In the six years that the Los Angeles based members of the African Artists’ Association (3As) have been gathering monthly to meet and share progressive conversations with leading figures in the Arts and Entertainment industry, a common question continually surfaces – How do we as Africans in the Diaspora secure the ability to tell and distribute our own stories? This need to shape an authentic narrative has in recent years been further exacerbated by the injustices served up by racist policing practices and a judicial system that all too often exonerates these injustices.
However, as the loudly growing African diaspora reaction to injustice is discussed and opined by pundits – Cinema – an art form that marginalized groups historically turn to for respite, seems to offer people of African heritage little by way of potential solace. So whatever happened to the independent films targeting the African diaspora audience?
Since the decline of the DVD market there has been a constriction of quality independent film production, further compounded in the recent years following the global economic collapse. It appears that in both the categories of dramatic fiction and documentary storytelling, people of African heritage have largely been relegated to consumer status, standing idly by and forced to watch as our iconic heroes such as James Brown, Nelson Mandela and Nina Simone undergo an unfamiliar and dissatisfying imagining of their stories at the hands of White Filmmakers with as little affinity to Black culture as their Film Studio benefactors.
So is independent film dead? And worse still – Is independent film, created by people of African heritage doubly dead? Well maybe not. Enter ‘Seed & Spark’, a vibrant filmmaking platform that has evolved the crowdsourcing initiative in to a robust trifecta:
- Curated packaging of your content – No more stale, uninspired “please fund me” videos, with unimaginative donor rewards. To be accepted to the S&S platform one has to pass a wonderfully constructed series of QC guidelines. What is interesting here is that Filmmakers are universally praising these innovative guidelines for helping them raise their game, identify their true audience and giving them a greater strategic understanding of their own film.
- Strategic ‘Crowdsourcing’ assistance – The S&S process ensures a personalized and analytical approach to engaging your audience throughout the fundraising process.
- Distribution Partners – Unlike most other ‘Crowd Funding’ platforms, the high percentage of S&S’s successful campaigns can then consider distribution possibilities from the platforms list of top line distribution companies, as well as an alternative self-distribution relationship with TUGG.
So could Seed & Spark be the future of how independent filmmakers secure the ability to finance, produce and distribute their own stories?
In a recent workshop presented to members and guests of the African Artists’ Association (3As) Emily Best, Seed & Spark’s founder had this to say: “The vast majority of what goes on in Hollywood is people independently finance something, they independently make it and then they sell it and never own the rights to it ever again and never see another dollar from its exploitation”. Emily passionately outlined the advantages of the Seed & Spark platform, sharing well-honed execution strategies and a strategic power point deck presentation that was invaluable to filmmakers of every experience level.
While ‘crowd funding’ may no longer be greeted by the starry-eyed expectations of just a few years ago, Seed & Spark are in the enviable position of being able to outline the scores of successful filmmakers who are making their films through their platform and at the same time learning the business of filmmaking from Script to Screen, Distribution to Profit Participation. Judging from the success of Seed & Spark – independent film ain’t dead! In fact – one could argue – it never looked better.
For more information on Seed & Spark visit: http://www.seedandspark.com/
– Rodney Charles