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Upcoming Shows Featuring Diversity

There is no doubt that Coronavirus is and should be at the front of our minds right now. When you leave your house, one of the first things you ask yourself is “did I bring my mask with me?”  Given the current administration’s approach to flattening the curve, it seems like we all might be asking ourselves that question for a while. However, we do not have to let it be the only thing on which we focus as we set in for the long road to better days. Every day there is news of progress happening in the entertainment industry. We are seeing a much-needed change in the diversity of stories, talent, and crew happening across the board.  In this week’s blog, we want to highlight some of the upcoming projects that are working towards making Hollywood a more inclusive environment. 

 

Inclusivity in the entertainment industry is the foundation of what Film Connx stands for and we are proud to be able to showcase art that reflects just that. Enjoy!

 

One Perfect Shot

Danielle Levitt, August Images

It was recently announced that Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Filmworks and Warner Horizon will be teaming up to create a docu-series inspired by the popular twitter account One Perfect Shot. The account posts an image or gif from a particular movie deeming it the “perfect” shot from the film. The docuseries will be titled the same name as the account and be made for HBO Max. DuVernay is one of the executive producers of the series and she will narrate as well. She has an impressive record of creating diversity on the sets she’s involved in, so we expect to see the same for this project. The main buzz surrounding this project is mass intrigue regarding how the show will be handled, given the popularity of the original twitter account. Our understanding is that the focus will be on the entire scene instead of just one particular image. Each subsequent episode will have an acclaimed director extensively create a visual of how they pulled off their most memorable shot. We look forward to seeing the lineup of directors and hope that they consciously choose to diversify who tells the stories

Malcolm & Marie

First Look: Malcolm & Marie

Another huge buzz in Hollywood was the announcement of Malcolm & Marie. This film was secretly made entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the first to be successfully made. The film stars two household names – Zendaya and John David Washington – who also executive produced the film alongside rapper Kid Cudi. While there is little released about the film, our sources say that it “has some echoes of Netflix’s Marriage Story’” Given that, and the fact it is also linked to Euphoria showrunner Sam Levinson, this could be an interesting story depicting black love in real, raw, and positive ways which seems to be a storyline missing from mainstream Hollywood. It will also be intriguing to see the film’s cinematography, considering the restrictions it faced due to the pandemic. We are starting to see the pandemic’s limiting effects, as we notice more zoom-like confessionals in reality tv or facetime calls placed in scripted shows. Even though Malcolm & Marie quarantined its entire cast and crew during shooting, we expect to see fewer minor characters/ extras than usual.

The Upper World

AP; Netflix

Netflix has recently been granted the film rights to Femi Fadugba’s debut novel The Upper World, which has Queen & Slim’s Daniel Kaluuya attached to produce and star. The Upper World is described as a sci-fi taken to the next level, as it follows the main character, Esso, caught in a deadly feud on the brink of extinction before discovering a gift. A generation away, another character is about to meet a stranger who needs her help in averting a bullet fired 15 years ago. The book is said to have sparked a series for this debut author which could open up more deals for Netflix as well. We’ll have to wait to see how this unfolds, but given the diverse set of viewpoints and backgrounds we have high hopes for this one.

Between the World and Me

Courtesy of D'Andre Michael; Harpo Inc./Ruven Afanador; Benjo Arwas/HBO

HBO adaptation of Between the World and Me is already generating buzz due to its star-studded cast and incredible time on stage. Angela Bassett (Black Panther), Alicia Garza (Black Futures Lab), Joe Morton (Scandal), Phylicia Rashad, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Courtney B. Vance (The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story), Pauletta Washington (Genius: Aretha), Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us), and Oprah Winfrey (Wrinkle In Time) are the first to be cast. The film will be directed by Kamilah Forbes, who also directed the Apollo Theater version. Our sources say that this adaptation will combine elements of the stage version along with readings from the original book authored by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book is written as a letter to Coates’ son about growing up in Baltimore’s inner city and addressing his fears about the violence against the black community. Extensive discourse on this subject might not have been deemed acceptable just a few years ago for mainstream Hollywood, and having the backing of such high-profile stars and a serious network is a step in the right direction. This combination, and the current climate, allow for authentic stories to reach more than just the community to which it directly relates. The story’s exposure to a bigger audience who can learn from it and grow as individuals, is what most filmmakers strive to achieve. Although there is no official release date for the project, the production has taken place under COVID-19 guidelines and is expected to debut sometime this Fall on both HBO and its streaming service HBO Max.

Between the World and Me

AP; Courtesy of Seth Olenick

In a developing story, our sources tell us that a new untitled Netflix rom-com is set to be made soon. Award-winning artist Alicia Keys is said to be a producer and Christina Milian, Jay Pharoah, and Sinqua Walls are to star in the film. The story follows an aspiring pop star who ends up as the entertainment at her ex-fiancé’s wedding. The story then follows her journey of possibly rekindling her relationship and deciding if she will sing at their wedding or her own. The film is to be directed by Steven Tsuchida, who has directed episodes for Dear White People, Younger, and On My Block, which falls perfectly in line with the tone of this film. With such diversified backgrounds from the actors to screenwriters, this production is set up for success and we will be following this story for developments.

Overall....

Getty Images

Hollywood is taking a step in the right direction but is it the biggest step it could take? Although we have mentioned several films made and lead by POC there have also been several announcements made for films that are so undiversified it is laughable. It was announced on August 13th that Netflix’s trailer for The Devil All the Time had been released. Upon review, it is uncomfortably blatant that this film did not take diversity into account for its cast and crew. While the film is adapted from the 2011 book of the same name which is set in post-World War II, the excuse feels lackluster. Hollywood can and needs to do better, instead of funding period-pieces that call for an all-white cast for “historical accuracy”, why not fund diversified stories or give more creative liberties to allow for minority actors to fill such roles? Hulu’s The Great does an impressive job of this. The limited series is set in the 18th century Russia yet has POC characters throughout the show because the story is much less about “historical accuracy” and much more about bigger themes such as love, revenge, and resilience. Of course, even The Great can improve but it is a step further than The Devil All the Time.

 

So how do we make our voices heard as the audience? We start by backing our dollars and interest in the stories who are trying to make a change, watching The Upper Side over The Devil All the Time. We support smaller minority filmmakers by sharing their work and spreading their message. At Film Connx, we make sure potential minority crew members are given a chance to be considered in the process of finding and hiring for productions. We will not have real change until we see diversity in front of and behind the camera.

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