Capital Gains

The diversity issue within the context of the Oscars nominations is a hot button topic that has caught the country's imagination over the past week. The passionate discussion has made some impact with the Academy recently announcing a new diversity initiative to help address this glaring issue. The focus of the conversation has extended from the habits and demographics of the  voting members of the Academy to the sharp insight from Wesley Morris who astutely points out the institutional racism found in studio campaigns for their Oscars contenders. I agree with and support these assessments, but there is a far more fundamental issue that both exists as a cause for these Oscars missteps and greatly reflects the prevailing attitude towards Black film in America. That issue is lack of access to capital. I immediately acknowledge that securing funding for a film for many filmmakers across the board is an incredibly tough task. This process is even more difficult for filmmakers who reside outside of the mainstream, which for the purpose of this post is defined as white, heterosexual males. And to be clear, this is not meant to bash or pile on mainstream filmmakers. The intent is to discuss why there isn't more of a representative balance of stories that are being made, supported and marketed to the American public. 

If you look at the the roster of Black films that have been at Sundance over the last few years you will notice a theme. None of these films have significant budgets. In fact, the majority, if not all, are made for under a million dollars. Some of these films are graduate school thesis films. If you look at the web series world, successful projects like Money and Violence are made on the cheap, but boast huge loyal audiences. The inane idea that there isn't enough talent that can create strong films and engage audiences is simply not true. These projects are maximizing their potential with limited resources. So why don't these filmmakers and others have the opportunity to secure larger budgets?

A lot of it comes down to the idea of the niche film. Many Black films aren't viewed as a part of the everyday American experience. They aren't viewed by some investors and studios as a common human experience. They're viewed as the "other." And when you are viewed as the "other" your marketing strategy is narrow, sales projections (domestic and especially international) are depressed and your perceived ability to make profit is limited. And if this is the prevailing perception of your film's potential the chances of getting investments are slim. This is where the social and ethnic prejudice truly comes in. Instead of being treated as an expansion of the American storytelling canon, these films are placed in a box where an investor can say nobody wants to see them. As a result, many films don't get the funding to be made and lose a chance to make an impact. The opportunity to go on a successful festival run, box office run or even an Oscars run is eliminated. 

If the filmmaking community at large is truly interested in diversifying then we need to focus on ways to increase financial investments in diverse stories. This demands a fundamental shift in perception of non mainstream narratives. The talent is certainly there. When will the money be there?

P.S. Feel free to replace Black film with Latino film, Asian film, LGBT film, etc.

Creativity Isn't Just For The Screen

Keep on pushin'. This has been my daily mantra for the past two weeks. I'm in the middle of my first director for hire project and it is a dream come true in many ways. It is merging my two favorite loves: sports and film. Before considering that I'm merging these two loves, the simple fact that I can write director for hire is a huge blessing. There are many incredibly talented and hard working filmmakers out there looking for a chance to be hired solely as a director where that opportunity has alluded them to his point. I'm aware of this and I'm humbled and thankful for the opportunity. This chance has also been a big learning experience that will only make me better.

The main lesson I've learned is the demand to be creative for things behind the scenes. I would say that 99% of the time our creativity is focused solely on what we see on the screen. I'm reminded going through this process that you need just as much creativity on the logistical side to even have a chance at being creative on the artistic side. This is especially true in work for hire because there are so many more variables that are out of your control that you still have to manage. You have contractual obligations. There are accounting departments. There could be insurance complications you have to work through. All of these factors demand a creative approach to negotiate in a successful manner. You have to be able to assess the situation, detail your options and make a decisive choice. Nobody is gonna care that you have to get insurance from three different places. No one watching your film is gonna care how you logistically navigated through a production day. The only thing the audience wants is entertainment and education. That is it. The one silver lining is these are skills that make you a strong director on the artistically as well. The key is understanding that your job isn't limited to the fun stuff.

Fortunately, I surrounded myself with a really good team that is dedicated to making this project the best it can be. This fact isn't a new discovery for me, but rather an affirmation of how important it is to collaborate with good natured, talented and hard working people. It doesn't matter if you're directing a work for hire, a personal passion project or a random YouTube video. Make sure that your team is strong and is dedicated to bringing your full vision to life. Good luck.




