Tips for Filmmakers from Black Creators

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Photo credit: Who Am I, Produced by Adhel Arop

Tips for Filmmakers from Black Creators

In the early days of the pandemic our social media and communications partners were challenged to find ways to support our Creator Community, digitally. Like most organizations, we utilized online platforms for connection, conversation, and storytelling. Hosting monthly Creator Chats live on Instagram, and then later on Zoom and Facebook, allowed us to continue celebrating the voices of our community, while offering viewers a chance to learn from the valuable experiences of independent filmmakers, content creators, and podcasters.

Black History Month celebrates and recognizes the profound contributions, achievements, and excellence of Black, and Afro-Indigenous folks in our communities. At STORYHIVE, we are proud to continue empowering and supporting the next generation of Black creators in British Columbia and Alberta. 

We’re spotlighting Black filmmakers and podcasters who have generously shared their industry experience with our audience.

Don’t miss it: Scroll to the end of this post for our recommended viewing + listening in celebration of Black History Month and beyond.

Podcasting + Identity

In this discussion, Mahkeebah and Sideah Alladice (That’s Trash, STORYHIVE Podcast Edition) share how the artform of podcasting allows a new generation of storytellers to express and explore their own identity. Here’s what we learned:

"Don't lose sight of your objective and what you're working towards. With all the information we were being bombarded with, it was often easy to get caught up in details that didn't really matter to us as much. Staying true to your objective is the most important thing. Don't forget your purpose." - Mahkeebah Fleming

The Power of Diverse Stories: Conversations with Documentarians

STORYHIVE creator Simone Blais is the project lead and director of the short documentary, "Dance Like Everybody is Watching." Her documentary explores the lives of three Black dancers in Victoria, BC. 

In our November Creator Chat, Simone joined Kent Donguines and host Sabrina Furminger to discuss how documentaries can offer a meaningful glimpse into the lives of marginalized communities, spotlighting the power of their diverse stories. Simone’s hottest tip for new STORYHIVE creators: 

"Just do it. Just jump in. You are going to make mistakes but whether you're a super experienced filmmaker, or it's your first time, you're going to make mistakes regardless. Jump in, tell your story, do what you have to do. Just that it's a learning journey, and you'll get there along the way. Hold true to how you want to tell your story." - Simone Blais 

Music in Screen-based Storytelling

For this special Creator Chat, filmmaker Adhel Arop and composer Della Orrey discuss how they employ music in screen-based storytelling, expanding on their collaboration on Adhel’s award-winning documentary "Who Am I?" from the STORYHIVE 2019  Documentary Edition.

During the discussion Adhel mentions the strength that can be found in the balance between music, and silence. Here’s what she had to say: 

"I've had a lot of positive feedback on our use of silence, more than our use of sound. Some people I've spoken to at festivals have told me ‘I love that opportunity you took to hold space and allow for the emotions to speak for themselves’…We were so focussed on how we can make things sound just right, but what stood out to people was our use of silence. I thought that was super powerful." 

It can be tricky to find the perfect sound mix to match your vision as a filmmaker. Here’s what collaborator Della Orrey had to say about her process when working with Adhel:

"I loved getting to know you and your family through this whole process. Once I nail those emotions down, it's me and my mini keyboard, and I kind of just throw what I call ‘lego blocks’ on the floor and flush out these loose creative ideas to nail the feeling...after that I just build out the mix and see what hits... As the mix grows, everything grows. Things just come to life."

Lastly, Adhel describes the link between music, and creating feeling in your film. How can you get in a state of mind to tell your story?

"I really see and hear the film before it's made. When I was making "Who Am I," for the whole 8 months, I didn't listen to anything but war music. Only music from South Sudan, or Sudan, I didn't venture off, I didn't listen to anything else, I just kept myself there. I kept myself in war, I kept myself in conflict. Me and my Mom would go through and write lyrics and translate some of her favourite songs and I learned to sing them. I immersed my whole self into where that place was and I stayed there for as long as I possibly could, continuing to chip through, work away, and feel what they felt... Staying there and being able to translate that to someone who could make [music for that feeling] really made me feel strong in my capacity and ability to direct, to allow people to feel and hear my experiences." 

Storytelling from Experience

In April 2021, the STORYHIVE community had a chance to virtually sit down with Mariah Braun, creator of STORYHIVE documentaries "Able" and "Life Without Diagnosis.” She was joined by Andy Alvarez (“Growing Up with Mi Familia,” “Yasmina”).

As a young emerging Black filmmaker, Mariah describes her hope for the next generation of creators. 

"I'm really hoping more youth get involved in filmmaking, people of different ethnicities getting their chance to participate on set or on camera. The more people like yourself and I that can get our names out there, the more youth see people like us as role models. They can see themselves doing that one day. They can actually see themselves in a leadership role, directing, producing, or anything like that."

Mariah’s advice for filmmakers in the making: 

“Just create things, just go out there and start creating things whether it's with your phone, a piece of equipment you rent, or whether you're hiring a friend who has a camera. Start creating with whatever you have access to. Network, volunteer, get involved with your local co-op, media artist associations.”

We’re so grateful to our STORYHIVE community, and the Black creators who enrich our media landscape with the works they produce. 

Celebrate Black History Month with Us

Most recently, STORYHIVE has funded 30 future filmmakers as part of our Black Creators Edition, in partnership with the Black Screen Office. Learn more here.

To continue celebrating Black excellence in the film sector, find our YouTube playlist for recommended viewing for Black History Month, and beyond here

Creator Talks
Posted onFeb 24, 2022
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