Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ActNow: New Voices In Black Cinema Presented Legacy and...

...I am proud to report the screening was a success!

I attended the 6:50 showing, and it's a good thing I bought my ticket in advance because it was a sold out show! I spoke to a couple of people who stood in the back the entire time because the theatre was so packed. It was nice to see the audience so excited and anxious for this film. A big THANK YOU to everyone who came out!

Aaron Ingram, ActNow Founder, greeted the crowd as did Council Woman Letitia James. Director Thomas Ikimi also said a few words and then the movie began. If you want a full review of the film check out Tambay's review on Shadow And Act. I'm not going to review the film. Instead I am going to quickly and succinctly discuss why Idris Elba's Legacy is important.

The psychological thriller, written and directed by British Nigerian Thomas Ikimi, steers clear of the current formula of black cinema. Hollywood may feel their current contribution of films revolving around family dinners and church picnics are enough to sustain audiences seeking diversity, however moviegoers want more. ActNow events are so successful because they cater to the needs of frustrated audiences. During the Q&A Thomas Ikimi discussed Legacy not being a black film, but a film with a black cast. The response drew a rousing applause from the crowd. It was what many people have been waiting for. Legacy proves that you can have an all black cast with a theme universal to us all. It is a film that made us sit up and pay attention. We all wanted to know who is Malcolm Gray and why is he unraveling before our eyes.

Ikimi asked everyone who went to the screening to go to IMDB and leave a comment on the message board. The film will be opening in theaters soon, so help generate some positive buzz :) You can also leave comments here. Did you enjoy the movie? Tell us in the comments section and check out some pics below.

Aaron Ingram, ActNow Founder and Writer/Director Thomas Ikimi.
Thomas Ikimi discussing the film with an audience member.
Thomas Ikimi and Tambay taking questions from the crowd.
Legacy after party. Guests mixed and mingled.
Ikimi hung out and answered everyone's questions.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Tonight is the LEGACY screening! I hope you all have your tickets, if not get them. You don't want to miss out on this great event.

The director of LEGACY, Thomas Ikimi, will be doing a Q&A during the 6:50pm showing. But ActNow was able to catch up with the him before the screening and ask a few questions. Check it out below.

How did the idea of LEGACY come about? What was the first idea that popped into your head?
Hitchcock is one of my main inspirations as a director and as I didn't have much money, I was attracted to the idea of making a film in one room as he did with Rear Window, Rope and Dial M For Murder. 12 Angry Men really solidified my desire to make a one room film. Legacy is essentially a classic thriller but squeezed into a tiny space. It was a challenge, but it was one that allowed me to be more creative and experimental with telling the story.

Did you struggle with any aspects of the story in terms of the script?
Making the film dynamic when you never really leave the apartment was difficult. Writing the script in a way that allowed for movement and diversity of scenes and action was the toughest part of the writing process. It isn't easy to avoid stagnation when you physically haven't got anywhere to go but those four walls. However, a common comment from audiences has been that they forget the film is set in a single room till it is over and they look back on it and realise they never really left the apartment.

What advice would you give to a writer who has a great idea but doesn't know where to start?
Just start writing things down. That is the easiest way to know whether you have anything worth pursuing. The more you put on paper, the easier it will be to refine it.

Did you ever get so overwhelmed to the point where you felt you couldn't finish directing?How do you deal with pressure and stress on the set?
Yes. More or less every day on set. That was mainly to do with how much pressure I had on this film though. It won't always be that way. The best way to deal with pressure is having done the ground work and preparation before hand, and being very clear about what it is you wanted and want. Then, no matter how crazy things get, you always have a compass you can use.

Did you learn anything from your actors?
Yes. Actors need their directors to guide them. No matter how established the actor is, if the director doesn't know what he or she wants, the actors will be badly affected.

Did the success of your film LIMBO prepare you for LEGACY? How were able to create that film on a $9,000 budget while still in school, during midterms?
I was very young and naive with a ton of energy. I was 20 - 21, didn't realise how hard it was to make a film, and I just went and did it. A feature no less. I quickly realised that it was no joke. I have to say a lot of prayer, miracles and hard work and sacrifice made that film happen. It did prepare me for being a one man army though. I learned a lot about self reliance and being able to shoulder responsibility and take charge of situations, especially when there are problems. Without my LIMBO experience, there is no way I could have made LEGACY, a film I had to write, direct, produce and co edit.

