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Think Like a Man Wins at the Box Office

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Posted on Sep 22, 2012 4:05:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 22, 2012 4:06:46 AM PDT
When I see articles like this, this discussion came back to mind, as to how no Black directors have done films that would justify giving them a bigger budget, or taking a chance on a black director heading a major film.

Disregard the fact that remaking 47 Ronin as a fantasy epic, or castin Kenau Reeves as a lead in a Japanese film are bad ideas. Actually don't disregard that because in Hollywood's eyes, a stupid idea is more viable than any film that focuses on Blacks it seems. So you're telling me no Black directors in Hollywood had credentials that were as good as Carl Rinsch? A few commericals and you can helm a $175 mil budgeted film your first time out of the box? Didn't Disney learn that lesson with letting a first time director (for live action films at least) director John Carter? You'd think the mentor concept of having a veteran on hand would cross someones mind.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012 8:08:56 AM PDT
This could be the smartest "black" comedy to come out in years. If you got the funds you really need to help this guy out on his kickstarter.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 4:58:41 PM PDT
N/A says:
In many ways, I don't think many black artists care what whites think. In the music industry, black artistry is so prominent that everybody (and I mean everybody) takes their lessons from it but that had always been the case even with rock music. But I doubt BB King cared about white opinions or what The Rolling Stones transformed his style of music into. However, King wasn't angry or resentful about it either.

With film, many of the black directors that came along operated by their own individual standards. I don't think they ever thought they would ever be embraced by white Hollywood and accordingly, they didn't try to court their opinion. I don't think its been until most recently, that black directors have attempted to seek favor from the Hollywood establishment.

Ultimately African-Americans will have to come up with their own thing, which is often what we've done from the very beginning. But there needs to be a redefinition of what has substantive merit and what doesn't. I think among too many blacks, the things that are given the most support and attention are the things that are subversive toward the advancement and re-education of our culture.

It may not be realistic to evaluate our work on the basis of Hollywood considering they have the money and all of the resources, so the playing field is not fair. Looking at history, Cuba and Vietnam didn't define winning by the same standards of white America considering they didn't have the same resources. Cuba and Vietnam defined winning by their own standards, which was to wait the U.S. out for such a period of time in which there could only be a stalemate. A stalemate for a giant like the U.S. is a major loss but they were wins for Cuba and Vietnam, because it meant the U.S. could not effectively change their society. That change would have to come from within.

But I don't think black directors or artists have lived up to high standards, possibly because we have not set any. And we don't have a defined sense of success or winning. I also think we lack a sense of purpose and to find some, I believe that will require resolve.

Posted on May 29, 2012 9:10:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2012 9:11:16 AM PDT
>>> That was the case with jazz, blues, R&B and hip-hop. At first whites made it into "jungle music" but within 2 years, everybody is doing it. I don't think its unrealistic to believe that blacks are capable of that in other areas including film, art, dance or politics.<<<<

I certainly hope you are correct. It will certainly take resolve, but it seems those changes in perception tended to ocurred in areas in which blacks didn't care what "whites" thought. They were doing they're own thing. I think film is probably going to have to be the same way. We just have to maintain an excellence in whatever direction we go.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 8:46:08 AM PDT
N/A says:
I think you're correct that many stories of granduer will often feature whites in those roles as many of those films often date back into very old times in which blacks and other minorities were not factors. I doubt J.R.R. Tolken had extensive relationships with blacks in 1910s England. I also see an opposition to bringing any black characters into mythic territory. There was some opposition to Idris Elba playing a Nordic god in Thor, which he did well.

But there should be less emphasis on illuminating anybody's sense of grandeur and legacy because quite honestly, all of our histories are marred by savagery, lack of civilization and self-destruction. And this often spills into our treatment of others as well as ourselves. So, I wouldn't feel the need to tell some mythic story about white greatness or even black, Hispanic, Asian or Indian greatness, because all our behaviors over the course of human history have proven that none of us are great in spite of the monumental things we may have done.

