I’m sitting at my laptop, typing furiously and without regard for script structure. Never mind I don’t have FINAL DRAFT, I’m writing. I finished the first draft of the script and wanted to make sure that I was going crazy. Do people really talk like this? Does this really happen. I ran it past my litmus tests. First, my god-daughter. She helped me name these characters. Second, I let Devon take a look. He says to me, surprised “You wrote this?”. How did I know it sometimes goes down like that. Well, that’s my “secret self”, the part of me that has a creative, vivid and active imagination. That said, I wanted to make sure it was grounded in something real although not based on anyone specific and of course “The stories are fictional and any similarity to any event or the name, character and history of any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental” (making my lawyer happy here). Third, my boy Rick, a great guy and even more amazing writer. I asked him to dot the “I” ’s and cross the “T”s. Thanks Rick! But…NOW WHAT??
I had no budget, no cast, no crew - just a vision and a whole lot of nerve. I was introduced to a prospective DP who cringed at the thought that I was not making a judgmental statement about alternative lifestyles. I respected his right to his opinion but this was not THAT project. This is about inclusiveness and that has to begin with accepting the reality of what is going on. I was underwhelmed with the current crop of safe sex PSAs that assumes young adults are homogenous, one way or another. We adults are not all the same, so why should teens be? They all go the same darn school and spend way more hours with each other than at home. I bumped into an old associate in the train station, Tolu Omisore, and he totally got it! Tolu, who I met back in my VIBE days while he was still in college, was back in the tri-state area after a brief stint in MD and living not too far from me. I called on another associate Roy Clovis, a super editor. Roy had just won the 2008 Allstate Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival. I was praying he would set aside his director hat for just a short spell and sprinkle his magical pixie dust on the project. Well, the power of prayer is amazing. Not only did Roy come on board, but tapped a young talent in Amanda White, who served as editor with Roy supervising. From there, it was on. Devon, Tolu, Chantel, Tolu’s friend Anthony were the nucleus. Devon introduced me to FACES NY, a community-based non-profit organization that provides HIV/AIDS education and outreach, legal advocacy and representation, case management, substance abuse services and referral, food and nutrition programs. I wanted to ensure that there was a haven where people could get counseling, get tested and get help. Xavier Ford (no relation) and Anthony Rivera were believers and FACES NY (formerly known as the Minority Task Force on AIDS) came on board. Over the course of nine months we worked on the project. We made it through cold windy days, early mornings, longer than usual hours, late actors (ahem!), and lots of chicken – fried, barbequed, curried, you name it. Since it’s inception, at least 30 people have touched this project in some way. To you all, I simply say “Thank you”.
In peace and progress,
Kim J. Ford
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