Now Batting...Number 7

So I just ran across a picture of mine when I must have been three or four years old. In the picture I'm holding a wiffle ball bat and wearing a Yankees helmet (in the house mind you). Baseball is my number one love. It is the first thing that I fell for and it is the first thing that sparked my imagination. Looking at this picture I remembered the first daydream I ever had. I'm about to embarrass myself, but I don't care. When I was about six years old I made my mom buy me a catcher's mask. I loved catchers. They were the dopest players on the field because they had all of the catcher's gear, but the mask was my favorite. I would always guess if the catcher had a mustache or not when I would watch the game. If he had a mustache I hated him. I think I was drawn to the mask because I was painfully shy as a kid and I felt like you could hide behind it. I think that is the main reason why I loved Darth Vader as a kid (I also prefer villains over heros, but that is a different blog post). Anyway, I had this catcher's mask. I had a favorite vest that was grey, blue and red. And of course I had my Yankees hat and baseball glove. So every afternoon I would drag my babysitter Kim to the park. I wouldn't play with the other kids though. I wore my vest backwards like a chest protector, put on my mask, put on my glove and imagine I was the catcher for the Yankees and play a full blown myself. So here I am squatting down and calling balls and strikes with a pitcher, hitter and umpire who didn't exist. I would go to the bench when my team was up at bat. I can't imagine what I looked like to the other kids. I know Kim sat far away from me in the park. I won the World Series every afternoon. I really thought at the time that I was gonna play in the major leagues, but what I didn't realize was that I was building the foundation for the love that came into my life later on: film. I wouldn't trade those games in for anything. It made me who I am. I still think I'm a champion. I owe it to my younger self to never let that dream go.

An Important Reminder

I've had a long, but incredible week. That doesn't happen very much. Long weeks have become the norm, but to have such an affirming, inspiring, exciting and eye opening one certainly is not. There were a lot of events and media coverage of Spike's new film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. For those that don't know, I served as the editor on it. I was fortunate to be a part of some of this week's events and it has been humbling. I have been able to meet and reconnect with some wonderful, talented people while also forging some new relationships. I've also had the opportunity to share all of our hard work with the world, which is amazing. This week was also special because I witnessed my close friend Asaf Ganot's New York Fashion Week show for his fall/winter collection. Asaf asked me to shoot some backstage footage of the event. The creative energy and intensity was inspiring. It was educational. It set a standard. I've seen Asaf grow from a college student athlete to a professional basketball player to an innovative force in the fashion industry.

These moments are a great reminder of something that gets lost in the shuffle. The accomplishments and adulation are tremendous. It is why people pursue their passions, but the bigger thing may be the journey. I've reflected quite a lot this week and marveled at how the process has produced so many great things on so many levels. It makes us better people. It makes us better artists. It fosters larger communities comprised of people of all backgrounds and personal stories. The journey is the big payoff and I'm appreciative that this week reminded me of that.

Farewell Mr. Scott

I must admit that I am writing this with blurred vision as tears continue to stream down my cheek. I didn't wake up today anticipating writing this post. I learned, along with many others, that famed ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott passed away this morning from cancer at the age of 49. I must also admit that I did not anticipate feeling as emotional as I do right now. I remember sitting on my dad's couch with my sister watching Sportscenter one night. Stu Scott was on the show and by this time I was familiar with his distinct delivery of reporting the highlights. My sister wasn't really paying attention to the television until she heard "BOOYAH!" echo through the room. She jumped and asked who said that. I told her it was Stu. She sat in shock as this young black man spit our slang to describe a home run and pitching performance. We made it a point to watch Sportscenter together whenever Stu was on (especially when he was with his "TV Wife" Rich Eisen). We wanted to be in the conversation and he let us into his living room at ESPN. We saw ourselves in Stu.

