#BlackFemaleFilmmakerSeries || Briana M. Andrews

#BlackFemaleFilmmakerSeries || Briana M. Andrews

We’ve reached week 4 of the #BlackFemaleFilmmakerSeries and I hope you’ve been nothing short of inspired by reading about Brittney, Joyce, & Tirrea and their journey’s thus far.

This week, we spoke to Briana M. Andrews, a 19-year-old undergrad student and content creator from New York with wisdom and artistry beyond her years.

How long have you been in the industry and what made you want to go into this field?

February 2017 is when I officially transitioned from being a hobbyist. I’ve been in the industry a little over two years.  I was always an artist and a right-brained, visual creative. I took an interest in photography and videography during middle-school and never looked back.  I started with a standard point-and-shoot and portable HD camera. Later, I moved up to working with SLRs and cinema cameras.

Have you ever dealt with imposter syndrome in this industry? If so, how did you overcome that?

Luckily for me, no, I haven’t dealt with imposter syndrome.  I’m confident in my abilities and always eager to learn. I take constructive criticism and grow from it.  Art is highly subjective and everything is opinionated, so it’s a matter of taste and personal preference. It is important to have thick-skin, but also important not to internalize all commentary.  If you have technical proficiency and hone your craft, the confidence comes with time. For some people, actively working in a smaller market before seeking work in New York or Los Angeles helps.

What would you identify as your most successful moment up to this point in your career?

I feel like the best is yet to come, however, the creation of comedic-short, How to Watch was definitely a huge moment of pride and ultimately led to the creation of my company, BibbyFame Digital, LLC.   Up until that point, I had worked on projects as a production assistant (PA), director of photography (DP) and behind-the-scenes (BTS), but never spearheaded an original film from start to finish.  For this film, I conceptualized it, wrote it, scouted locations, created the look-book, shot-list, production book, casted it, funded it, shot it, promoted it, edited it and showcased it.  I don’t expect to be a one-woman-army, but having an idea of how things work from soup-to-nuts gives me a greater appreciation and overall understanding of each part that goes into a creative work.  It also provides me with the ability to communicate intelligibly individuals I delegate tasks to. This process gave me the confidence I needed to use my ability for practical applications. I assist businesses with visually conveying their stories.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My stories tend to feature a strong, female-lead.  Whenever possible, I love to make use of natural lighting.  I inject myself in all of my work so my style is female-centric and blends cinema with visual art and fashion.  

Do you have a film bucket list? If so, what are you still wanting to do?

Most definitely!  I have a slew of things on my film bucket list and next month, I’ll finally be able to cross one off.  I always wanted to work on a project with an all-female crew; a project where everyone from the director, to producer, to camera-operator, production assistant and behind-the-scenes … are all women.  I wanted the experience, combined with support and solidarity, to culminate in a film where we demonstrate our collective capabilities. I am the producer of a docu-series named To Each, Her Throne that will be shot in April 2019.  Working with the director and associate director has been a phenomenal experience thus far.  It will feature a talented female cast and the funding partially comes from an IndieGogo campaign.  Also, I just found out a few days ago that out of hundreds of applicants, I was selected for the New York: Women’s Weekend Film Challenge.  It’ll be shooting BTS, and our film will be screened in the Museum of Moving Image late next month. I am really excited about both opportunities.

What would you say to other Black female creatives wanting to break into the industry?

Dream, write, shoot and edit.  There are many different platforms available where you can showcase your ability, take advantage of them.  I would also tell other black, female creatives not to get preoccupied with optics. You are going to have to work with people who don’t look like you, who aren’t the same gender as you, who have a different background than you etc.  My undergrad program is being completed at Rowan University. I attended this college for the hands-on TV / Film Production and New Media program. It was important to me to select an institution where I can develop, grow and also have a solid foundation in liberal arts without going into massive debt.  That being said, the school is maybe 10-percent Black and my major seems to be around 85-percent male. I never let any of those things discourage me and thus far, my experience has been awesome. I volunteer extensively and often have the opportunity to address large audiences of Black and Hispanic students.  Sometimes, people just need to see something done to know that it can be done. Everyone loves Ava and Shondra and Issa. It wasn’t an easy road for any of them. They braved discomfort and stand as an inspiration for countless women of all races.

Why do you feel is it important to have our voices represented in this industry?

There is value in each of our experiences; women need to find our own voices, control the narrative and take ownership of our portrayal in television, film and new media.  Similarly, these industries need to tune into, and be empathetic to the needs of various audiences. The film industry cannot be a monolithic arena and expect to be relevant with diverse communities.  Film has to serve our communities, and reflect it. That is why I feel it is important to have our voices represented.

How can we find you? (website/social media handles)

My website is www.bibbyfame.com; this is the most comprehensive source and includes links to my socials.  On Instagram, my personal profile is @bibbyfame and company is @bibbyfamedigital.

