Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Only Tyler Perry Is Making Black Movies....!" Oh Really?

Perception is reality! And for many seemingly intelligent movie- goers Tyler Perry is indeed the black director du jour. Even with the recent, "Think Like A Man," and "Jumping The Broom" successes, an avid movie viewer I recently talked with said, "Only Tyler Perry is making black movies!"

Of course, my response was swift! I couldn't let the man think for one more second the black film world rests solely on Mr. Perry's big shoulders. So I weighed in like actress Journee Smollett in "The Great Debators"!

But before you ask on what planet this man's been watching movies, consider that he probably represents a large portion of the black movie audience that knows little about non-studio films.

Thanks to huge marketing budgets promoting studio films, audiences learn about them months in advance. Then opening weekend people generally head to the box office. But there seems to be a growing number of the African-American audience that relies heavily on DVD, internet downloads, and cables' video on demand to see the films marketed to them.

Undoubtedly, our film viewing habits are changing. But it's not just black folks, it's everybody. Why spend nearly $30 or more at the theater when your can spend $3.99 at home for the same movie? I digress...

Still with so many film viewing options, why did THIS movie lover--who lives next door to Hollywood--think and even dare say that Tyler Perry is the ONLY African-American director producing successful films right now? Maybe being so close to Hollywood influenced his perception.

Many great indy black films are made OUTSIDE the Hollywood system now. Most lack the huge marketing and promotion budgets of studio films and don't have "name"actors. So, there's no press release, a lot of posts by high traffic blogs, nor black publication write ups to promote them.  Thus, the general black movie audience knows nothing about them.

These films rely heavily on traditional word-of-mouth and the internet, especially social media marketing and email, as promotional tools. And when used strategically, actually work! But my film friend doesn't spend as much time on the internet as I do. His perception is his reality.

So how does one change the perception of the "too many" that think only one man is successfully making black movies and good ones?

Those of us "in the know" that work in and around black film really have our work cut out for us! It appears we've got to do better at communicating and sharing information BROADLY, outside of our own artsy cliques, environments, and surroundings.

That said here's a list of my favorite resources of black film, many of which I've blogged about. This is NOT a definitive list but a good start! And for those of you already in the know, PLEASE share this post with those who are not!

Black filmmaking is "hot" right now especially outside the Hollywood system. You just have to know where to look! 

  •  iTunes
  • YouTube (Kind of hit or miss)
  • Hulu (Great for documentaries)
For you adding to your black film DVD libraries, visit a movie retailer in a black neighborhood. For those of you not close to a predominantly black area, don't hesitate to ask for films you hear about. If stores don't think there's a demand for black films, they won't stock them.  That ain't racism, that's simple economics of supply and demand.

If I've missed a resource of black films and filmmaking please let me know in the comments below. Tell me too how you hear about black movies most. I'm eager to learn of new resources and sharing them!

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