Lastly, I think it very much does matter that some black films be able to stand up as a shining example of our artistic creativity. I wouldn't intend it solely as a way of going to world cinema and saying, "We can do great things too," which would be nice in a lot of ways. But I think gives us a greater pride in our work and our talents. We could say that with jazz and blues or even our social/political achievements in the past.

With experimentation, I think black directors must be able to open their minds to the abstract. My experience with black people is that they are often literal and avoid things that are out of the box. Blacks often have a strict, conservative way of perceiving things. Hopefully, that is changing with newer generations who are exposed to a wider scope of art and culture. Unfortunately, in my experience when it comes to experimentation of narratives, characters, structures and art, blacks often have to look outward rather than inward for that inspiration, especially for successful inspiration.

And I don't think there is a shortage of black protagonist characters or even compelling black characters. There is a shortage of major black stars but that can be said of all other ethnic groups outside of whites in this country, Canada, England or anything other white-majority country. But I think in time that will change considering two things: 1. I see a trend or new wave of talented male black actors that blow the hell out of Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner. 2. The way things are going the ethnic minority as a whole in the country will be the majority within the next 20 to 30 years.

The other question is do we want distinguished actors or stars? I lean towards a mixture of both, which to a certain extent I think we already have (just not at the level it should be or is going to be). I think that question also goes to directors/writers. Do we want Stanley Kubrick/David Lynch/Terry Gilliam (outside of box) thinkers with original styles or do we want Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis (blockbuster) directors? Again, I lean towards both.

And most importantly, certain things are often undeniable. You can oppose it, you can avoid it, and you can try to make it into something else but what people enjoy, they simply will enjoy. That was the case with jazz, blues, R&B and hip-hop. At first whites made it into "jungle music" but within 2 years, everybody is doing it. I don't think its unrealistic to believe that blacks are capable of that in other areas including film, art, dance or politics.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 7:56:54 AM PDT
I agree with that analogy. It would be nice if those specific directors branch out to different genres and not be sandboxed into making the same type of film over and over. I can appreciate a smart and funny comedy no matter who is in it. I'd much rather avoid the same sterotypical comedies that seem to be ever so popular.

Posted on May 29, 2012 7:13:26 AM PDT
Quite possibly the last Think Like A Man related article. Found this blog while researching something else, but it brings up an interesting point that few people are willing to touch upon, and that is how segregated our nations viewing habits are.

Been thinking about this a lot over the weekend, and what it means for black/minority directors that want to do bigger projects. The point is we need writers who will tell epic stories in which black and other minorities get to be heroic. We (at least in the West) no longer have an oral tradition. That has now been replaced by media, film and television. Watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy + appendices over the holidays, it occurred to me that in addition to being a good story, that it was also a magnificent glorification of whiteness. Not intentionally on the part of the filmmakers, but because there are no equivalents that feature other ethnic races in similar epic grandeur. At least not in the U.S. I know that Asian and India, have their own cinema, but I'm American, so you'd expect that since we love to consider ourselves a melting pot some of the heroic tales would feature someone else at least once. The question is even if a filmmaker were to make a story just as grand, would mainstream America go to see it? The answer sadly is probably not. Would the rest of the world? I have no idea, but we're not going to find out if we leave it to Hollywood. While I believe the strategy of black directors making universally commercial films for recognition is viable, I've decided that I don't really wish to magnify an overblown European legacy. They already have the Hollywood machine for that. While I still believe that blacks in particular need to branch out and tell other stories, using new techniques, and we need to experiment, I think it is important that stories with ethnic protagonist be told. It doesn't matter if the films are blockbusters or not. They need to be out there for balance. Just because they might center on the ethnic lead, some people will never ever consider them as good as films done by white directors, but it really doesn't matter.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 5:20:35 PM PDT
N/A says:
I think there are good films with a predominately black cast but none of them are successful for that very reason. It would be nice for a black director to present something a little more unique and broader for a change. I don't believe we should stop making Do the Right Thing, but we don't make much else. Some directors are trying something different for a change (The Book of Eli, Abduction) but many are failing miserably.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 5:18:07 PM PDT
N/A says:
I think the inference there is that Spielberg and Cameron aren't unique filmmakers. Both despite being very mainstream, have uniquely set trends and pushed down the boundaries with both blockbusters and personal projects. So when I say a black Spielberg, I mean a black director who can do the same. Not somebody who will follow their every footstep, which is actually impossible, though influence by them might be somewhere to start.