Anything else you would like to share?

I’d like to thank you, Alana Marie for providing a platform for female filmmakers to express themselves and share information about each of our respective journeys.  Having the #BlackFemaleFilmmakerSeries is particularly special during Women’s History Month. I respect and appreciate your vision. Personally, I also make a point to share information and serve as a resource to other women seeking careers in the industry whenever and however I can.

#BlackLivesMatter: When Family Becomes a Hashtag

#BlackLivesMatter: When Family Becomes a Hashtag

 

It was a Sunday and I was wrapping up my final Spring Break as an undergrad in 2012. I had opted for a weekend in Chicago with some cousins and was not ready to head back to school. I remember feeling my phone vibrate at what had to be around 4 in the morning. I decided to keep the phone under my pillow until I was fully awake to be able to comprehend whatever text was sent to me. I woke up around 9 and read a text from my baby brother that said, “I love you.” I immediately knew something was wrong.  I mean he is my brother so of course we love each other. We have just never been the type of siblings to randomly tell each other that. I was right. Something was wrong. After reading, “I got shot,” I called him immediately. This wasn’t a texting type of conversation….

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He answered and told me the story.

He was at a party,

He witnessed a fight,

He felt a bullet graze him (or thought grazed him),

He felt the hole where the bullet went in and blood run down his fingers,

He walked back into the party,

Then he passed out.

I’m so thankful for his friend Jordan, who found Jamaal slumped over inside the party and carried him back outside because the cowardly shooters found their way back inside the party and decided to continue shooting.

I spoke with Jordan as well and he stated how he disbursed after the gunshots were heard and good thing he turned around to see where Jamaal was because anybody probably would have left him there. I repeatedly told Jordan THANK YOU for looking out for Jamaal. Like REPEATEDLY.

The bullet is still lodged in his chest but because of his frame and how much he works out, the bullet is cushioned enough to not move. (At least that’s what the doctor said). The bullet landed directly under his heart that any slight move up, down, left, or right, his life could’ve been over.

But his recovery proved how real my God is.

My brother was shot on a Sunday,

Bullet moved from by his heart to the diaphragm that Tuesday (the doctor decided to keep it in him because cutting his chest open was way too risky),

Released that Wednesday,

Flew back to St. Louis that Thursday,

Spent Easter with family and friends that weekend,

Back to Arkansas that following Wednesday. All in a week and a half span.

 

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How is Jamaal doing today?

He’s currently in the process of transferring schools to complete his last year of college with hopes of going pro (or rapping); I really don’t care as long as he finishes. I’m just glad he is here.

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To this day, all we know about the shooter is that he was another young black man and Jamaal was not a specific target. Another person was shot that night as well. A girl was shot in her hand. We never even tried to find out who did it….

But I can’t help but to think if my brother succumbed to his wounds of being shot by another black man, how much noise would I have made? Would I have become an activist for anti-black on black crime? Would I have tried to seek out the shooter? What would I be doing now?

Step further….

If my brother was shot and killed by a white police officer, where would I be now? How angry would I be? Would I have caused hell for this city and demanded some type of justice on behalf of my brother?

Why is it different?

According to Forbes Top 10 list of the most dangerous cities, we are ranked at #2. That’s not something to be proud of. That’s not okay. That doesn’t even include police involved killings. That is just us knocking off each other.

But if I could get REAL real for a second. I’m all for #BlackLivesMatter because that is the issue at hand. Being in St. Louis all my life, I am a first-hand witness in seeing how segregated and how racist this city truly is: Racial profiling, gentrification, education system, over 90 municipalities in STL County (dumbest thing ever). The list of institutionalized and systemic racism goes on and on…and on. I get it. It’s a problem. One of the things I am most passionate about and why I decided to go back to school. I am a Christian so it is my job to see value in every human life. Black, white, green, florescent beige, it doesn’t matter. But because I do identify as a Black Woman, certain issues will affect me a little bit more than others.

But you know what else is a problem??????

Our entitled mindset in thinking it’s okay to take a life of our own kind. Of any kind for that matter.

180 homicides this year as of December 9 which is 71 up from this time last year. And these are just the ones that are tracked and do NOT include police involved killings…

That’s a problem.

Both are. As much as my blood boils to hear about someone in law enforcement deciding to end a life of another one of my beautiful Black Kings, I should be just as pissed when a Black King decides to kill another Black King. Or when a white man decides to shoot up a movie theater. Or when members of ISIS decide to murder Christians. Or when someone with no value for life at all decides to irrationally kill a Muslim due to their own self-hatred.

We all should be.

