A Conversation with Naimah Fuller – Producer of Upcoming Film
A Place Called Home – The Documentary Movie CLICK HERE TO VIEW MOVIE TRAILER NAIMAH FULLER is the producer/writer/director of this incredible documentary. Five years in the making, the savvy producer has finally completed principle photography and is currently in the post production editing phase of the project, with a release date set for 2011. HOME - THE DOCUMENTARY MOVIE explores the mass migration of African Americans relocating to the southern regions of the U.S. in the turn of the 21st century. This mass migration reflects the historical Great Migration that took place during the mid-twentieth century nearly seven million black folks left the south and moved to the north and the west. The project asks the poignant question: What is causing this 21st century mass migration of African Americans to leave the north, the mid-west, and the west coast to relocate to the southern regions of the country. Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman, are among those who share their migration stories.
AAM: It’s an honor to interview you. Thank time to speak with us. Tell us about your you grow up in a creative home?
you for taking the upbringing. Did
N. Fuller: My father was a photographer, but discovered his creativity, he was on to more endeavors, like providing for our family. So during my upbringing years, what I observed creative my family was as entrepreneurs rather
by the time I practical creative regarding creativity most was how than artists.
AAM: You were raised by your greatWhat was that like? Dr. Maya Angelou
N. FULLER: Both my grandmother‟s were deceased before I was born, so my great-grandmothers took their place in my life. I spent various periods of my early childhood between these two women. Being a child of divorced parents, my great-grandmothers were very involved in my life as a small child. I was showered with so much love from these two women. So it was about love, it was also about spirituality, in that I was introduced to prayer and faith and tapping in a High Power. And it was also about learning how to be in the world. How to have respect for my elders, how to sit at the table and eat properly, how to treat others with respect, and how to hold my own head up and be proud of myself. In essence, I was given a strong foundation of self-esteem by both my great-grandmothers. CLICK HERE for Budget
Just being around Mr. Parks was a great inspiration to me. He set the professional bar for me on every level. – Naimah Fuller
AAM: What was your greatest inspiration for pursuing a career in film? N. FULLER: My greatest inspiration for pursuing a career in film was the excitement of being on a movie set of a Warner Bros. Production or Paramount Pictures production. When I got into film there were very few African Americans working in that industry. It was the end of the Blackploitation era, and going into the 80‟s was a time of change for blacks in the motion picture business. So it was very exciting to be able to walk onto a movie set and be part of that collaborative creative filmmaking process AAM: How did you feel after your first month of film school? If you remember, what was required of you? N. FULLER: My major in college was Commercial Photography. My interest in photography was part of my DNA, because my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather were all photographers. However, as fate would have it after I completed my photography courses, I immediately moved to NYC, and began working with Gordon Parks. Just being around Mr. Parks was a great inspiration to me. He set the professional bar for me on every level. Not only was he a successful photographer, he was a filmmaker, a writer, and a composer of music. So the whole filmmaking school process was not how I entered the life of a filmmaker. My entrance to filmmaking was through “old-school”, rather than film school. However I did have some formal filmmaking training for short period at the Studio Museum In Harlem. The interesting thing about the majority of people who are in the motion picture business even today, most of them never went to “film school”. The old saying “it‟s not what you know, but who you know,” is how the entertainment industry operates more often than not. Similar to the music industry; I doubt if most of the rappers or and R & B and even Pop artists that we follow, ever went to music school. Name any one of them: Jay Z, Beyonce, Sting. So my training in the craft of filmmaking was not from a formal classroom experience, all though I did go back to school after I was already in the business. I would dare say, that even the people who started the film industry probably didn‟t even have a high school diploma (lol). Filmmaking is more entrepreneurial than academic. Gordon Parks (Above) Some of Mr. Parks photos below…