I also think to say that if The Dark Knight was made by a black director it would be a "black film" is quite rubbish knowing that the film won't be made with black investors, producers and crews. If a black director made The Dark Knight, it would and should be considered a "film," not a black or white one. To give us a special name that we wouldn't apply to a white person in the same position feels "separate but equal." Nobody ever uttered that the Dark Knight was a white film. Most enjoyed it as a "great film." If Nolan deserves that respect, I think we do too if we made a film even half as good.

I do agree that there needs to be a retreat from the "black filmmaker must make black-themed films," which is a notion I think is perpetuated by some black people and taken at face value by whites. I think it would be nice for a black filmmaker to follow the path many other directors have, which is to establish themselves as unique craftsmen early on and later progress into artists who can make bigger projects that are unique, trendsetting and original. I don't expect that each time out but it would be nice for an effort in that direction. The problem is no black director in the position to do so has done that and I believe out the perception that broadening their audience is selling out, which is what music artists accused of everyday whenever they branch out. It also because no director has delivered results proving that they would be suitable for anything other than what they're doing.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 11:20:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 11:21:19 AM PDT
>>>Think Like A Man has been in the top 10 since its release. For a film of this nature, isn't that some sort of record?<<<<

TLaM has so far racked up $86 mil, and has probably done it in less time than any "black" film to date. I think it's kind of being realized under the radar. When you consider that it cost $12,500,000 that ain't a bad profit on investment by any stretch of the imagination. This is still before dvd sales. It could quite possibly do well over Memorial Day weekend if it lasts that long in theaters.

Posted on May 23, 2012 10:58:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 11:01:58 AM PDT
Ace says:
I'll have to say that I appreciate almost all of the comments in here because it seems like more and more people are starting to realize that the concept of non-white races portrayed is rarely accurate. There are some of us Blacks who are quite terrible people, but, just like other groups, they don't speak for the majority. I would like for more non-Blacks to support Black films just because most of them are very good films that just happen to feature a predominately Black cast. And you don't need a slang dictionary for most of them either! :0)
Also, friends, please be aware: Think Like A Man has been in the top 10 since its release. For a film of this nature, isn't that some sort of record?

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 10:45:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 11:22:13 AM PDT
>>>the question I must pose is do black filmmakers want to be and do black audiences really want a "Black Steven Spielberg?<<<

My answer to that question is No, I don't want a Black Cameron, Spielberg, or anyone else. What I do want is a black filmmaker who can make films that garner as much success as the films of any of those filmmakers with their own unique take to the craft. It's the same for when people say, "Where is the Black Dark Knight, or the Black Terminator?" Doesn't matter to me. Those films could be the exact same not one frame changed, and if they had been filmed by a black director I would have considered them black films. We have to get away from the notion that a black director has to make films specifically for a black audience. Black people go to all movies, so if your idea should have complete commercial appeal then make a commercial film. If it blows up at the box-office you can then make all the personal films you want. Then do another blockbuster and repeat the cycle. That would be my strategy.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 9:32:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 9:32:52 AM PDT
N/A says:
I think the usage of The Oversimplication of Her Beauty was a bad idea in the article. If you research it, it becomes clear that the filmmakers had no intention of the film finding any widespread commerical success. That's a film made purely for a specific audience. Also, a positive run at Sundance is not a gage for future success. Cannes, maybe. I think a better example is Frankie and Alice with Halle Berry.