The original budget for LEGACY was $20,000. But Idris Elba's involvement pushed it to $500,000. How did that happen?
I raised all the money for LEGACY through a company I set up in Lagos called Kaleidoscope Nigeria. I partnered with Amrit Walia of Deal Real Entertainment in Lagos to raise the funding which he coordinated through various investors. Once Idris was involved, it allowed me to show investors in Nigeria that we had a viable star that could guarantee returns on their investment based on the modest budget I was asking for.

How did Idris Elba get a hold of Legacy?
I sent him the script and an letter explaining who I was, what I thought of his career, and why I felt we should work together.

How did it feel to win an award at ABFF?
Amazing. That is one of the most important awards I have ever won, primarily because, for me, it is essential that black audiences embrace this kind of film. Too many people told me that black audiences won't be interested in films like this and that award proved them wrong. I believe the issue is that there are no films with black actors like this in existence. So how can you say black audiences don't want to see such films if they don't even exist? This film is not a 'black' film. It is a film with black actors in it. However, it is a film where black actors are playing roles that they are not often, if ever, seen playing on the big screen in this genre of film. For me, it is absolutely crucial that more films like this are made with ethnic casts so that more filmmakers of colour with different ideas can get a shot. Films like this need to do well enough to validate financiers supporting more different and interesting films with black or minority principle casts.

What can you tell us about your next project?
I am developing an action heist film and a futuristic sci fi film. Again it will come down to finding the backers to support my continued efforts to put diverse casts in front of and behind the camera in films that diverse casts have not yet grappled with to any meaningful degree.

Thomas Ikimi is a passionate director on a mission. Support his mission tonight at the Legacy Screening. Click here to purchase tickets.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Now I know I said the :50 second trailer was the only sneak peak I was giving you for Legacy, but our friends at Shadow And Act got their hands on the first official full-length trailer.

Click here for the brand new trailer! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Legacy Tickets

Today I purchased my ticket for Legacy and I found out that if you show your Bank of America Credit or Debit card to the ticket agent your $12 ticket will be reduced to $9! Just $9! You have to jump on this offer because it expires August 27. The same day as the Legacy screening ;)

If you are feeling lucky why don’t you enter to win two FREE tickets to the 6:50pm screening. Tambay, ActNow’s Film Curator, is holding a competition on his website Shadow and Act. Click here to enter!

Good Luck!

Monday, August 16, 2010

ActNow: New Voices In Black Cinema Presents: Legacy


Friday, August 27th , 2010

Showtimes: 2pm, 4:30pm, 6:50pm, 9:30pm @ BAMcinematek

Brooklyn, New York 11217

One man. One room. One mission.

Legacy stars Idris Elba, Eamonn Walker Monique Gabriela Curnen and Clarke Peters. It is written and directed by Thomas Ikimi, executive produced by Idis Elba and produced by Thomas Ikimi, Kiernan Parker and Arabella Page-Croft.

Legacy is a psychological thriller starring Idris Elba. Idris is probably best known for his work on The Wire and The Office, but he is switching gears for his role in Legacy. He plays a Black Ops operative who returns home after a botched mission in Eastern Europe. Once home he begins to mentally unravel and is torn between retribution and personal salvation. Check out the trailer below.

Now that :50 trailer is just a taste. You wanna see more? You have to come out to the screening. Admission is $12, $8 for BAM Cinema Club Members and if you go to the 2pm showing it's just $7.50!

For those of you who will be coming for the 6:50pm showing you are in for an extra special treat! A Q&A with director Thomas Ikimi conducted by ActNow Film Curator Tambay. Check out Shadow And Act for some of Tambay's work.

Thank you in advance to BAMcinematek and NYC Council Member Letitia James for working with us to make this screening happen!

Now after the screening come back here. Let's talk about the film.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Michael “Boogie” Pinckney got his start over twelve years ago under the tutelage of filmmaker Spike Lee and soon joined The Director’s Guild of America. He has over ten years experience as an assistant director on films such as The 25th Hour, The Best Man and Inside Man. He won an award for Excellence in Media from the Black Men’s Film Conference for his HIV film “The Candy Store.” Pinckney is also the founder and managing editor of Black Noise Media, a full service production house based in NYC.

If you attended the ANF Frantic Film Screening on August 11th you were fortunate enough to catch the film “Gun Play” directed by Pinckney. We recently caught up with filmmaker to talk about his film and how he got his start.

What led you create Gun Play?

I was approached by the producer Taj Lewis on behalf of Goodwill to create a short film that would speak to the issues of young people and I thought gun violence was an important issue for young people.

How was the editing process of Gun Play? Was it difficult to omit certain scenes?

I actually hired an editor and then later decided to edit the film myself. I wanted an edgy film with a gritty and high contrast look. I also wanted the effect where the whole film is black and white with only the cool red and blue showing, that was the first time I attempted that effect.

