Interview with Filmmaker/Performer Akil McKenzie (HISTORIANS)

HISTORIANS played to rave reviews at the May 2021 DANCE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

– It was less of a choice… and felt like something that needed to be done. With covid at a high, a lot of Black-story based productions at the time didn’t have opportunity to be created. And with Black History Month nearing, and a message that needed to be delivered, we took it upon ourselves to express something that we know people needed to hear. It was meant to provide understanding for those who didn’t have knowledge on what it was feeling like for us going through this…but also as a symbol of hope for those who are. To see that the discussion wasn’t just a trend and to prove that there are still people trying to do something about the current issues that the film touched on was very important.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

3 months! And the poem was written in an hour.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

“Necessary” and “hope”

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The emotional toll / burden of wondering whether the film would give proper representation to lives that have been lost and the family members of those lives. I truly wanted to make sure that the content paid full respects to who the film was truly about.

Other than that though…Covid…Covid definitely made it WAY more difficult to physically produce the film because the shoot day is drastically slowed down by all of the precautions that needed to be in place.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was honoured. The initial film was attached to an initiative and movement… so whenever it was talked about… the discussion was primarily based around the message. Whilst listening to the audience feedback, they also addressed the message and what the film’s intent was…but they also spoke about it as “a short film”. And it was very nice to have that perspective…to hear opinions about how it was filmed, and what the dancing portrayed, and the work of the crew… absolute honor.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Haha! I was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old…but it was the first time I saw Charlie’s Angels (2000). And I was like “woowwwww this is so fun and so cool! I could make stuff like this!” I was always into movies…but that was the moment I was like “…maybe I could do that?” It was also the moment I fell in love Lucy Liu hahahaha.

7. Do you have a favorite dancer?

Under the assumption we’re talking about the film… I didn’t have a favourite of our dancers because each brought a different style that I thought was important to expressing culture, roots, and emotion. BUT. If we’re talking about dancers in general… I really love Fik Shun and Jabbawockeez

8. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Unbreakable and Train To Busan!!
My two favourite movies of all time.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I find the platform is SO lovely because it simplifies the process so much. Having to redo all of the steps you do on that platform would be so troublesome that it would deter me from wanting to submit to multiple festivals because of the time it would take.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I love lasagggggna and if we end with cheesecake????? Ugh. Easy marriage proposal.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

There’s a lot next! I’m giving myself room to explore creatively… so I actually want to drop an EP, I want to start performing more of my spoken words, and I want to be able to make another film soon too. All within a year! Feel free to follow @akil.mckenzie on instagram to see it happen 😀

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