To digress a little, the question I must pose is do black filmmakers want to be and do black audiences really want a "Black Steven Spielberg?" Hold that thought. Let's get to black people's perception of what "blackness" is. Unlike virtually every modernized culture I know, black people have a very narrow idea of what being "black" consists of. Take Hispanics. I've seen Hispanics embrace rap, rock, reggaeton, R&B, pop and electronic music. I've seen them dress, talk and express themselves in a variety of ways all the while liking different elements of various different cultures, music, movies and other forms of artistic expression as well as their own. And for the most part, they don't ridicule their own for not liking the same things they like. This can be said of white, Indian, Asian and Native-American cultures among others. Many black people (many young, some old), often hold those who do not embrace their idea of "blackness" as being "oreo cookies" or accuse them of "acting white."

This is why I question if black people want a "Black Steven Spielberg." At this point, I believe black people are smart enough to understand what it would require for that to happen. Ultimately, a black director would have to comprise. They would have to disregard racial themes, cast multi-racial cats, embrace/write universal scripts with intriguing plots not related to angsty explorations of sociopolitical issues, emphasize style/visuals/art on top of substance and become friendly with the "guilty-liberal, white-Jewish" Hollywood establishment. While this can certainly be done, I believe that such a person whoever that may be, would be branded a "sellout." Essentially, he/she would really be heralded by white audiences rather than black ones.

British singer David Bowie said that the civil rights era soured when it became apparent that the only way white society was willing to accept the vaguest verbal expression of "equality" with blacks was under the condition that they "become white." In cinema, many directors/writers abandoned their cultural interests for more universal stories (Ang Lee, Park Chan-wook, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Alfonso Cuaron), which for some is becoming white. The question is are any black directors willing to do the same? Some seem more open to it as of late but most of them are bad at it. The rest refuse to go that route. But when the time comes, will a black director do so and will Hollywood give him the opportunity to make them money? I think with the right guy, the right pitch and the right film, its more than possible. It will come down to their capability, which is what it should be based on in the first place. And at this point in black cinema, I'm more than ready for it.

Posted on May 23, 2012 6:06:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 6:16:31 AM PDT
This discussion has had me scouring the net for other opinions and articles on this problem which has also directed me toward other films by black filmmakers that I had never (and probably would have never) heard of.

This relately recent article has put me on the trail of another film, I've got to find. Considering that the article came out in Jan. It says a lot that you can be a hit at sundance, and still go unknown to the rest of the world.

[this is the other problem with films mislabeled as "black" films. If you do a search on reviews of the Nance film they all appear very positive. It's now five months later, and you can't find the film anywhere. The problem for black directors with a different perspective goes beyond just getting the films out there. It also involves overcoming peoples prejudices about what "black" films are so that they watch your films with the same objective eye that they watch the films of white filmmakers.]

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2012 9:57:05 AM PDT
N/A says:
I certainly wouldn't invest much time into YouTube. I mean, its a nice for a 5 minute entertainment viewing but I still enjoy the power of cinema far more than YouTube. I think a lot of people criticize Hollywood for some of the recent directions its taken particularly with remakes, but even they make up a small percentage of what comes out in U.S. and world cinema. There's still stuff in there if you're willing to find it. And after these years, I still come into December with a very eager mindset of anticipation for Hollywood's best, both indie and mainstream.

I think most industries at this point (including music) are in a moment of limbo. They're just waiting around for the next big wave or trend to come in. The internet and its particular effect on the niche preferences have made it much harder for that new wave to come through. Still, I am very much appreciative of the originality I've seen in new filmmakers as well as some old ones. And even among those who aren't going to reinvent the wheel, I still enjoy the work.

I guess I can have a cynical approach to a lot of things. I personally think the music industry has become absolutely worthless. But I always remain positive about cinema.

