Time Warner Hosts Panel Discussion with Reel Sisters for Black History Month

25 Feb 2014 -

(Above, L-R: Panelists and filmmakers Bryon Hurt, Nicole Franklin, Kim Singleton, Randall Dottin and Time Warner's Cary Jordan / Photo Credit: Reel Sisters)

By Tara Smith

Last week, Black Employees at Time Warner (BE@TW), an employee business resource group, hosted “The Art & Business of Film Making: An African-American Perspective,” a special panel discussion held in conjunction with Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series to celebrate Black History Month.

The panel discussion – created in honor of Oscar Micheaux, a trailblazing African-American filmmaker – featured four award-winning filmmakers who shared their experiences developing films that reflect the lives and traditions of African-Americans.

Kim Singleton (Kelly’s Secret), Byron Hurt (Soul Food Junkies), Nicole Franklin (Little Brother series) and Randall Dottin (Lifted) spoke with an audience of more than 50 Time Warner employees and guests about the importance of carrying on Micheaux’s legacy in their own work as independent artists.

“When I create characters, I try not to use stereotypes. I try to create archetypes and characters that people are familiar within the community,” said Dottin. “I feel like my job as a filmmaker is to take you on a journey of great depth and complexity in humanity.”

Time Warner’s Cary Jordan, an associate manager in Worldwide Recruitment (and also a budding filmmaker in his free time), moderated the discussion covering a range of topics including how African-American culture is portrayed in films and breaking the barriers of stereotypes in character development. Panelists also spoke about their process for sourcing story ideas and the rise in crowdfunding to finance films.

“Crowdfunding is what we always wanted,” said Franklin. “About 15 years ago, I’m sure all of us said, ‘What if we could pre-sell the ticket to our movie? We’d have our movie made.’"

Hurt added the importance of planning to bring a film from the research and development stage to pre- and post-production. “I think the only way you can really become more efficient in how you make your film is by planning as much as you can from start to finish.”

Following the discussion, a reception was held where panelists and representatives from BE@TW and Reel Sisters met with attendees to mingle and continue the discussion.

Watch a video clip below to hear panelist Singleton discuss the importance of having a business plan to produce a film, and see photos from the event.

Photo Credits: Time Warner and CINEMATIQ Magazine

Tara Smith is Associate, Corporate Communications, for Time Warner Inc.