Now looking at Stuart Scott's career through the lens of a filmmaker and not as a crazed sports fan, I truly understand his greatness. He was a groundbreaker. He was a pioneer for not simply being a lead Black male anchor, but also for performing with the courage to be himself in a conservative industry. The latter point will be his legacy. Regardless of race or gender, Stuart Scott showed young journalists that you could succeed by being damn good and being yourself. As a filmmaker looking to establish a firm career as a director, I have this internal debate of whether or not I should censor part of myself if it helps me to achieve some of my goals. Then I look on Stu's career and realize that is a bunch of bullshit. People are drawn to me because I don't hide who I am. I embrace myself much like Stuart did. I'm thankful for that lesson and I am thankful for him. He helped to make sports fun and he built the foundation that many of my favorite journalists walk on now. Thank you for your tremendous fight against cancer and thank you for winning that fight. You made many of us better people Stuart. RIP.


A Filmmaker's Thoughts on Ferguson

As all of you know, the grand jury's decision on the Michael Brown case was announced a few days ago. It was devastating, but expected. I believe Officer Darren Wilson murdered Michael Brown. I believe Darren Wilson should be behind bars. My beliefs have no bearing on his fate or that of Michael's family. I also believe that I have a responsibility to do something about this injustice. Some have taken to the streets and some have taken to social media. I must take it to film. And I don't mean making a movie about the case (of course that is always an option). This decision is a reminder of what my role is as a filmmaker. My intent is to question, challenge and engage mass audiences. My role as a director is to depict humanity in all of its honesty, complexity, beauty and conflict. And to be clear, I do not just mean for black people. I have had the privilege to share experiences with all types of people both domestically and internationally. I am by no means a cultural expert, but my world view is shaped by relationships with many great people and some not so great people. With that said, I refuse to stereotype and exploit who we are, but I do accept presenting the various facets of who we are. I assume the responsibility of wielding this influence with great care. I want to use my talents in a way that combat damaging depictions of people in mainstream media. I want to explore why people behave the way they do with the hopes of others getting a better understanding of one another. I want the world to be better and my contribution is through this dope medium of film. I hope you all continue to have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. Let's strive to be better. pamsson_logo

Omar Benson Miller: The Creative Fix

randyomar There are times when you meet a person and you know instantly they're going to have a big impact on your life for a long time. Omar Benson Miller is one of those people. I had the pleasure of working with Big O on the set of Miracle at St. Anna in Italy back in 2007. With the position I held on set, I was able to work with Omar pretty intimately so a friendship was born away from the camera. The things that impress me the most about him is his passion for the craft, his business sense, intelligence and humor. Simply put, Omar is the total package.

I had a chance to attend a screening for an episode of Omar's new show on the Esquire Network entitled "Weekend Fix." It is a dope travel show for millennials. Omar and his friend Andres, travel the country and build their weekend itineraries through social media interaction. You can see an episode of it here. What I took the most out of the viewing was how much effort and dedication Omar put into seeing his vision executed and distributed. We worked together on a pilot for another show that ran into a lot of roadblocks along the way. It had great potential, but the timing and situation wasn't right. To see him push through that setback and end up with something just as strong with the full commitment from an up and coming network is inspiring. The room for the screening was packed and the positive energy was evident. Omar didn't allow his creative spirit to be deterred and he ended up with a fantastic product with cherished experience. His perseverance has now put him in a position where he can build a strong brand AND pursue even greater artistic endeavors. It just goes to show that character is just as important as talent. Salute and congrats to Big O. 


Is It Good? Yes. Is It Great? ...

I hope this post finds you all well. With the great fortune that I've had professionally over the last year; I wanted to share some of the things I have learned because I believe it can make all of us better filmmakers, artists and people. As some of you may know, my career has taken a major turn over the last year. Since last October, I have served as one of Spike Lee's editors on numerous projects including "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," "Katt Williams: Priceless" and most recently "What Is The Triangle? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint." What I thought would be awesome to discuss is the ways in which you can take something that is good and turn it into something better, even great. I'm not offering a guarantee of course, but I am dropping a challenge. Will you do the things necessary to squeeze everything out of your project and yourself? This challenge isn't just for you, but myself as well. Lord knows, I need to get better with every project. Let's see where we end up. I used to believe that being great was achievable strictly on talent. You are either born with the ability to be great or you're not. I've realized in the past year that this is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. The first lesson learned is the sheer amount of labor and commitment it takes to maximize whatever it is you're working on. You can never be satisfied in the development process. You have to be meticulous and honest. Honest in the sense that if something isn't working you can't be married to it. You have to be willing to find a better solution and grind away until you find one.