Posted on May 22, 2012 6:05:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 22, 2012 6:13:38 AM PDT
While I will agree with you in the course of direction "blacks" need to take, (if it's some sort of mainstream success we're looking for) I don't think it's necessarily going to come from "filmmakers" per se. I'm actually seeing more innovative and fun stuff from indies on the internet than I am from even the pros. Young people like FreddieW and his new youtube series Wongfu productions, and the guys at CorridorDigital and the stuff their doing. Yet again I haven't see any blacks experimenting with this type of stuff, but I know their out there, and it's only a matter of time. The equipment is getting extremely affordable, so odds would indicate that we are long overdue for a black person with a different vision is going to come out of left field. Like I said I know lots of blacks who are into gaming, comics, Sf and all sorts of things not considered "black" pasttimes, soon someone is going to incorporate those interests into film. I'm extremely hopeful.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2012 5:59:22 PM PDT
N/A says:
If the question is can a black director tell a story about black people, I think the question is rather foolish and fairly obvious. But the most compelling question when it comes to the ability to do something, is who can do it better? I think that should be asked on a case to case basis.

Spike Lee posed the question of whether a white director could direct a black film to Norman Jewison when Jewison was originally tapped to direct Malcolm X. Jewison stepped down voluntarily and let Lee do the film. 7 years later, Jewison made The Hurricane, another black story. I think he did an excellent job. Could a black director have made it. I'm quite sure he or she could have. I think the more interesting question is could a black director made the film as competently. Could black director with the experience of someone like Spike Lee make a film better than Jewison, whose experience goes before his seminal film In the Heat of the Night? I'm not going to give an answer but that's a more interesting question.

The article mentions American Gangster. I saw that in the theaters and I was greatly disappointed by it. I have respect for Ridley Scott and writer Steven Zaillan but Blade Runner and Gladiator both weren't my favorites and Alien was just "decent." I think his Prometheus will be very good if not great though. However, American Gangster was a big let down and I would have been more interested to see what someone else could have done with it, a black director or writer included. However, I find Tilda Swinton's win for the Oscar over Ruby Dee to be astonishing considering how little Swinton did even with a multitude scenes in comparison to Dee.

Talk to Me did not interest me at all, so I skipped it. But as a question, I'm not exactly thrilled by the inference. I think before we question whether someone or not is "entitled" or "able" to tell our stories, I think we need to question our own abilities to tell our own stories. I think in some cases, we do it well. Other cases, I am very much displeased with the lack of quality. The difference is, when a black director doesn't do a good job, I know its the best they could do and I will at least applaud him/her for their effort. But when Ridley Scott screws up, I shake my head asking "What happened?" simply because he can do better and has demonstrated it more than once. It'd be nice for it be the other way around for a change.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2012 5:46:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 21, 2012 5:47:13 PM PDT
N/A says:
I think its much easier for black actors to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. Several black actors defied the odds and the pigeonholds that held them in their early careers including Don Cheadle, Octavia Spencer and Queen Latifah among others.

Its much more difficult for black writers/directors to break into the industry and those that do often adhere to the angst-driven, blame-game or the pity party poverty show akin to the Jerry Springer show or at the very least into the buffoonery that pervades our image in cinema.

I think women do get good roles if they prove themselves worthy of them. Viola Davis was never a "homegirl" type actress. She never looked or sounded to that part. In all of her roles, she portrayed a certain dignity similar to Angela Bassett even in roles in which she was in poverty and had no control (Out of Sight, Doubt, The Help). She was also given a rare sci-fi role in Solaris opposite George Clooney. Queen Latifah also was able to play some crossover roles (Chicago). But several young actresses have proven to be more than able to play complex roles including Rooney Mara, Carey Mulligan, Jennifer Lawrence, Mia Wasikowska, Elizabeth Olsen, Eva Green, Bryce Dallas Howard, Noomi Rapace and Emma Watson. Kerry Washington is also a fine black actress.

And if you ask me, its the men who aren't as great they should be. I can't think of many new male actors, white or black, who seem to be a fraction as good as the female actresses I just mentioned. Many of the actresses mentioned will probably become bigger stars. But there's a complete lack of the male leading actor in either the charming heroic type or in the tough guy mold. And none of them have great or distinctive voices. Zac Efron, Taylor Lautner and Josh Hutcherson are nowhere near the level of brilliance of Jennifer Lawrence.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2012 5:33:20 PM PDT
N/A says:
I mentioned that several people from the states who had trouble developing films in the states went to Europe to develop films and then brought them back to the states for the small studios to agree to distribute. It may very be the course of action of black filmmakers to look elsewhere for support if they cannot find it stateside.

