Serving Up a Meat-Free Thanksgiving With Vegan Chef Stacey Dougan

Turkey and Dressing alternative courtesy of Chef Stacey Dougan


It’s that time of the year again when we come together to express our gratitude for family and friends over a scrumptious, hearty dinner.  Thanksgiving is a comforting holiday in so many ways, especially as it relates to food.  With all of the delectable options available for Thanksgiving, it is often a struggle to keep the pounds off.  Film professionals know all too well how important it is to maintain a healthy body weight especially for the camera.  This Thanksgiving holiday, Reel Focus will help you to celebrate Thanksgiving with healthier food alternatives that will keep you looking good while eating good.  In order to do this, I have asked the self-taught vegan chef Stacey Dougan to share with us what she knows about veganism and to provide some food items appropriate for this holiday. 

Stacey, I applaud you for your vegan lifestyle.  Maintaining a healthy diet is very difficult for most but with the delicious looking meat-free meals that you prepare, you make it seem easy.  First, tell our readers how you became a vegan yourself.

Vegan meal courtesy of Chef Stacey DouganI became a vegan when I was very young.   I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan and when I was a youth, I attended an African school called Nataki Talibah and it was there that I was regularly exposed to a vegetarian diet.  This was back in the 1980s, well before vegetarianism and veganism became as popular as it is today.  I preferred this way of eating ever since.  I didn’t actually remain loyal to this diet until I was about 23 years old; however.  By this time, I decided to eat like this not only because I was exposed to it as a youth but also because I had health issues such as excema.  Once I switched to a vegan diet, these health issues ceased.

I know several people who are vegans and I myself have attempted to be vegan as well.  Tell us about the challenges involved in being a vegan and how to overcome those challenges so that becoming a vegan won’t be a life trend but instead a lifestyle.

Please know that I’m speaking specifically for myself and not for all vegans when I say this but I took my time to become vegan.  I encounter many people who decide to become vegan and its almost like an overnight decision but for me it simply didn’t work that way.  I gave myself time to become a vegan and what this did is it allowed me to find substitutes for the food items that I eliminated from my diet.  As I said, I had been exposed to vegetarian diet early in my life but I did eat beef and chicken and fish occasionally.  When I made the decision to become fully vegan, I gradually eliminated one meat at a time.   After eliminating meat, I began to eliminate dairy products such as cheese and milk.  This was a major challenge for me and I’m sure that this is a challenge that most who want to become vegan will experience. 

Another thing that you may not anticipate but presents a challenge is attending family gatherings while being vegan.  Family doesn’t always know or even understand how to prepare vegan meals.  In that case, I would suggest that you either make dishes yourself to bring to the family function, try to locate a vegan restaurant in the local area and order take out from them, or ask the host to set aside a portion of the food that contains no meat.  Another challenge to being vegan is raising vegan children and that is such a complex topic that I won’t get into the details of it here.  I have a two year old son that I am raising as vegan and as he grows older, I’m going to instill in him what I know about veganism but I will allow him to make his own decisions about what he wants to eat because this is not something that I want to force upon him.Vegan Lasagna Courtesy of Chef Stacey Dougan


Simply Pure is your vegan restaurant located in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Tell us how you founded this restaurant.

Well my career as a restaurateur all started about 15 years ago.  I had recently graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta and I started a restaurant in Atlanta with a few business partners called Everlasting Life Raw Restaurant.  For those familiar with the area, it was located in the West End across from a restaurant called Soul Vegetarian.  Raw food is a little different from vegan because you can consume nothing over 120 degrees.  I eventually got out of this business deal and I started working exclusively for a Ghanan ambassador in Chicago providing vegan meals for him.  I did this for about two years but while traveling back and forth between Ghana and America, my father got sick so I wanted to be close to them in Las Vegas, Nevada.  When I got back home, I briefly worked for the Wynn hotel as a chef and this is basically how I learned hands-on skills related to restaurant ownership.  I already knew how to cook but working for the hotel helped me to perfect my presentation skills.   Eventually, I started working for Zappos doing some catering for them and a gentleman by the name of Tony Hsieh heard about me and approached me about opening a vegan restaurant in the heart of Container Park as a part of the downtown project to revitalize Las Vegas.   And I’m still here today.


Stacey, many of us are guilty of gorging around the holiday.  Can you share with us some healthy vegan alternatives to typical holiday foods that will keep us from feeling guilty about our calorie intake?

Like I said before, it would be ideal to contact a local vegan restaurant and obtain a full holiday meal from them because a lot of vegan restaurants usually provide this service around this time of the year. However, if you want to attempt to cook on your own then here are a few things that I suggest.

As a meat substitute, the most popular on the market are Tofurky or Field Roast but I personally am not a fan of alternative meat substitutes because as a vegan chef, I simply make my own using tofu and a bit of sage.   But these are good choices if you are not too familiar with how to prepare tofu.  Vegan mac-and-cheese courtesy of Chef Stacey Dougan

Dressing is primarily a vegan dish.  You would just leave out the items that are meat or meat based (gizzards, eggs, etc.) and in place of beef or chicken stock, use vegetable stock.  This will make your dressing vegan.