One example is when I cut "Katt Williams: Priceless." Spike shot with eight cameras so the options were plenty. Being a young editor, working on my first project with so many cameras and working on a comedy special my natural tendency was to think on a macro level. What camera angle is the best for this part of the show and how long do I stay on it to help set up and deliver a joke? That makes sense right? Well, I quickly learned screening with Spike that you had to think on a Macro AND Micro level. What is going on in the corners of the frame, what is going on with the camera movement, how many times have we seen this angle in this amount of time. All of these factors mattered when making a decision on what we were going to see on the screen. It took a couple weeks repeatedly looking at the SMALL things before we arrived at a point where we exhausted all of the available footage. Looking back on it, I did a pretty good job at the beginning, but that meticulous attention to detail is what made it way better.

We all need to ask ourselves, have I done enough to make this as strong as this can be. Have I committed to it enough? Have I given myself enough TIME to see it all the way through? These are critical things we have to ask ourselves while we're thinking about visual strategies, budgets, marketing, fame and fortune. Have you thought about them enough?

Let me know what you think in the comments. I would love to hear from you all.


Da Sweet Blood of Randy

"What we can tell you is that it’s an artistic, cinematic experience by a genius movie director and completely open to interpretation. Suffice to say in this film, which is beautifully shot by Dan Patterson, meticulously edited by Randy Wilkins and wonderfully scored, its “less sacrilegious to drink blood, than to spill it...." - Black Enterprise, June 2014


What a journey the last ten months have been for me. Last August, I was an assistant editor working feverishly on Spike Lee's Mike Tyson Undisputed Truth while working equally as hard on a Seed and Spark crowdfunding campaign to raise money for our web series Docket 32357. Fast forward to today and I am the editor on Spike's new film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, while our web series has premiered online (see it here) receiving wonderful feedback from the public. I feel like I've matured by ten years in ten months. I can't really describe what I'm feeling at the moment because I am still in the middle of a whirlwind. I never thought my name would be mentioned in a film review by Black Enterprise for editing a legend's film. I quote honestly never thought I would create web based material allowing folks to binge watch a story that I love so much. It just goes to show how far persistence, hard work and commitment can get you. I hope the trend continues upward. I want to increase my impact and I want to inspire. I want to be a standard for artists and the general public. I feel really good about things right now and I feel even better that I'm surrounded by wonderfully talented people who push me every day. I hope you all get a chance to check out Da Sweet Blood of Jesus  when it hits theaters and check out the Docket 32357 Web Series now!

The Docket 32357 Crowdfunding Campaign

I have to be honest with all of you. I didn't expect or anticipate the success of the Docket 32357 short film. I knew the film was strong in all aspects of the craft, but I was privately unsure if people would like watching two women hold a conversation on a bench. It turns out that people were really interested. We were constantly asked what happens next. We were told by our audience that they wanted to see more. We decided we would satisfy that demand with a web series. We really feel strong about this narrative. One of the reasons is the focus on multi dimensional women characters. I'm really excited that Docket features two strong women leads in a dramatic series. But in order for this series to come to fruition we need a communal effort. We recently launched our crowd funding campaign through Seed and Spark. We have a wish list of all the essential items we need for production and post production. We have awesome incentives like tickets to our premiere, roles in an episode, cooking recipes from Lois and other great packages. We really want to foster a community with Docket and would love for you to be a part of it. Please consider backing us by clicking on this link

If you can't make a contribution please consider tweeting, emailing, facebooking (is that a word?) or even following us on the Seed and Spark page. Every little bit helps. Thank you very much.