AAM: What was your first real job in journalism and documentary production? Tell us about that experience. N. FULLER: Wow! My career has by no means followed the usual course of trajectory into journalism or documentary filmmaking for that matter. By the time I began a career as a journalist, I had already worked in the motion picture business for several years in several capacities, including script supervisor, assistant director, director, producer, etc. I went from working on large movie productions to working in broadcast news at WABCTV in NYC. It was at WABC-TV that I began my career in journalism, during which I enrolled at the New School of Social Research to study journalism, and television production. WABC paid for my education, so I took advantage of it. But my first real documentary project was a film I did on my mentor Gordon Parks during his production in Texas of Leadbelly the historically famous folk and blues singer, for Paramount Pictures. That project ultimately received several awards including Best Writer and Best Producer of a Documentary Film. AAM: Tell us about A Place Called Home: The Great Migration of The 21st Century N. FULLER: Home began as an observation of a paradigm shift that I found myself in middle of. That shift was the migration of black folks moving en mass to the south at the beginning of the 21st century, of which I was part because I had just moved from New York City to Atlanta. At first the filmmaker in me wanted to capture the whole concept of Atlanta as the new Mecca. But as I continued to explore the project of documenting people relocating to Atlanta, I soon realized that it much more than that. That‟s when the journalist in me began to see the bigger picture. That in fact, what I was actually experiencing was a Great Migration, much like the Great Migration of the mid 20th century when over six million black people moved away the south, to the north and the west, in the largest mass migration of any ethnic group in the history of this nation. Those people had no idea that they were making history, and that their migration experience would re-shape the concept of “urban-life” in America. As I pursued the HOME project – I realized that history was repeating itself in a reversal of trends, as black people were relocating and moving back to the south in even larger numbers than had occurred in the previous Great Migration, and are in fact re-shaping what is becoming the New South. That is in essence of what HOME – THE DOCUMENTARY MOVIE is about. The real title of the project is A PLACE CALLED HOME – THE GREAT MIGRATION OF THE 21ST CENTURY
It takes a lot of courage to pick up and move your life to a completely unfamiliar environment, especially to the South… AAM: You’re working with some heavy weights in this movie – Dr. Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover - how did that come about? N. FULLER: How that came about was from years of being a producer and being an independent filmmaker. It is what I call being an „entrepreneurial filmmaker”. In other words, as the producer, you simply make it happen. Danny Glover is someone whom I had the privilege of working with on previous project in the development of a screenplay I wrote that Danny was interested in developing and producing. As far as his involvement in the HOME project, was through Divine intervention. I was in Texas shooting at a FEMA rescue encampment during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and Danny was happened to be there in support of the people who had been displaced during the hurricane. After a brief conversation, he agreed to let me include him in my project, and we just starting shooting. Morgan‟s involvement happened in a more formal way. I read an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about Morgan moving back to Mississippi. The article talked about how he had returned to Mississippi where he was born and raised, and that he had open a blues club, etc. After reading that article I knew I had to get him involved in the project. So one morning after saying a few prayers, I picked up the phone and called his club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. That phone call led to me driving from Atlanta to Clarksdale, to meet him at his blues club, Ground Zero, only to discover he wouldn‟t be there. But with some persistence, and the help of his business partner Bill Luckett, Morgan and I eventually met and the rest is history. So I would say it was Divine intervention and a little tenacity on my part that resulted in Morgan Freeman‟s contribution to the project. A similar scenario occurred with Dr. Angelou, whom I had no previous contact with. But I had several friends and associates who knew her well. In particular Rev. CT Vivian was my initial introduction to Dr. Angelou. Ultimately, it was Judge D‟Army Bailey of Memphis, Tennessee, who actually made a phone to Dr. Angleou, and from there I was invited to her home in Winston-Salem for the first of many trips that followed and allowed me not only have her involvement in my project but to also establish a relationship with her. But again, prayer and persistence opened the door. This project has been blessed, and I have been equally blessed to be its steward. I could go on and on how I have been blessed to get the support so many incredible people for this project. Including Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. CT Vivian, Mayor Shirley Franklin, Judge D‟Army Bailey, jazz great Terence Blanchard, India Arie, T.I, but just importantly, all the unsung people whose courageous spirits have given them a vision of re-creating their lives in the south, in spite of the south‟s notorious history of blatant racism.
