a show of another creative friend, bumped into one another, talked shop, and made a thing together).
We collaborated on the video for his first single, Down that Road, from what was then his forthcoming debut solo album, Gentleman’s Day; release date – my birthday, August 18, 2017.
During that time, we were also plugging away at a documentary to be released alongside the album featuring his tremendous collaborators from the debut record, his amazing mother, and his other major musical collaboration – rock/fusion band, TAUK.
Check out the dapper style, insane songwriting and drumming expertise, and musical journey of Isaac Sinclair in FUNKumentary, below.
Facing global climate change and the resulting environmental disaster, humanity endeavors to colonize other planets and preserve the future of human-kind. Denise is selected to join the ‘New Gaia’ colonies but her family does not have the same fortune. Denise is now faced with a life-or-death decision: remain on Earth and see out her last days with her family or join the mission alone and help secure the future of humans.
Inspired by writings from Sekou Sundiata’s only published book of poetry, Free!, break/Free! explores love, romance, creativity, and politics through our human pursuit of what we believe is freedom, in the hopes that we aren’t crushed by our journey in the process. Originally commissioned to screen at the Lincoln Center Atrium as part of the 2013 tribute to Sekou Sundiata.
Dave takes a dark tumble down the rabbit hole in the laundromat, following a bad break-up with his girlfriend.
Written, shot, and edited in 24 hours during the NY Film Racing marathon filmmaking competition. Participants are challenged to create a short film with this year’s theme, the number one; prop: the number one; and action: listening to music.
One of three short films I was commissioned to create for a Gil Scott-Heron tribute concert with performances by the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra, Brian Jackson, Vernon Reid, Nona Hendryx, Gordon Voidwell, and other amazing artists at Symphony Space.
Undergraduate thesis film.
Director. Cinematography. Editor.
Best of 400 Level/Advanced, CSI student film festival (2008)
Screening, 2008 Staten Island Film Festival (SIFF)
Finalist @ the NY Emerging Filmmakers Program at IFP (NY, 2008)
Best Documentary Short semi-finalist in the Angelus Student Film Festival (LA, 2008)
Screened and permanently archived at the San Sebastian International Film Festival/Film School (Spain, 2008)
In honor of his legacy as a genius and pioneer of his art, Prince &… is a variety show featuring sketch, stand-up, improv, storytelling, short video, music, and more. Participating artists/Prince fam create original art inspired by the legend who encourages us all to set our minds free.
I met my co-conspirator quite auspiciously as we were both on a pilgrimage of sorts to Minneapolis to see The Revolution play live at First Avenue. Ana traveled to Minnie with a friend from the NY comedy scene, who also happens to be good friends with a friend of mine, who remotely set us up on a friend-blind-date. Kismet. We vowed to hang out and relive all the details of a surreal three days of living in Prince-land upon returning to NY and so a few weeks and a good, boozy brunch later, Prince &… was born.
Having a residency at The PIT Loft where we essentially let free to do whatever we want resulted in a ‘Tipper Gore’ burlesque dancer, a set by DJ Spinna, a sketch written by Donwill of Tanya Morgan ft. Quelle Chris, running trivia games and prizes, live portrait painting on stage, and video appearances by Troy Gua and St. Paul Peterson from Prince’s band, The Family, among the other madness we were able to concoct on a monthly basis.
Produced and hosted by Chinisha Scott and Ana Defillo.
Logo graphic design. Cinematography & editing.
Keeping the spirit of the word “griot” alive, The Griot Show is a bi-monthly storytelling show featuring black comedians, musicians, artists, poets, educators, and elders from around NYC. Hosted by Alexis Lambright, artists have the opportunity to share stories from the black experience, often with a comedic turn and if they’re a griot worth their salt, a healthy amount of music.
I’ve had the honor of performing at the Griot Show twice since its inception. In my first show, among the amazing storytellers was one of the last living Tuskegee Airmen, (the late) Mr. Dabney Montgomery. In the second run, which happened to be on my birthday this year, I was swindled into performing alongside some real pros including Tim Barnes (It’s All True!) and Joanna Briley. Massive fun and only slightly demoralizing being sandwiched between those two amazing storytellers.
I also am pretty handy with the Photoshop and designed the logo for the show.
The host of The Griot Show is the incredibly talented (and ridiculously brave) Alexis Lambright – a great writer and improv performer with hilarious, dry humor and a great sense of comedic timing. She has performed on some of the strongest and longest running Magnet teams in her tenure and has built an awesome portfolio of her own including her one woman show, The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity. The show parodies telethons, seamless pulling together storytelling from a fake memoir, short videos including man-on-the-street interviews and music videos, live musical performance, a real call-in number, and background dancers. Yes, I kid you not. I was one of them. I also had the pleasure of creating the digital elements and shooting the video components for a hilarious show that went on to play at both the NYC and Hollywood Fringe Festivals.
I have the distinct pleasure to call multi-media visual artist Michael Paul Britto a colleague, collaborator, and a friend. He is always up to something amazing, re-contextualizing pop culture and the black experience to get audiences to re-think challenging subject matter and open up dialogue around race and identity. In This Little Word of Mine, Britto remixes the church revival experience with modern hip hop, re-framing the word ‘nigga’ and forcing audiences to examine its use (and misuse). And we had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. It wouldn’t be a successful performance and project had we not had audience members walk out (which they did), viscerally uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of language and culture and very likely, uncomfortable with their own relation to the subject matter. We were privileged enough to do two runs on the show; our first run at Rush Arts Gallery where we workshop-ed the piece and a second run at The Kitchen, alongside performances by Kenya (Robinson). Below is sampling of the show at The Kitchen during a dress rehearsal.
Post-Producer. Writer. Editor.
published: March 2017
Official Selection, Phoenix Comicon Film Festival (2017)
Official Selection, Grand Rapids Comic-Con Film Festival (2017)
Official Selection, Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival (2017)
Official Selection, Out of the Can Film Festival (2017)
Best Documentary Award, Super Geek Film Festival (2017)