Can we just take a moment to celebrate that I have officially released 6 films in 6 months?! Like, that’s wild af right?! Sheesh!!!
And this film, man... I felt this was so important. After the death of Oluwatoyin, the ongoing fight for justice for Breonna Taylor, the stories I’ve been reading about Black women and their treatment in the workplace under the leadership of Black men, the conversation around J Cole’s “Snow on the Bluff”, and so much more, I was compelled to tackle the issue of the dynamic between Black men and Black women.
It’s long been a conversation I’ve wanted to ignite and facilitate, but I wasn’t sure the best way to go about it. One thing I was always sure of, is that Black men who were open and willing to listen, had to be a part of the conversation.
Before I delve into my thought process during the making of this film, I’d like to share my feelings since its release.
Normally I feel extremely relieved and ready to move forward once I’ve released a film, but there’s something about this film that has kept hold of me. This is not a one time thing, as in, the subject matter; I’m not done with it. I’ve always felt that I knew what my purpose was as a filmmaker, but I feel, even more clear about it.
I think much of Black art is a mirror to the current Black experience as society knows it. America...the world...everyone is intrigued, captivated, entertained by a specific narrative when it comes to Black America. It’s one of constant struggle, pain, overcoming.
The breadth of Black life in art is not explored, let alone exhibited.
I believe that my purpose is to subvert the narrative of the Black experience, especially as it pertains to Black women, but really, Black community.
To be clear, I will always have Black women at the center of my stories, whether they are physically present or not, but I want to continue to be more intentional in my approach, constantly asking myself, “How does this serve as a catalyst for conversation, healthy discourse, healing?”
And I want to continue to use my talent as a filmmaker to address what’s going on with us daily, beyond the martyrdom, beyond the injustice, beyond white adjacent issues. We are so much more than “the lesser”.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program...and also, if you have not watched the film, WATCH IT NOW, then come back.
For transparency’s sake, my initial idea was to make a film of me affirming Black women...doesn’t that sound basic? And honestly, how many commercials, PSAs, posts, etc. have you seen with Black women affirming other Black women? We do it all the time. We are our biggest supporters.
But what we don’t see or hear nearly enough of, is Black men affirming Black women, which is why we constantly say, “Black men don’t care about Black women.” It’s a thing for a reason, a valid reason (actually a host of valid reasons) but rather than focus on what is, I decided I’d take a utopian approach and show what could and should be.
I felt it best to have Black men address other Black men and also address Black women with the intention of taking accountability, taking a stand, showing understanding, and showing love.
I did this for two main reasons:
Men listen to men.
Women want to hear from men who listen to women.
One other important point that I’d like to make, is that I wanted all the Black men involved to be cisgendered, heterosexual. The reality of the matter is that cis hereto men have been the worst offenders when it comes to intraracial oppression, not only that, I didn’t want there to be any excuse as to why a point made was invalid.
This conversation is one of complexity, nuance, deep seeded pain...and many of the conversations I see take place on the matter are littered with condescension, disrespect, and disregard, on both sides, but I feel the push must come from men, specifically cis hetero men, and as a Black woman and filmmaker, it’s just as important for me to create the space for men to express their truths and perspectives.
For context, I came up with this idea roughly two weeks before its scheduled release. It took me another two days to come up with questions, of which I consulted a few people. I then employed my friend, Domo to help me reach out to men who felt would be willing to participate. I gave everyone a deadline of Tuesday to send their voice memos (which puts my at 6 days till release). A few people needed extra time, so I extended to Wednesday (down to 5 days).
I received voice memos from nine men in total. In all honesty, 5 days was plenty of time to edit this project, because, although nervous about my creative decision, I knew I wanted it to be an audio film, but of course, I procrastinated. I essentially edited the entire film between the 28th and the 29th (and made the poster and trailer).
The most difficult part was cutting it down, and doing it in such a short time, in no time really. There was so much that was said, that I felt needed to be heard, but it ultimately didn’t fit. It’s a term that filmmakers call “killing your babies” and I had to kill a lot of my babies right after birthing them.
Ultimately, I’m so happy with how it came out, but I don’t feel like it’s the end. I want to continue to work on it, perhaps in a collaborative form, with other filmmakers.
What do you think? Should I extend the life of this project and being more people in?
Since I essentially spilled my guts in the middle of the post, I’m not going to do a lessons learned and things to keep doing segment. I’ve already done the most.
Thank you for reading.