BLACK STAINS won BEST FILM at the July 2020 Experimental Film Festival.
What motivated you to make this film?
Trent D. Williams, Jr (TDW: From personal experience not seeing a lot of films surrounding the African-American male experience through dance. This film looks at different the African-American male experience in a multigenerational sense by capturing their lived experiences.
Tiffany Rhynard (TR): I saw a story that I believed needed to be told. I make work that addresses injustice and inequity in modern society, and I want to humanize stories that are otherwise suppressed, marginalized or narrowly represented. When I saw Trent’s choreography, I saw the potential for strong storytelling through film. Addressing racial justice is a matter of life and death, and showing the lived experience of African-American men is beautiful and normal and necessary.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
TDW: I believe it was a year and half. Tiffany and I had different preliminary showings to get feedback and hearing different stories surrounding this film.
TR: We started pre-production in spring 2015 and we locked picture fall 2018. It was a sporadic production process because of our dense schedules.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
TDW: Timeless Teaching would be the two words to describe this film.
TR: Poetic honesty
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
TDW: Time and resources – I believe these were our biggest obstacle we faced in completing this film.
TR: Yes, agreed…time and resources. Trent and I both have full time jobs and our collaborators are also busy artists in the world. Filmmaking is expensive and involves a lot of people. We were a very small crew, but it still demands funding resources to get it across the finish line.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Farai Malianga (FM): The feedback was kind and gracious and I appreciate everyone that took part. I thought there was going to be more direct questions but since the feedback was more conceptual the main thing that stood out was the use of the word culture. I think it is super important that everyone remembers that our socio-political reality as Black People in America is not our Culture. Our culture is in our African-American social structures art, music and scientific accomplishments. Racism is a part of American economic culture and Police brutality is an extension of that. Since I don’t feel it was the intention of the speakers I just want to make that distinction for clarity.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
TDW: Personal lived experiences as an African-American male in today’s society.
TR: Seeing one of Trent’s solo performances and conversations with him about a new work he was choreographing with students at University of Florida where I was teaching with him at the time. There were numerous locations around my home that I identified as strong settings for this story.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
TDW: The Color Purple is a film I have seen the most in my life.
TR: Cinema Paradiso, an Italian film I saw in my youth that instilled the power of storytelling in film for me.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
TR: I use Film Freeway all the time to submit to film festivals. I personally like the platform and find it convenient and easy to use.
9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
TDW: A Song for You by Donny Hathaway
TR: when I was younger I listened to albums on repeat, which I don’t do much as anymore, but my answer would have to be Purple Rain by Prince.
10. What is next for you? A new film?
TDW: Hopefully, another film that is entrench in the African-American male experience. There is a need for more films surrounding this African-American male experience.
TR: I am currently working on several film projects: Not My Enemy, a docu-dance short film focusing on mental health issues impacting African-American veterans fighting two wars while serving in the Vietnam War. I am co-directing and co-producing with the choreographer, Kehinde Ishangi and Farai Malianga is also composing music for the film. I’m also close to completion on a feature length choreo-poem with filmmaker Millicent Johnnie titled Ma Negresse. The narrative tells the story of a Black author who knowingly conjures mystical spirits and fights to overcome past harrowing traumas through the celebration of her matriarchs. AND I can’t wait to start a new project with Trent, we have been starting to brain storm next steps. Let’s keep telling stories that need to be sung and seen!