However, while I advocate using the option if necessary, I don't believe we as a collective whole should be subjected to going elsewhere for everything. Its quite feasible that a black director could get a decent film made in the states. If Carl Franklin can adapt a lesser known novel like Devil in a Blue Dress, I'm sure he could find something of equal obscurity but not squarely a black topical issue and get someone to finance it at least a budget of $10 to 15 million.

I believe it to be rather drastic, unrealistic even that we would all have to flock to England, Spain and France to get any of our films made. I'm sure that if a black director handed in an undeniably fine script, he could get it made.

It may even be the case, that he/she not direct the first good script they write. Directors like Tony Gilroy wrote for years before inspiring the confidence of a studio, which ultimately allowed him to direct Michael Clayton, which earned him screenplay and directing Oscar nominations. Other directors worked in music videos in order to create a body of work that could prove their worth as directors. David Fincher, Mark Romanek and Samuel Bayer all went this route. Look at Romanek's video for Janet Jackson's "Got Til' Its Gone." Its probably one of the most beautiful views of black culture/imagery/history set in Apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately, not many black directors went that route or even could do it competently. Romanek's first film One Hour Photo (2002) with Robin Williams was a very fine effort.

But Romanek, Fincher and Bayer's music videos were quite unique. Many black music video directors bog themselves down into only making hip-hop/R&B videos. I also find it interesting that the frequently voted best hip-hop video of all time, Jay Z's "99 Problems," was directed by Romanek while many of the other black-directed videos paled in comparison. I think that's another medium in which black directors need to diversify.

Steve McQueen's Shame caught the attention of some in the states and Michael Fassbender was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA but was ignored by the Academy. I notice that McQueen's Shame features two prominent white actors (Fassbender, Carey Mulligan) and doesn't have a particularly black-centric topic. But because he's from Britain, I think his approach is less angry and much less obligatory to black social expectations than many from the states. And yes McQueen's work is unique but black directors from the states have not even tried to replicate his approach both stylistically and culturally. That's quite unfortunate and I believe its the key to growth of black people in the creation of worthwhile cinema.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2012 1:36:41 PM PDT
But are you overlooking black actors who appeal to every audience and have broken out of those stereotypical roles, such as Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman? And I am hoping Octavia Spencer after her Oscar win and Viola Davis (although their recognition was gained playing stereotypes) will receive better roles, although Hollywood is so behind the times in what roles are available for women, period. Women are either in lame romantic comedies or sex pot action roles, with a handful of good dramas thrown in to give Meryl Streep something to do.

Posted on May 21, 2012 1:30:05 PM PDT
Though I think we've long strayed away from the topic of think like a man, and should probably start another thread if the subject has legs. The following article poses an interesting question. Funny how the British seem to ponder all the interesting questions.

Posted on May 21, 2012 1:15:49 PM PDT
This article on Melvin Van Peebles first Hollywood feature sort of gives weight to my theory that a black director could actually get further in the industry if producers didn't know he was black, thus looking at the work itself and not so much the color of the director.

Also Julie Dash's film Daughters of the Dust, while it deals with "African American" themes seems to be the type of experimental film that black filmmakers are not known for, and which white directors get attention for. Whether it is your cup of tea or not, it does show that there are black filmmakers out there that are being experimental with the form and trying non-conventional story telling methods.

Julie Dash (born October 22, 1952 in Long Island City, Queens, New York) is a United States filmmaker. Her Daughters of the Dust in 1991 was the first full-length film with general theatrical release in the United States by an African American woman. Daughters of the Dust was included in the National Film Registry in 2004.

and Ebert's review.

I'm also pretty sure that you are familiar with London black filmmaker Steve McQueen whose work is also unique.

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 5:45:54 PM PDT
N/A says:
I think you are very much right that black directors must overcome a preconceived idea about our work and what we offer. Still, I think that expectation is very much based on all we've done in the past and our lack of success at doing anything different. I've always said that "the names we're called by are the names we've given ourselves." And I see that every film we've been given to branch out with, we've pretty much failed at doing (though I sometimes applaud the effort).