What impact do you think this film will have on audiences at the screening?

I think it has a hard and real effect on audiences. I added the documentary element at the end for that effect.

One of your films jobs was being a PA for Spike Lee. How did you get the opportunity to work with Lee?

When I was a sophomore in college I was taking some workshops that Spike was giving and I met a few people from 40 Acres, his company. I was able to score an internship from there.

What was the best of piece of advice you received from Lee?

Spike told me if I wanted to direct films I should go make a film

You've worked on many films, Malcolm X, The Best Man, Inside Man, which set gave you the most hands on experience?

Inside Man was a film I had the most creative input on. As an assistant director you’re given a lot of responsibly. But being that I had worked with Spike for over 10 years he puts a lot of trust in me.

What inspired you to create your production company Black Noise Media?

I created Black Noise Media to develop and shoot content I felt wasn't being produced by Hollywood.

You served as producer on the film Spare Change, which just premiered at the NY Latino Film Festival, How did you get involved with project?

With regard to Spare Change I knew the writer/director. She was an actor in my film You're Nobody Til Somebody Kills You. She called about a script she wrote and wanted to direct. She asked me to be a part of the project and help her make the film. I liked the script and saw how passionate she was about it and I came aboard.

What can you tell us about your first feature You're Nobody Til' Somebody Kills You?

You're Nobody Til Somebody Kills You is a feature film I wrote and directed. Spike Lee Executive produced the film and it's about a serial killer targeting rappers.

Congratulations on being tapped to pen the Bobby Brown biopic! How did that come about?

An actor friend of mine is friends with Bobby and they were talking about a movie being made on his life and my friend told him he should talk to me about it. So we all talked and I started researching and writing the script.

How would you best describe your writing style? And what advice can you give to writers struggling to complete a project?

My writing style is very mechanical. I breakdown the whole story idea and location and character breakdown before I actually start the writing process.

Writing is like giving birth. I mean I'm not a woman but I know giving birth is hard and painful. Don’t procrastinate. Stay up all night and complete it. The only thing stopping them from finishing the script is themselves.

Finally, can you name a film that changed your life?

The film that changed my life (In regards to film) was Do The Right Thing. FIGHT THE POWER!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Last night ActNow presented The ANF FRANTIC Short Film Screening. It was a great night filled with great films. After the screening Aaron Ingram conducted Q&A's with the filmmakers. Check out some of the pictures below.
"Consequences" actors Clinton Lowe, Stephen Wilde and Jarrett Alexander.
The writer and director of "Consequences" Darren 'Nice' Malone.
The writer and director of "F*cking Liar" Celia C. Peters.
Writer, director and star of "Waters" Yana Bille.
The writer and director of "Playguns" Michael 'Boogie' Pinckney.
Ekwa Msangi-Omari the producer of "Weakness".

A big THANK YOU to everyone who came out and supported ActNow and the filmmakers.
Hope to see you at the next screening!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ActNow Profiles...


Celia C. Peters is an avant-garde director and award-winning screenwriter creating compelling stories filled with diverse, authentic characters. Peters is a member of New York Women in Film and Television and Women in Production and the Writers Guild of America. Her work has been broadcast nationally and shown in festivals and galleries in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. Currently, Peters is developing her first feature film, an exploratory sci-fi project entitled Godspeed, as well as writing, directing and producing an illustrated multi-media sci-fi/fantasy Web series called Allevon and writing a live-action science fiction Web series called “Temporal”.

What led you to create "Breakthrough"?

I had a terrifying nightmare that I was riding in a car with my cousin Phyllis (who I get along with great, BTW) and she drove us off a cliff into the ocean. A huge wave rose up and was about to bury the car….everything was so realistic that I was convinced that it was real life. I mean, I consciously thought about it in the dream. As soon as I made peace with the fact that I was about to die, I woke up in my apartment --- but I had no idea where I was for a good 5 seconds.

How was the editing process of "Breakthrough"? Was it difficult to omit certain scenes?

The editing process was tricky because there was a disconnect between the footage and the script --- I realized this in hindsight, of course. The first rough cut of the film was based on the script but then I made adjustments to it (many, many adjustments) to try to get to the experience I wanted to create. Then, about a year or so later, I had a second editor trim the cut and tighten it up. The biggest challenge was realizing what I should have shot after seeing what I had in the can.

What impact do you think this film will have on audiences at the screening?