It takes a lot of courage to pick up and move your life to a completely unfamiliar environment. Especially, to the south where historically, black people have experienced enormous pain and loss of life from the terrorism associated with the apartheid policies of Jim Crow laws. So the film is about renewel, hope and healing, and about re-shaping our history as we live out Dr. King‟s “promised land” prophecy. AAM: What do you hope to communicate with this movie? N. FULLER: My hope is that this movie will show that as Dr. Angelou states, that black people in America have not only survived, but have thrived in spite of all the challenges we have overcome, including slavery, Jim Crow, and so on. I hope to also illustrate how the Civil Rights Movement continues to play a role in the lives of African Americans, in ways that even Dr. King himself probably never imagined. As Rev. CT Vivian so eloquently put it: “Had it not been for the Civil Rights Movement there would not be this migration back.” So my hope is to show the world how black people in the United States are continuing to make huge contributions in re-shaping the south, and making the new south a destination not just for African Americans who are returning to their ancestral homeland in this country, but is also a place where people from around the globe feel safe and at home. AAM: What has been the response to the project? N. FULLER: The response thus far has been extremely positive. People are very interested in the film because so seldom do we have an opportunity to view of our lives in a context other than as socially dysfunctional, or in sports and entertainment. People are interested in seeing our diversity, and this film offers that picture. Even though there are a few famous people in the film, the majority of the people who contributed to the project are not famous, but are real life people whose courage and determination have lead them on a path of renewal, which is what the migration experience is all about. AAM: What are other projects you have in the works? N. FULLER: Aside from this project, which I am currently in the editing process at this time, I am also in the process of editing the manuscript of my first novel. In addition, I am very involved in the endeavors of other entrepreneurs through services I provide through my company Earthlight Media.
AAM: You have created a media company. Tell us about it. N. FULLER: The company is Earthlight Media Arts & Services, LLC, which I established in 2004. What started out as primarily a video service company has evolved into a multimedia consulting company that provides marketing and promotion services to online businesses. Right now the company primarily assists small business owners in establishing an on-line presence through creating various tools that drive business to their products and services, including website design, video production, marketing and promotion plans and strategies. 13. What are new areas you want to conquer? N. FULLER: What new areas do I want conquer? I want to conquer being a better human being, and to continue to grow as an artist. I also hope to conquer the challenge of living well and having a life of purpose without having to pursue extreme levels of monetary wealth. I think so much emphasis is being placed on gaining monetary wealth, so much so that people are missing the boat on the wealth to found in the Art of Living. What I have during of doing this project is that, it is not money that determines how successful our life are, but moreover it is how we see ourselves in the world. When individuals realize that they don‟t have to be a Donald Trump or a Jay Z to have a place in the world to be happy with who they are. So I am in continuous pursuit of creating a place for myself in the world that I feel good about as an artist and as a human being, while I continue to negotiate the tremendous shifts that are taking place in the world around me. AAM: Are marriage and family in the plan for you now or in the future? N. FULLER: Family is an ongoing part of my life. As far as the future goes regarding marriage; who can say what the future will bring. I pray for a happy life that I can share with someone in whatever way it presents itself. I am open to all the wonderful possibilities that await me. AAM: What do you love about your life? N. FULLER: I love that I am alive, that I am healthy, I love that my creativity continues to flow and evolve with the times. I love the people in my life, my friends and my family, and I am very enamored by the Facebook phenomenon and all the incredible people I have met and continue to met on a daily bases. It is totally mind blowing when one actually gets to interact in a meaningful way with human beings from the around the globe. It‟s awesome. So I have admit l am loving my Facebook experience, for what it‟s worth. AAM: And lastly, what do you know for sure? N.FULLER: I know for sure that I am alive and I am blessed. These two things I know for sure. Learn more about Naimah Fuller’s work by visiting http://sites.google.com/site/theplacecalledhome/aplacecalledhome Article courtesy Authors & Artists Magazine – Dec. 2010 – www.authorsandartistsmag.com .