If God showed me my demise and getting shot just happens to be the way I go out, I would much rather be shot and killed by a police officer than one of my own people. At least I know with complete certainty that my people would shut this city down and wreak havoc demanding answers and seeking justice for my death.

Unfortunately and with all honesty, I do not have that same level of confidence that the same would happen if one of my own decided to end my life.

I pray that’s not the way I go out. But I digress

Pray for our city. Pray for our young black men and women. Pray for our youth. Pray for our law enforcement. Pray for the church. Just pray.

It is really getting out of hand and I don’t care how much you try to avoid the news, social media, etc.…it’s not going anywhere.

What are WE going to do about it?

God Bless,

Alana Marie

2 black kings I love the most, my brothers.

2 black kings I love the most, my brothers.

Where Were You On August 9th ?

Where Were You On August 9th ?

I can remember every detail. My grandmother had just passed away that June and we spent the remainder of the summer cleaning out her house to be sold. That Saturday afternoon was filled with sorting, reminiscing, packing, and throwing away all of my grandmother’s items. My aunt had also just succumbed to cancer three days prior after being placed on hospice 7 days before. She was a helping hand in cleaning out my grandmother’s house before becoming increasingly ill. On this day, the vibe was very mellow and we just wanted to get done. It was a cruel summer for the Flowers’ family to say the least but like we are known to do, we kept pushing.

We had been cleaning for a good 3 hours and decided to take a break: my mom, aunt Violet, and I. We sat in the TV room and my aunt pulled out her phone and on Yahoo’s main page it read, “Police involved shooting. Heavy police presence in Ferguson.” I had not been on my phone the entire time we were cleaning so I decided to do my usual and log into Twitter. All I saw was the gruesome image of Michael Brown’s body slain on hot concrete all up and down my TL. Everyone was RT’ing and hash-tagging #MichaelBrown.

I had never seen anything like it. My grandmother lived in Ferguson.  Addy’s father lives in the complex adjacent to Canfield. This is an area I was raised in and knew all too well. All of the chaos was just one exit over from my Grandmother’s house so my mother and I decided to get into the car and drive over to Canfield. The street was blocked off right in front of “what is now known to be the burned down Quick Trip” so my mother parked on a side street and we walked to where everybody was. It was so many people with so many questions. It had to be around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and by then police cars from multiple municipalities were there: blocking the street and standing outside their cars attempting to de-escalate anything that could possibly happen.

Canfield Dr. blocked off

West Florissant blocked off

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There were so many stories being said as everyone was trying to figure out what exactly happened.

“This cop just came and shot him, man. He ain’t even do nothing.”

“Somebody tried to rob that store and a cop chased him down and shot him.”

Nobody really knew the facts but one universal detail was, the boy was unarmed.

Apparently this incident happened earlier in the day and his body was still in the middle of the street on Canfield Dr. No one was allowed to go down that street and his body had yet to be covered.

People were livid. They were yelling and screaming at law enforcement demanding information and weren’t getting it.

Residents outside of QT

Residents outside of QT

The tactical team had arrived and law enforcement positioned as if they were ready for war. This was before the rioting and the looting. The was the very beginning when concerned residents were only trying to figure out “why?”

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My mother and I stayed for close to an hour and decided to leave as traffic got heavier. We were unsure of what exactly happened or what would eventually happen. We just knew that was only the beginning.

On Sunday evening, our household sat and watched the events of Ferguson like the rest of the country. It was like watching a movie. I had never seen my city like this. I remember telling my dad when Trayvon Martin was killed and when Eric Garner was killed, I don’t see something like that going down in St. Louis because we would never stand for it. Unfortunately, we are known for having one of the worst crime rates but I still couldn’t fathom it happening here. This was different. I am used to turning on the TV and watching incidents in LA, NY, Florida, Detroit…..not here. To know that not only can I turn on my TV, but I can drive in my car 7 minutes down the road and see it for myself. This was crazy.

I can’t tell you the mix of emotions that was flowing within me. My Aunt’s wake was set for that following Monday and I was also set to start school (I worked at a St. Louis City Public School as a College Adviser) that Monday. Would there be a conversation about this at work tomorrow? Would they act like it never happened? Could I even grieve properly for the aunt I just lost? The thoughts were all too much.

Following the events of August 9th, I can honestly say that my city has changed. For better or worse, I can’t really say. Everybody likes to criticize the rioting and looting (which I do not agree with) BUT I understand this destruction. I understand it completely. Without that chaos, this would’ve been looked over. The nation would not have stopped and watched. Would there have been prolonged conversation about this? I do not believe so. To many, he just would’ve been another black boy that “probably did something to cause his demise.”

Many activist groups have formed with some individuals I know very well and are very proud of. Universities have come out of the classroom and protested and provided forums for people to attend and discuss race relations and solutions. Investors have poured into Ferguson in order to create resources for local youth (jobs, activities, summits, etc.). Some sketchy officials have resigned and some departments are looking to diversify their force. #BlackLivesMatter has made its way all the way to the White House in hopes of creating positive/long lasting change for us.