Overall, I hope the film will take the audience on a little trip out of the box. I am very much a fan of surrealism and “Breakthrough” was an attempt at telling a story in the surrealist tradition. Also, I expect (I hope!) that the interaction of the women --- especially the relationship between Sapphire and her cousin Phillis --- will make people squirm. At the very least, I think that women will recognize the kind of non-physical warfare that we are so ready to get into with each other….and I hope they’ll think about that.

What approach do you take when creating character driven stories?

My approach to creating character-driven stories is really one of exploration. My background is in clinical psychology, so I’m always in my characters’ heads…looking at what motivates them and how they act. I’m fascinated with how complex the human psyche is. I really get into how people feel things and how those feelings drive them…. Especially because it’s so different from one person to the next ---- and it always surprises me how those feelings translate into unexpected and dramatic actions.

What sparks your creativity?

Life sparks my creativity. Or I guess I should say my view of life…and the human existence in particular. Science and spirituality are major, major, major sparks for me.

What keeps your motivated?

The fact that the more I learn, the more I realize there is for me and all the rest of us human beings to discover. That excites me more than anything in the world and it propels me forward.

What can you tell us about your feature film Godspeed?

Godspeed will be my first feature film as a writer/director. It’s an exploratory sci-fi story about a woman who thinks she’s going crazy---but discovers she’s not human. As it turns out, her ‘insanity’ is the key to her redemption. It’s definitely speculative, because I’m looking at a scenario that’s entirely possible.

How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is inspiration-driven. (Thank God it comes often!) When story ideas or characters come to me, it really is like something is streaming through me and I try my best to get it all out as fast as I can. Then I go back and refine, refine, refine. Aside from that, my writing is psychologically driven; I did graduate work in clinical psychological and almost became a therapist. In terms of technique, I try to read as much about dramatic writing (story, character, etc.) as I can. Reading and enjoying the arts --- watching film, going to theater, going to art galleries, going to see dance and hear music --- all of that is critical to my process. It’s my way of getting the nutrients I need to continue creating.

And what advice can you give to writers struggling to complete a project?

Don’t give up! Getting over the finish line is *so* worth all the pain and angst and struggle, but the only way you accomplish that is to keep on moving. If you stop, you definitely won’t get there. Think of some work of art that inspired you and imagine how different things would be if that artist had given up when they got frustrated….if you’re really an artist, and you’ve been blessed to experience the joy of creating, you owe it to the artists who’ll come after you to share your unique gift. And not for nothing, but in the worst case scenario, even if you end up leaving that particular project in a desk drawer, the act of completion is critical to artistic growth. When you finish something, no matter what else transpires, you’ve accomplished something huge. You’ve created something. Definitely keep your eyes on the prize and never, ever stop going for it, because whatever you truly believe is what will be.

Finally, can you name a film that changed your life?

That’s not fair---I can’t name just one! I watch movies all the time, almost every day….and certain films have changed me a lot at different points in my life. If you asked me this question 5 years ago, my answers would be different than today, and if you ask me 10 years from now, I bet I’ll have different ones. Here’s a dozen or so that will always be up there:

Blade Runner (Dir. Ridley Scott)

THX-1138 (Dir. George Lucas)

Carmen Jones (Dir. Otto Preminger)

Chameleon Street (Dir. Wendell Harris)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Dir. John Cassavetes)

Eve’s Bayou (Dir. Kasi Lemmons)

The Killer of Sheep (Dir. Charles Burnett)

ChungKing Express (Dir. Wong Kar-Wai)

Portrait of Jason (Dir. Shirley Clarke)

The Godfather (Dir. Martin Scorsese)

Stormy Weather (Dir. Andrew Stone)

Nothing But a Man (Dir. Michael Roemer)

The Night Porter (Dir. Liliana Cavani)

Persona (Dir. Ingmar Bergman)

A Raisin in the Sun (Dir. Daniel Petrie)

2046 (Dir. Wong Kar-Wai)

Check out Celia's "Breakthrough" Wednesday August 11 @ Littlefield. And check out Celia's website: www.artisticfreedomfilmart.com

ActNow Profiles......


Yana Bille is a native of Cameroon and lived in France for over a decade before moving to the U.S. to further a career in filmmaking. She has written for the critically acclaimed Telesud TV Series, YaMa Afrika and is the head of eM1productions, an independent production company. On Wednesday August 11th The ANF Short Film Collective will be screening Bille’s short film “Waters” as part of our FRANTIC series. ActNow recently caught up with the director. Check out our interview below.

What lead you to create “Waters”?

It was time. I’d been thinking about it for a while so a couple of years ago I decided to come up with a self-contained idea that could be shot in a day or two with a limited budget.

What was the greatest lesson you learned while directing “Waters”?

