12 OUR TIME PRESS March 12 – 18, 2015 | NEW VOICES in OUR TIME Marty Majeske, Esq. and Tiasia O’Brien M arty Majeske and Tiasia O’Brien are the soul of ActNow Foundation and its premier Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema (in partnership with BAMCinematek), returning for its 5th year, March 26-29 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It’s four days of films, panels and networking, but it also is a study in young genius at work “willing” a new global culture movement from the heart of Brooklyn. For schedule and ticket information, visit: http:// www.actnowproductions.org/. Moving to New York City from Chicago several years ago, Marty began working as counsel for ASCAP while pursing film production. After meeting diverse artists in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, he assisted Aaron Ingram with starting the ActNow Foundation in 2004 and has worked to pursue its mission for more than ten years. Tiasia has used her creative background to operate for seven years the MMBC marketing firm, dedicated to supporting artists & small business owners. Working with ActNow as their Development Director since 2013, she is honored to be a part of an organization with community roots in her home borough. With her superior skills in advocacy, creative strategies & marketing she continues to pursue film projects, is currently working to develop disruptive innovation for the accessible adaptation of social media, and will bring messages, news and new innovations of 21st century technology to the pages of Our Time Press beginning in April. Our Time Press is a sponsor of the ActNow Foundation’s 2015 New Voices in Black Cinema, and we’re proud to bring you the voices of Marty and Tiasia in this Q&A. OTP: Why should filmmakers pay as much attention to the business side of filmmaking as they do to the creative side, and where do they find the funds to produce their films? Marty: I could not say that filmmakers should spend as much time, as an artist’s primary responsibility should be to their craft, but they should spend some time, and if necessary for want of business help, significant time studying the business side of filmmaking. For all sorts of practical reasons-- protection of your intellectual property, to understand the value of your product, to know how to market your work. If you wish to pursue filmmaking as a career, it’s going to require commercial success, and in film that means from the very beginning ascending above a lot of competition.The time to start understanding the factors that produce business success in film is very early. Finding funds is a complicated question. There are any number of possible avenues – personal and family money, private investors, government entities, the public. But the key is the quality of your investment, the script. So to begin, one must look to relationships, contacts, resources, and if you don’t have any you have to start working on some. The next would be to consider a professional who can help you make those connections and construct those asks to the public-- agents, attorneys for example. What makes things difficult in the beginning is that without a track record, agents, investors, banks, venture capitalists will have a hard time considering you for an investment of their time and money. Even with a great script. There’s never any guarantee that a film idea will pan out. So it’s a big-time challenge. But there are many books, seminars, professionals, resources, Film Festival seminars (i.e., New Voices) out there to at least describe the avenues and steps to take depending upon your source. Tiasia: Having worked with artists to develop their business & marketing plans, I have learned that there is so much effort put into their artistry About Marty Majeske, Esq. Biography Marty Majesje, Esq. grew up on Chicago’s North Side and attended South Side Catholic high school. He graduated undergraduate and law school at the University of Illinois (downstate Illinois) with Accounting and Law degrees. Afterwards, Marty’s career began in law for the public sector: representing abused kids in Chicago’s Juvenile court, then moving to Washington DC as a legislative aid for a Philadelphia Congressman and the National Black Caucus of State legislators. After joining Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, he began to merge his passion for the arts & law. In 1999, after attending the Acapulco Black Film Festival, he was moved to immerse himself in acting and film production. ActNow Foundation and BAMCinematek Present the ﬁfth New Voices in Black Cinema festival, Mar 26—29 Four New York premieres, one US premiere, one world premiere The Wall Street Journal is title sponsor of BAM Rose Cinemas and BAMcinématek; Our Time Press is Community Media Sponsor of ActNowFoundation. Brooklyn, NY/March 2015—From Thursday, March 26 through Sunday, March 29, BAMcinématek presents New Voices in Black Cinema, the fifth festival presented with the Fort Greenebased ActNow Foundation. Reflecting the wide spectrum of views and themes within African and diasporan communities in Brooklyn and beyond, the series features four New York premieres, one world premiere, and one US premiere. Home to a variety of ActNow programs since 2009, BAMcinématek continues this partnership which provides a showcase for new and established voices in black independent cinema. Martin Majeske, managing director for ActNow Foundation, says of New Voices in Black Cinema: ActNow is honored to continue highlighting and supporting a diverse group of artists through this festival. In our fifth year, we are even more thrilled to bring unique programming from around the world to this eclectic borough that we call home.” Opening the festival on Thursday, March 26 is the world premiere of Ben Bowman‘s Knucklehead, a hard-hitting Brooklyn drama starring Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire) as a dysfunctional mother-son pair. When mentally disabled Langston realizes he must break free from his mother‘s toxic grip, he seeks out a celebrity health hack he believes has the key to his independence. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Bowman and Akinnagbe. The fifth year of New Voices in Black Cinema offers an array of strong narrative features, including the New York premiere of C.J. Fiery‘ Obasi‘s edgy throwback zombie film Ojuju (2014—Mar 27), in which a group of friends must dodge ravenous reanimated corpses in a cramped Nigerian slum. Jahmil X.T. Qubeka‘s South African monochrome thriller Of Good Report (2013—Mar 26) follows a schoolteacher (Mothusi Magano) who conducts a wild affair with his 16-year-old student. Originally banned in its home country, this Lolita-esque noir shocks with a strong performance by Magano, who recalls Jack VOL. 20 NO. 11 and less on the business side. In order to continue to pursue artistic endeavors revenue is necessary for supplies, administrative needs and operations. There should be a strong understanding of business & how it operates. As an artist who has been in business, I have seen how it helped me to think more strategically and achieve a more successful project. It is crucial to understand the industry you are in from both sides. This also helps to be a better advocate for yourself when entering contractual agreements. If you can manage a strong brand, finding funds is not as hard. Developing strong relationships is also a part of raising the necessary dollars for a project. OTP: You have brought New Voices to great heights in just five years! How did you do it? What is the personal life-motto you applied to this endeavor to make New Voices have such impact. Marty: New Voices has grown exponentially, but we have a long way to go. Our success is based on our foundational leadership-- Aaron Ingram, all of the staff, our supporters, Letitia James-- an early advocate, the folks at BAMCinematek deserve a lot of credit, too. It’s been a team effort. If we had a motto that would attribute to the festival’s success it would be something like “quality and consistency builds respect”. OTP: Did you grow up liking films, and what were some of your favorites? Also, who are some of your hero filmmakers -with regards to their business models? Marty: Loved films coming up. I was blown away by “Star Wars” and it went from there. Hero filmmakers-- Spike Lee, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Oliver Stone. Independence, select personal style, defiance of the status quo. Tiasia: I came up with my first idea for a film at the age of 7. Two years later, I was sketching designs for a clothing line. I have always been obsessed with creativity. As a child a favorite was Beetlejuice; I have always loved unique characters that were out of the “norm”. I also grew up discussing comics with my dad, so that has heavily influenced my interests. My hero filmmakers would be Tim Burton for his creativity, Darren Aronofsky for his exploration of the dark side of humanity and the Hughes Brothers for being daring & ground-breaking in so many respects. OTP: What are some of the goals of New Voices for the next five years, or where would you like to see New Voices in five years? Marty: In 5 years New Voices will be a major national Film Festival with major donors and sponsors who have the same vision as ActNow. Tiasia: I would love this as well to be a major festival with major backers. Additionally, we want to be able to support and promote more artists of color. OTP: How has your partnership with BAM been of benefit? Marty: BAMCinematek does a great job promoting the festival in partnership with ActNow. They have relationships with major media outlets that benefit the festival considerably. 6. Do you have any personal thoughts on people of color controlling their “voices” and their “imagery”? Marty: No special thoughts. We know that we should control those things. But then we must take responsibility for providing productive, creative, useful, thought-provoking images as well. We should be aware, conscious, of what we’re doing, how we’re projecting ourselves to the world and whether or not what we’re showing is worthwhile. Tiasia: My only thoughts would be to focus on diversity; people of color come from such different backgrounds & histories that I would love to see this represented in film. If we can better exhibit these rich, diverse stories through film we can help eradicate many social stigmas. About Tiasia O’Brien Biography Obsessed with creativity since childhood, Tiasia O’Brien has actively participated in various artistic projects. After attending acting workshops during her grade school years, she graduated to attend Adelphi University studying Communications with a focus on Moving Image Production & Ethnic Studies. During this time she began Mad Run Productions, a company dedicated to creative projects that would change the media’s mainstream standards of culture. With the goal to “unplug individuals”, her first project Khameleon Designs was started in 2006 and continued as a women’s ready-to-wear apparel line for four years. Khameleon Designs was exhibited at various fashions shows at LIU, Adelphi, Hofstra, venues in NYC and Downtown Atlanta Fashion Week. Nance in Eraserhead or Anthony Perkins in Psycho (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian). Also screening are the US premiere of Rob Brown‘s Sixteen (2013— Mar 29), which recounts a former DR Congo child soldier‘s struggles to reconcile his traumatic past with his new life in London, and Nefertite Nguvu‘s atmospheric Brooklyn ensemble piece In the Morning (2014—Mar 28). Nguvu will appear in person for a Q&A following the screening. This year‘s festival also includes an extraordinary selection of documentaries charting the political climate across the globe. Among them is acclaimed cinematographer Arthur Jafa‘s (Crooklyn and New Voices selection, In the Morning) feature-length directorial debut Dreams Are Colder Than Death (2014—Mar 27), which screened at last year‘s New York Film Festival and contemplates the black experience in America via interviews with Charles Burnett, Kara Walker, and others; Joanna Lipper‘s The Supreme Price (2014—Mar 28), an ambitious look at Nigeria‘s political evolution through the eyes of feminist Hafsat Abiola and one of ten films all human rights activists should see (The Huffington Post); and Life’s Essentials With Ruby Dee (2014— Mar 28), a tender documentary directed by Muta‘Ali Muhammad about his grandmother, the cherished actor and iconic activist. Also screening is the New York premiere of Rachel Perkins‘ Black Panther Woman (2014—Mar 29), a portrait of one woman‘s experience in the Australian Black Panther movement. Other highlights include the New York premiere of Andrew Adkins and George Potter‘s An American Ascent (2014—Mar 27), a documentary about the first group of all African-American mountaineers to climb Mount Denali; Kiara Jones‘ charming family drama Christmas Wedding Baby (2014—Mar 27); the New York premiere of Destiny Ekaragha‘s Gone Too Far (2013—Mar 28), a side-splitting comedy about the new relationship between a British teenager and his Nigerian brother; and a Shorts Program (Mar 29) made up of a biting new satire by BAMcinemaFest alum Shaka King (Newlyweeds), a documentary on a machete master in Haiti, and more. Christmas Wedding Baby director Kiara Jones and producer Ralph Scott will appear in person for a Q&A. Since its inception, ActNow Foundation has presented stories about race, love, family, cultural differences, self-empowerment, the corporate world, and the toils and aspirations of the working, middle, and upper classes, with a declared mission statement to promote and preserve independent films and theater that reflect the infinite range of African diaspora images across the globe. The complete New Voices in Black Cinema schedule and film descriptions are below.
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