Hey Y’all! Welcome back to my page. I wanted to use this post to discuss my experiences being a young black female filmmaker because I couldn’t find any other black female filmmaker discussing this online. SIDE NOTE: IF YOU’VE FOUND ANY, PLEASE SEND TO ME!
I will start by saying that my film journey is very unique to say the least. I initially wanted to be a CEO of an established business or a Marketing Analyst, but those dreams quickly faded when I took a statistics class. I came into media through a dream by God, and the rest was history. Although I’m following my passion, my literal dreams, and desires, it’s not an easy journey. I say this ALL the time, but my career isn’t glitzy and glamourous. If you’re a filmmaker, you know this. The behind the scenes are rocky as hell. I have to face the reality that the journey I’m embarking on is filled with white men. LOTS OF THEM. My boy-crazed teenage self would had been in heaven to be surrounded by men, but when you have to work with some who don’t believe in your craft is disheartening. You see, it’s not just a race thing (because it is lol), but one thing I’ve learned rather quickly is that you will come across selfish people. I guess you can find them EVERYWHERE but I’ve noticed it in the industry. One thing that is important is to always give. Give, give, give! Give when you can and use wisdom. When I say give, I don’t mean monetary but to give opportunities for people! Whatever is meant for you, will be for you.
Create a circle of supports
Prior to me leaving SF State, I made sure I left with several contacts. In addition, I connected with other black film directors and persons of color in the industry. I wanted to use our voice to make an impact in our world through visual media. In graduate school and now, I support my colleagues by producing/directing content for free or by being paid.
SIDE NOTE: It is important to support your colleagues even if it means it being free.
I did/do whatever it takes to strengthen my craft to be the best filmmaker I can be. I’ve learned so much while producing/directing content for free! Not only was I able to make mistakes that probably would had gotten me fired on set, I established a sense of my artistry without being restricted by a company. Also, you’re able to include these many unique works on your reel! So I say this to say, find people who look like you and collab! Don’t look to big name celebrities or corporations to start, begin with your circle and produce amazing content. Being a black woman, it was important to find other black women who were committed to filmmaking (especially in the Bay Area). It was such a relief to know that we exist behind the scenes, and creating a sisterhood was essential. A great start is Google & Facebook. I found a cool website called, blackfemaledirectors.com, likewise, there’s so many Facebook groups catered to whatever needs you’re looking for like:
- Brown Girls Doc Mafia
- 911 Femmes with A Cam
- Sub Binder of Women Directors, dept. of TV and Film
I’ve always stated that I wanted to produce content that is meaningful to the world. Yes, this is very broad and that is on purpose. My ultimate goal is to include more people of color in front and behind the camera and explore stories that either haven’t been told or explored in depth. At the start of my career, I promised myself to always be me; which is goofy, God-fearing, joyful, a major eye roller, and more. I’m a Gemini, I can’t help it! This also means being black. I’m black, blackity, black, black and there’s no changing it. Being black encompasses so much culture, personality, beauty, love, history, power, and more all bodied into me. There’s no way I can deny it or quiet my blackness for anyone, so I can’t stress enough the importance of being yourself in this industry. If you’re not careful, you will find yourself caught in the mix of trying to please others. STOP, and refocus! There’s so much peace at being YOU.
Prepare for Rejection
Y’all! I don’t think there’s a manual to being rejected…maybe you’ve been rejected by a guy/gal or friendship, whatever that may be, BUT being rejected by a job when it’s your passion is HEARTBREAKING. I remember getting my first rejection from Pixar when I applied years ago, I was devastated because I put my ALL into the application and thought I was surely going to be invited for an interview. Unfortunately, I wasn’t and I applied many, many, many times afterwards. The funny thing, I managed to get invited for a tour which was great, but Pixar folks if you’re reading this, why y’all gotta tease me like that tho?! All jokes aside, getting rejected from an institution/company is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. It’s not! You have to understand that rejection is all a part of the game. You will be rejected, again and again. Even when you’re successful and have a gazillion and one movies/television projects, rejection will knock on your door and slap you in the face. I mean it. Once I learned that rejection is also God’s redirection, I FELT SO MUCH BETTER. In the past I used to feel so down upon myself, I felt as though I wasn’t worthy. I put my entire identity on a job application and when I didn’t get the opportunity, I felt so terrible. I thank God that I’m still working through this. Rejection still stings, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t linger as it used to.
Coins or Nah?
After graduating from film school, I thought I was going to be making BANK! I thought, every job/opportunity I applied for would beg me to work for them. WRONG. I learned quickly that you have to hustle just like everyone else. Nothing is handed to you, and sometimes you have to work twice as hard because you’re black and female. With that being said, I highly suggest finding a side hustle as you work towards your career as a filmmaker. For example, tutoring is probably one of THE BEST methods of making money. You can earn up to $30-$50+ an hour depending on your experience. Some tutoring companies even allow you to choose your own hours too. I always tell folks, it may not be the “job” you’re aiming for now, but just remember that it’s temporary! You will soon arrive to your dream career sooner rather than later. Also, don’t be ashamed by your current state or if you have to live with family before your big break! If you keep working hard, trust me, it will definitely pay off. You may not see it now, but it will! I’ve had the opportunity to work on a few great projects, including a Netflix film. I was not paid high dollars, but the experience and network was well worth it. Again, I haven’t made big bucks yet, but one day I will and it will be so worth the hard work + dedication!
I HATE to end this post right here, but that is all I have for today. If you want me to write more about my experience or just want to say HEY GIRL HEY!, send me a message! firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s chat!
Your future awaits…keep going!