Demand Your Best

I had a conversation yesterday with an up and coming actress who is taking her first step into the world of directing. She wanted to speak with me about my process creating Docket 32357 and my general thoughts on directing and film. I was flattered because I don't view myself as an expert on either one of those topics, but I knew I had experiences I could share. We ventured into the subject of web series. She had an immediate negative reaction when the discussion began. I understood her feelings on it. As we talked, I realized that the reason we both felt disappointed in many of the web based projects was laziness or more specifically, the absence of putting your best foot forward as a filmmaker.

I don't want to waste space by criticizing other people's work. That is not the purpose of this blog. What I would like to do is briefly touch upon the absolute need for filmmakers to maximize their current abilities with every project they undertake. I can't tell you the amount of times I've heard filmmakers raise perceived limitations for why they didn't create the work they envisioned. Some of my favorites are money, locations, bad relationships with crew members, "it's just a short" and "it's just for the web." In my mind, these are all opportunities to not only showcase your skills, but an opportunity to add to your toolbox. All of those limitations are potential contributing factors to creating work you didn't even imagine you could make. It all begins with the attitude that you're gonna demand your best regardless of the circumstances. There is no obstacle for that mindset other than yourself. 


Indiana Made wins an EMMY!

Last summer, Jeff Pinilla and I went on a research shoot to convince Jeff's bosses at PIX 11 in NYC that buying a RED camera would be beneficial for the creative services department. The shoot was simple. We would drive around various neighborhoods in the city and capture the architecture, people and details of the areas. We were under the impression we had the whole day to drive around and capture footage. It turned out that we only had an hour to get all of this done. Despite the time crunch, we captured some great stuff and figured we had a good shot at a successful pitch. What came out of it was more than I ever imagined. Jeff turned the footage into an impromptu spot for PIX entitled "New York Perspective." He wrote a beautiful script to accompany the visuals and the promo ran almost nonstop. The success of Perspectives caught the attention of the creative team at FOX 59 in Indiana. They were looking to create a dynamic campaign that connected their news team with the people of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns. Jeff and I spent a week in Indy capturing the beauty of the people and the city. What we ended up with was a spot named "Indiana Made."

I'm really happy to share the news that Indiana Made is the winner of a 2013 local Emmy. I never thought I would be considered for an Emmy, let alone a recipient of one. To be honest, the idea  never crossed my mind. It is a wonderful accomplishment that I am proud to achieve. It was just as special to work with the great people in Indy: Michael Brouder, Andrew Witham and Shelby Simpson. It was a pleasure working with you guys. If you want to see the promo along with New York Perspective you can click here.

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Docket 32357...The Web Series

The great thing about doing a short film is you can tell an engaging story in a limited amount of time and effectively impact an audience well beyond the screening. The downside to that is if people enjoy the film you are constantly asked "why is it so short?" "why can't we see more?" I'm joking about the downside part because that obviously means people were into the work. Most of the time my answer is some non-sensical, random attempt to evade the question. Well, this is one of the rare times when I can say you're gonna find out exactly what happens next. I am really proud and excited to announce that Docket 32357 will be developed into a web series! A brief history about Docket before we move forward. Eljon wrote the piece as a full length play. I turned the first scene of the play into the short that has done so well. We are essentially adapting the feature length play for the computer screen. We will delve into the lives of Lois and Valerie. We'll know more about the court case. We will be introduced to the ladies' husbands. And we'll see how their story ends. This is a new endeavor for me because I've never done something that was targeted for the web, but I am really excited to take this challenge on. I will be blogging more about our journey to get this done. I hope you will come on the ride with me as we make this web series. As always, thank you for supporting me, the crew and the film.

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Docket 32357 Screening on the Huffington Post!

As you can tell from the title of this post I have some exciting news to share with you all. Our short, "Docket 32357," is the inaugural film of the Huffington Post's Black Voices Breakthrough Theater film series. The film is available for the next week in its entirety. I ask that you all take 15 minutes of your time to see what I have been posting about over the last couple of months. I also ask that you please like, share, tweet, instagram, reddit, share of on google + and email your networks about this screening. We really need all the help we can get in spreading the word. Just as important are your comments on the film. We would love to hear feedback from our audience. This is really exciting and I would have NEVER thought the film would have an opportunity like this. Docket has gone through a wonderful journey up until this point and I hope it continues. Please join us for the ride. You can see the film at the Huffington Post here.


