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Founded by Lande Yoosuf and Reggie Williams, Black Film Space is committed to building a community of filmmakers of African descent through skill enhancing and community building events.
A collective of directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, actors and other media makers, Black Film Space (BFS) is a place for Black creatives to call home whether virtually or in-person.
The Black Wall Street Times discussed with Williams and Yoosuf about what they’re doing to catapult Black storytellers to the forefront of film.
Speaking on the conception of BFS, Lande says, “I was going to a lot of networking events and I would be the only Black person or one of two Black people. And Reggie was also working on sets and projects where he was at times the only Black person there so we wanted to identify where the Black people interested in film were in New York City.”
She continued, “Everyone seemed to be really spread out and hard to pin down and identify so we were like, ‘well, let’s cultivate a community’ and it kind of just happened organically where we invited friends. There was an apparent demand and need for it.”
Reggie, a self-described comedic screenwriter/director and a non-comedic non-profit executive, remembers the early days, “We decided to host an happy hour with our Black filmmaker colleagues. Once we hosted the happy hour, we had about 14 or 15 people show up afterward like, ‘When is the next one?’ So we did a screenwriting workshop about a month later, and then they were like, ‘What is the next event?'”
Born and raised in Boston, Reggie graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing For Film & TV. He added that Black filmmakers with BFS exist in a place where their experiences are not only shared, but can be developed with a wide array of cultural perspectives. He added, “There’s such a variety of Black people in our space, if you come to one of our workshops it’s not only going to be African Americans — you’re going to have Caribbean Americans, Afro-Latino’s, first and second generation Africans, and more so you’re going to get an array of feedback from the diaspora.”
Reggie, a Star Wars stan followed by a close second Annie Hall, is not only a fan of cinematic history, but industry history as well. He stated, “There are still effects from the last writer strike back in 2007. So if they start to tighten budgets, I believe the first people that they’re going to tighten budgets for would be Black people and people of color, which they’ve done historically.”
Lande, a Nigerian-American novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker has 15 years of production, development and casting experience in non-fiction programming, and has worked with several networks, including MTV, A&E Networks, NBC, WEtv, and Bravo.
Regarding the lack of blockbuster Black movies in Hollywood, Lande commented, “I think the industry is afraid to take a shot on new voices, new ideas, new concepts because of the saturation of content and the fear that they have that if they take a swing and it flops, they’re gonna have to pay for it monetarily.”
Lande, a fan of everything from Goodfellas to Friday to Claudine to A Beautiful Mind, is currently developing a mixed slate of feature films, documentaries and television pilots through her production company, One Scribe Media.
Once a novice herself, Lande encourages Black people of all experience levels to find a home with BFS. “We’ve had people come to our workshop that have never read or written a script before. They just know that they like to watch. They want to do this even if they don’t know how they’re gonna do, and before you know it they blossom and become established staff writers, make their first short film and things like that.”
Lande spoke on the value of Black scripts being reviewed by Black eyes along with the realities that come with working in the White-male dominated industry. “It just goes to show you that there’s so many other Black people going through the same feelings of isolation. In these spaces, even if you’re around people who are well intentioned, they’re just not from your background. They don’t understand your stories, when I took writing classes, I’d receive good feedback on my writing, but the writing feedback that I get from the Black community is so much more rich, so much more in depth, so much more focused — and it’s because we share identity.”
Black Film Space has upcoming events curated for the culture
On May 18, 7-10 P.M. at Juke Bar (196 2nd Avenue, East Village, NY 10003) interested attendees can RSVP and join other Black Film Space newbies and day one members at their next mixer.
Virtual Screenwriting Workshop
On May 25, 7-8:30 P.M. EST, screenwriters can join Black Film Space for the next signature screenwriting workshop where they will read one 10 to 15 page script and offer constructive feedback in an open (Zoom) forum setting.
8 Week TV Pilot Course
The Black Film Space 8 Week Virtual TV Pilot Course will prepare screenwriters for all stages of storytelling, pitching and marketing themselves as screenwriters.
Taught by Spade Robinson, classes begin on June 5 and 6 and will be held on Zoom Mondays & Tuesdays, 7-10 P.M. EST. This course will consist of detailed lectures, workshops and one-on-one attention.
Find out more about Black Film Space here.
This interview was edited for brevity.