Listen to this article here
Oklahoma was once home to over fifty all Black towns and settlements where Black communities were able to flourish and establish incredible wealth. Today, only a handful of these towns remain and most lack sufficient resources to maintain and thrive as they once did. Many fear one day they will all be gone. But with the rise of the film industry in Oklahoma, one Black filmmaker plans to change this.
Mylrell Miner is a Hollywood filmmaker who recently moved his family to Oklahoma. He’s the director for an upcoming film titled “Bromont.” He also served as production manager for the 2019 film “American Skin.” Currently, remodeling is underway for film training facilities and studios in both Tulsa and Taft to revitalize economic freedom of the surrounding communities and preserve Oklahoma’s rich history, Miner told The Black Wall Street Times.
Miner, who has partnered with the town of Taft , a historic all-Black town of Oklahoma, is opening the first Black-owned studio/soundstage and training facility in the State. Miner and his brother Samuel, who he attributes his success by providing early seed money, hopes to put Taft back on the map. The Miner Brothers are also restoring the original town of Taft not only to preserve the town’s history, but also film on site.
In an interview with The Black Wall Street Times, Miner detailed the passion that drives his work, what he hopes to achieve, and how others can support his efforts.
Black filmmaker wants to change the narrative
D: Why is it important to revive these Black towns through film production?
M: “Black towns represent a forgotten era in our history, an era that showcases stories of tremendous wealth, success and unified community. One of the most destructive forces enacted on the Black community is this forced narrative of powerlessness and trauma.
By empowering the stories and voices of our community with access, we can rewrite this narrative and create a space for proper representation in media and film. Oklahoma’s all-Black towns stand as an impactful foundation for what can be accomplished, especially when factoring in the time and age of these communities in comparison to the resources and technology available now.
Reviving these historical towns through film production will do much more than provide tangible benefits — it will greatly impact the minds and attitudes of all oppressed communities, most importantly younger generations, and present a narrative rooted in capability, power, community, and creativity as opposed to the harmful narrative that reigns supreme in American film and media.”
Film program gives training, jobs to overlooked communities
In Tulsa, Mylrell has partnered with other local Black entrepreneurs and will be opening a training facility in the developing area of West Tulsa. The facility will be a hub for Miner’s non-profit Bromont Program, which connects formerly incarcerated individuals with training and jobs in the film industry. The facility will also house a theater, gallery, and center for other community programs run by partners Kujanga Jackson, David Harris, and Gary Sylva.
D: What do you hope to achieve looking back ten years from now?
M: “Ten years from now, I hope to see several of the once forgotten all-Black towns revived and thriving as self-sufficient communities. I envision people from all over the country traveling to Oklahoma, visiting these towns to learn about our true history and being inspired to continue creating change.I would like for disadvantaged communities of Oklahoma to have a great position inside the growing film industry and see the African American community properly represented both in front of and behind the camera.
I hope to have a successful production studio here in Oklahoma that will act as a beacon for the underrepresented to tell their stories and have their voices be heard.The Bromont Program provides free hands-on film training and mentorship to underserved communities, while also equipping them with a space that nurtures various creative outlets inside the film industry.”
Creator and Executive Director Mylrell Miner started the program to give a voice to the marginalized and empower their testimonies through the art of writing, storytelling and expression. By providing the disenfranchised with life skills, job training, and access to opportunities, the program strives to transform the inequalities of not only their stories, but also their lives.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s generous film rebate incentive program has caused productions to flock to the state and as a result, created more employment opportunities in and outside of film. However some communities don’t have access or training to take advantage of these opportunities.
Preserving rich history through a Black lens
Inspired by the story of Black Wall Street’s Greenwood community and the affluence of Oklahoma’s all-Black towns, Mylrell Miner aims to tell the overlooked stories of the midwest through the voices and talents of those within these communities today. As a writer and filmmaker himself, the self-described “Tyler Perry of Oklahoma” will use his TV show to tell the stories of some of Oklahoma’s impactful figures and spark renovation in all of the remaining historical Black towns.
D: How can people get involved with Bromont? Are only formerly incarcerated individuals invited to join the program? If so, how do they join?
M: “In LA, our program mainly focused on the formerly incarcerated. However, the Bromont space in West Tulsa is open to anybody from a marginalized community, not just the formerly incarcerated. We are currently seeking support in the rebuild and for the program in general. Anyone who is interested in being a part of the Bromont Program, either as a participant or volunteer, can email firstname.lastname@example.org . Those interested in donating can do so here: https://www.bromontprogram.org/donate.”
In telling the stories of Oklahoma’s rich and influential Black history, Miner hopes the world will see these communities through a new powerful and innovative lens. More importantly, these communities themselves will reap in more ways than one from the all-encompassing industry of film.
“All are able and welcome to participate in this collective mission of revitalizing the economic freedom of disenfranchised Oklahoma communities and preserving this rich American history,” Miner said.