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Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Montreal Black International Film Festival


I am proud to announce that Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Montreal Black International Film Festival. This is our Canadian premiere and the film's 19th selection. This has been a tremendous run for us and I'm really excited that the film is a part of this festival. A friend of mine, Donald Conley who directed "Sleep" the winner of the festival's Best Short Award, had some great things to say about it so I look forward to experiencing it. I think this is one festival where we will be live blogging and posting pics of since we've missed out on attending some other great festivals with the film. It's a great feeling to see that the film is still finding venues to play in and hopefully the run will continue. Thank you to all cast and crew and thank you to all of those that continue to support Docket.

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Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Newport Beach Film Festival



So we have one more announcement to make today and that is Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival. This selection has a story behind it that I would like to share. When the film screened last summer, a representative from Newport Beach approached Eljon and I. She introduced herself and proceeded to tell us that the story in the film was eerily similar to something that she lived through not too long ago. She had a pretty strong emotional reaction to the film and was appreciative that we made it. At that point, Eljon and I didn't care as much about her affiliation with the festival, but were happy we could make an impact on her like we did. It was fulfilling. So it is special for us that we are a part of the program this year. I will definitely be in CA for this screening. I can't believe how much love the west coast has given the film. It is really humbling. If you are in the area the festival runs from April 25th - May 2nd and I will give specific details when I get them. And as always congrats to the cast and crew.

Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

I am proud to announce that Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival in Seattle. This is a festival that I have been eyeing for a couple years now because of the good things I've heard about it. I'm happy that we are a part of the program. I've never been to Seattle so I'm hoping it works out that I can attend the screening. When I get more info I will post it on here. Congrats to the cast and crew.

Lessons from Small Packages

Sundance, Atlanta, Cleveland, Austin, New Orleans, Raindance, Hamptons, Chicago International, Seattle Shorts, Anchorage and Miami Shorts. My daily commute begins and ends with the NYC Express Bus. On most days, it takes me about an hour and a half to get to where I need to go from when I leave my house to when I arrive at my destination. This bus ride is when I usually try my best to shut down and free my mind of any stress, issues or thoughts. It is my peace time. There was one ride a couple of weeks ago that was definitely out of the ordinary.

The list of cities mentioned above represent film festivals that chose not to program my short film Docket 32357 . I hopped on the bus knowing that I didn't get into one of the festivals and I was a little frustrated. I thought the film was a good option for their program based on their past editions. So I hop on the bus and there are two young kids sitting next to one another. You can tell that they're excited to be taking a ride. I'm not in the best of moods because of the rejection and these two kids are getting louder and louder. They're disrupting my Randy time. Not only did my film not get into the festival, but now I have to hear these two kids oooh and aaaahh at every thing that they saw passing by in the window. And that was when I found the beauty in the moment. These two boys were excited by things that adults take for granted. The shadows cast on the bus created by tunnels. The construction site that is creating a new building. The large 18 wheeler truck that was carrying supplies to its destination. They were enamored by all of it. That was when I realized that it isn't the end of the world to be rejected by a film festival. The point is that I'm doing pretty well even with these setbacks. I am creating. I had the strength to pursue something that I love with all the risks involved. I've overcome numerous setbacks and roadblocks that have appeared. I understand that this all a part of the endgame and while it sucks in the moment it is exactly that: a moment. There is more time and opportunities to pursue. When the next rejection comes I'll accept it, learn how I can get better and attack the next chance.  The laughter from those two boys not only put a smile on my face, but it also put things in perspective and I thank them for that.

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Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival


Docket 32357 will be returning to the Los Angeles area as an Official Selection of the 2013 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival. We are excited to be a part of the program. The Los Angeles filmmaking community has been really supportive of the film and we appreciate that a great deal. We look forward to a great festival

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