It is said that Mike Brown always expressed that the world would know his name but if he knew the manner in which this would come to be, would he have tried to change anything? One thing is for sure, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and whatever side of the fence we are on, we can never stray away from it because it will always be in our faces.

Where were you on August 9th? Have you done anything since then to ensure that August 9th doesn’t happen again?

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Mike Brown memorial

Mike Brown memorial

City Alderman Antonio French & I

City Alderman Antonio French & I

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RIP Mike Brown

Meet the Browns

Meet the Browns

She’s the youngest person in the room, widest smile and her little feet patters on top of the gymnasium floor every two seconds. She isn’t hard to miss because every other child is 2x her size. She is running back forth from her father and a look of fluster comes across his face everytime she runs from his arms but she is safe. Her mother is on the other side of the gym listening to each guest speaker and each performance. The gym is packed with excited teens, volunteers, guest speakers, local artists, and family members. This is the first annual overnight youth summit for the teens of St. Louis City.

This was right up my alley. I already have a passion for working with youth so volunteering was a must for me on this Friday evening. Along with my best friend Candess, we were given a job to oversee the entrance table, check in participants, collect money for entry, and snap wristbands. Occasionally we would make jokes with the teens that appeared to look like they did not want to be there but their response would be, “This is just how I look.” At one point in the evening, we left the venue for the nearest dollar store for telephone cords so the girls could play double-dutch (I still don’t know how to double-dutch 🙁 ).

The night was winding down as all of the teens were already sitting in the bleachers watching the next performer. Candess and I were remained sitting at the entry table and that little girl’s mother came over. Everybody knows how random I am, so, I decided to engage in conversation with her.

“I know a lot of people always ask your husband and the birth mom how they are doing after everything that happened last August, but how are YOU doing?” –me

“A lot of people ask me how I am doing. More than you would think because they know the relationship Mike and I had. Last year was really crazy. I am at peace with Mike Mike’s death. I am not at peace with seeing the man I love hurt the way that he hurts and I can’t do anything about it.”- Calvina (Cal)

The “Mike Mike” she is referring to is Michael Brown Jr and her husband, Michael Brown Sr. The little girl whose feet is pattering against the gym floor is Mike Brown’s baby sister: only 2 years old. I wonder if she would even have a memory of her older brother who, respectively speaking, made the nation stop and pay attention.

Cal is so genuine and candid. She didn’t know me from Adam, but spoke with me as if we were two long lost friends who were finally catching up. She expressed all that she went through last year but assured me that her faith is strong.

In June of 2014 they lost everything they owned in a house fire, her and Mike Sr. were married in July of 2014, and she lost her stepson in the craziest of ways on August 9th.

“I don’t know what all this means but Lord, could you give me the heads up next time you are making plans?”

I can’t fathom enduring what this family has endured but her current smile is very real.“There were so many times I wanted to pack my bag and go but, no. I couldn’t.”

She would look over to her husband’s direction and smile. By this time he was over by the mic thanking the participants for coming out to the Chosen for Change first annual Youth Summit. This organization was made in honor of Mike Brown Jr. and their focus is to save lives one day at a time through empowering youth, strengthening families, and giving back.

She went on to tell how her and her husband met (when they were teens) and how they reconnected. She has other children who were also at the summit sporting t -shirts honoring their brother and taking turns dancing with their baby sister.

I have done my fair share of watching several media outlets create stories on Mike Brown and Ferguson but for once, it was nice to see the family first hand. It was nice to see that although this family has endured extraordinary pain, they are still an ordinary family that can still do ordinary things.

Since August 9th, the Browns have spent everyday honoring Mike Jr.’s legacy by going across the country speaking about police brutality, race issues, and giving back to communities all while grieving with a camera in their face. Imagine losing a child in the way that they have lost a child but instead of prayers and condolences, the country reverts back to its segregated ways and blames your child for his/her own death; Calling your child everything but a child of God and labeling the killer as a hero.

No one really knows what happened on August 9th nor will we ever truly know but one thing I do know, this family is like any other family and deserves the respect, empathy, and prayers that you would want: white, black, purple, mahogany…whatever.

The Brown’s just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and spent it finalizing plans for Mike Brown Jr.’s anniversary weekend.

Cal and Mike Sr., I do not know you all very well but I admire your strength, courage, resilience, and love for one another. Continue to do great work in shedding light on the ills of this world and stand firm on God’s grace.

RIP Mike Brown.

Me, Cal, Mike Brown Sr., Candess (little mama in the back)

Me, Cal, Mike Brown Sr., Candess (little mama in the back)