The most important lesson I learned was that making a movie is a collaborative effort. So it’s important to choose your cast and crew wisely.

What impact do you think this film will have on audiences at the screening?

I believe this is a provocative movie and people react differently towards it. Some are uncomfortable, some find it very liberating. Once in a while after a screening some people come to me and thank me, in tears, for being their voice.

What sparks your creativity?

Creating is a very introspective process for me most of the time, daydreaming helps too…But I also get inspired by sounds, newspaper clips, delicious meals, and babies’ laughter. Pretty much anything has potential for a story for me.

What keeps you motivated?

I love movies and I don’t see myself doing anything else. Seeing amazing work by artists I respect keeps me going.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

I’m having a fundraiser on August 19th to finance my next film while I’m editing a feature film screenplay. The fundraiser promises a sensory overload of entertainment, including scenes performed from the film’s script on a live movie set, dancing to the hypnotic sounds of renowned DJ’s such DJ Dhundee and Ant Demby, and free drinks. It will take place at DCTV – 87 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013.

How would you describe your writing style?

Dark. I try to be as creative as I can possibly be by exploring obscure paths.

What advice can you give to writers struggling to complete a project?

Schedule your writing time and commit to it. Write an outline, it will get you through it. And never edit your work as you’re writing, you’ll have plenty of time to do it.

Finally, can you name a film that changed your life?

There are so many, but I would have to go with Holy Mountain. It’s a jewel that made me look at cinema and art differently. Alejandro Jodorowski is a genius, who uses spirituality, symbolism, incredibly striking images and unbelievable art to express his vivid depiction of the human condition. He makes me want to be good.

Come out and watch “Waters” August 11th at Littlefield. Showtime 7:15pm. And support Yana's fundraiser on August 19th at DCTV.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

ActNow Profiles...

Wanjiru Kairu

Wanjiru Kairu is a filmmaker based in Kenya. Her primary goal is to create films that promote social dialogue. Her film "Weakness" was the official selection at: Kenya International Film Festival 2009, Amakula International film Festival 2009, Umoja Film Festival 2010, Pan African Film Festival 2010 and New York African Film Festival 2010.

We caught up with the filmmaker. She talks about creating "Weakness", filmmaking and her future projects.

What lead you to create "Weakness"?

Abdu Simba, the screenplay writer and executive producer of the film "Weakness" and I met during a story-lining process of an East African television series that Ekwa Msangi-Omari had created and was contracted to produce. It was there that we all got to talk about our passion for film, the challenges and frustrations involved in the process and generally where we'd like to see the East African film industry grow and develop to.

A few months later, Abdu dusted off a script that he'd made for the stage, reworked it then sent it over.

"Weakness" was easy to fall in love with, the hopeless characters and the situations they were in really touched and connected with me. We just had to make this film.

What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?

Due to budgetary constraints we had one day to shoot the film. Still, it was a really good experience, making "Weakness", and I'd do it again.

What impact do you think this film will have on American audiences?

I sincerely don't know and would very much like to see how an American audience will react to this film, the questions they'll have, and whether they'll think the storyline to be too 'African' or heavily influenced by the west.

"Weakness" stars great Kenyan actors. What direction did you give your actors to help bring the characters to life?

I'm grateful I had some of Kenya's best talent in this film. It would have been hard to pull it off in a day's shoot with novices, and like all professional actors Maqbull Muhammad, Chichi Seii and Melvin Alusa kept giving their best, take after take.

What can you tell us about your first feature Transcedence?

The screenplay is a little ambitious in that it's an African Superhero storyline. It's also very much in its inception stage and there are many mythical and legendary stories that I'm consuming right now, so there are countless options as to how it could go.

What sparks your creativity?

Good books. People are very interesting to observe, questions and learn from. Good music, watching really good films and sometimes asking yourself "what if"?

What keeps you motivated?

My goal is to be instrumental in raising the standards of the films that come from the East AFrican region...and when the going gets tough, I have a support system (family and friends) that help me focus on this goal.

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers and writers?

Just do it. Make your mistakes and learn from them. Don't ever stop writing, or creating your films.

How would you describe your directing style?

In a word - chameleon. Every film calls for a different treatment and approach and as a filmmaker, I want to make films that provoke discussion, whether it is about the content or the style.

Finally, can you name a film that changed your life?

Wow, I wouldn't say "changed my life" but, there are films far too many to mention that trigger new ideas and call into question long held beliefs about life or art. Off the top of my head, I'd say She's Gotta Have It by Spike Lee and Quartier Mozart by Jean-Pierre Bekolo.

Check out "Weakness" August 11th at Littlefield. Showtime 7:15pm