Black audiences as well as all other audiences saw Titanic and Slumdog Millionaire but while Indians will vastly support Slumdog, will blacks support Red Tails? If George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars can't prop a black film into place enough for black people themselves to give it a honest and dedicated shot, I don't see how we can expect anyone else to. But we'll watch Tyler Perry in droves, which is why he gets more than reasonable funding for everything he does in spite of its nonsensical quality.

Memento was marketed by Nolan's wife Emma Thomas to Newmarket Films, an indie studio. Studio exec Aaron Ryder stated that it was "perhaps the most innovative script I had ever seen." If you're trying to get me to believe that Mr. Ryder would have passed on the project entirely if a black person pitched the exact same thing, I just don't believe you for simple reason that there are no black directors pitching anything of that complex, intellectual magnitude. The overwhelming majority of us are either not educated enough to come up with that or not inspired enough by it to try something similar.

David Lynch is not a good example for funding. Lynch himself for several years had trouble securing financing and studio support for his projects in both film and TV since they are so unconventional. He had to go to France to get StudioCanal to finance the completion of his TV pilot Mulholland Drive. His latest film, 2006's Inland Empire, was financed entirely by Lynch himself and distributed by StudioCanal and was not successful. Mulholland Drive was a modest success but a big critical and cult classic success.

Terry Gilliam also has trouble getting funding for his projects as he is similarly a very surreal director. Most of his funding comes from Europe. Scott Kosar, the writer of The Machinist, was turned down at several points when trying market The Machinist since the script was "too dark." He and director Brad Anderson ended up going to Filmax Studios in Spain to get funding. So blacks aren't the only ones. A lot of people who think outside of the box have trouble with support. But where a lot black people fail, the white surrealists succeed. They leave America and go to Europe.

I also believe its more than feasible that a black director make out a breakout film. Call me naive, call me idealistic but I don't believe black people have made it this far as a people that we can't break through anymore barriers. If we can't, we've got nothing to hope or shoot for. We'd might as well as pack up and leave the business. It would also prove that black people as we stand today cannot accomplish much of anything and simply aren't the same group of people who got our rights some fifty years ago. Maybe that's true on a whole but I refuse to believe that its true for me.

Posted on May 20, 2012 4:48:19 PM PDT
Green Meanie says:
Think like a Man has made a total of $ 85 M after all this time. Pathetic !!!!

Posted on May 20, 2012 2:06:53 PM PDT
In a way this is a catch 22 type situation for black directors, solely because we're also dealing with psychology. A black director in the minds of the public and of Hollywood execs means a black film to be marketed to a black audience, even moreso if the story has any black people in the cast in other than supporting roles. White directors don't have this problem. No matter how niche the story might be, unless it is an art film it gets treated as if it is a mainstream flick.

It's because of this mindset that the money argument does come into play in a sort of backhanded way. Blacks do have a pretty narrow margin of genres in which they will actively go out and spend money on when it comes to "black" films. They will also go out and spend money on films that have all white or predominately white casts. True they might not go in groves to see The Iron Lady (most white American's didn't either), but black ticket sales did figure into the gross of films like Titanic, The Avengers, and even Slumdog Millionaire. Now because of the mindset of white execs black filmmakers don't have much margin for the same amount of artistic leeway that a young white filmmaker has, especially if he's looking for investors. This holds true even if it is an established black filmmaker, because they (the execs) are only thinking of marketing his film as a "black" film. Although I can't prove it, I don't really think a black director could have sold the idea for Momento to a studio, they would have thought it too weird a concept for a black film. No black director could get funding for anything that David Lynch has made, and if one managed to fund it out of their own pocket, where would they exhibit it? The end result of this argument is that you will probably never see a "breakout" film from a black director that comes out the the United States. Not unless the ethnicity of that filmmaker is withheld from the public and the film features no black performances in major roles.
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  153
Initial post:  Apr 30, 2012
Latest post:  Sep 22, 2012

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