Again greens is a vegan dish too.  You just leave the meat out and if you want that smokey flavor that the meat provides, simply use liquid smoke in the greens to flavor them.

Macaroni and cheese is a difficult vegan dish to tackle because vegan cheese doesn’t melt the same way as regular cheese.  But I make a mean vegan macaroni and cheese dish.  This one I would advise either purchasing from the store from a popular vendor or if you want to try it yourself, just google vegan macaroni and cheese recipes.  Or, of course, you can always come by and sample mine.

When it comes to sweets and pastries, I will admit that this is not my strong point. I’m more of a vegan food chef not a pastry chef so I usually solicit the help of other vegan chefs who specialize in the pastry side of things.  So I don’t have any advice to share regarding preparing baked items.  I would suggest either finding a vegan baker or simply buying what’s on the market.  Or, again if you are adventurous, google search will yield a lot of recipes for baked vegan goods.


Chef Stacey Dougan



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Domestic Violence Awareness Month Showcase – National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence Logo



This article marks the end of Reel Focus’ Domestic Violence Awareness month.  We have seen how domestic violence personally affected one of our members, Tiffany Hill, and how she took this disadvantage and turned it into an inspiring book and film.  We have also seen how filmmaker Rebecca Johnson depicts the true story of a young girl trapped in an abusive cycle misogyny in her new film, HONEY TRAP.  Although this week we will end the domestic violence showcase on our blog, we want to provide you with an opportunity to continue to fight against domestic abuse and acquire help if you are victims of abuse.  We will end our blog segment with Emily Dahl, Senior Development and Communications Specialist at National Network to End Domestic Violence, who will share with us how victims can seek help for of domestic violence and how advocates against abuse can provide support.

Thank you so much Team NNEDV for taking the time to share with our organization how to combat this social problem. First, can you begin with telling us more about your organization and how you help victims of abuse?

Thank you for having us! The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is a social change organization and a leading voice for domestic violence victims and their advocates. NNEDV works closely with the 56 state and territorial domestic violence coalitions to understand the ongoing and emerging needs of domestic violence victims and advocacy programs. We make domestic violence a national priority by ensuring those needs are heard and understood by policymakers at the national level.

Our mission is to create a social, political, and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists. We strive to create such an environment by establishing cross-sector collaborations, corporate partnerships, and a range of programs and initiatives[1] to address the complex causes and consequences of domestic violence.

Can you share with our readers some of the myths associated with domestic violence?

There are a multitude of misconceptions about domestic violence – including what it is. Abuse is a choice. It’s a pattern of controlling behavior that can include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, and/or financial abuse. One of the most common beliefs is that domestic violence is a personal, family issue that should be kept private. The reality is that domestic violence affects millions of people regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, education, or economic status. By increasing awareness of domestic violence as a public issue, we can work towards ending the stigma.

For the past ten years, NNEDV has conducted a one-day unduplicated census of the domestic violence services requested by adults and children across the United States. Our Domestic Violence Counts Census[2] has been instrumental in raising awareness about the work domestic violence agencies do every day, and some of the barriers that keep victims from getting the services they need. From our 2015 Census Report, we learned that 71,828 victims were served and 21,332 hotline calls were answered. However, on the same day, there were 12,197 unmet requests for services – services like emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare, or legal representation.

Another misconception is that leaving an abusive partner is easy. In addition to limited space at shelters and access to affordable housing, fleeing can be the most dangerous time for victims. The risk of homicide increases greatly when the victim is in the process of leaving or after she or he has left.[3]

Most of the time we believe that domestic abuse is only a women’s issue. In your experience, have you had cases of domestic abuse involving other than women?

Yes. Studies have shown that 85 percent of victims of domestic violence were female with a male abuser. However, fifteen percent of domestic violence occurrences were in LGBTQ relationships and men who were abused by a female partner.[4] While it is important to emphasize the heavily gendered nature of this crime, meaning the majority of victims are women who have experienced abuse at hands of men; NNEDV recognizes that men are also victims of domestic violence. Because domestic violence affects us all, it is imperative that we each do our part to address this epidemic and work to create safer homes for all.

I would like to end with a twofold question. The first and most important question is to tell our readers specifically how they can get help if they are victims of domestic abuse. Then, let our readers know how they can volunteer or support to those in need of help in the fight against domestic abuse.

It is important for survivors to know, first and foremost, that abuse is not their fault and they are not alone. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there are resources and planning tools for victims that prioritize safety with abusive partners, or when they’re planning to leave.[5] You can learn more about the services in your area from your state or territorial domestic violence coalition at[6] or by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.[7]

This October, we once again honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and NNEDV will be addressing misconceptions about domestic violence through our annual #31n31 campaign. (Previous years’ campaigns include 31 Ways to Get Involved & Help End Domestic Violence; [8] 31 Ways VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA Have Made an Impact;[9] and 31 Survivors’ and Advocates’ Stories. [10]) Through this year’s campaign, we will be challenging perceptions about domestic violence and survivors and igniting change – one conversation at a time.

You can continue to be a voice against violence long after DVAM has ended. There are a number of ways you can support victims of violence including:





  1. NNEDV Projects
  2. 2015 Domestic Violence Counts National Summary
  3. Bachman, R. and Salzman, L., U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.Violence Against Women: Estimates From the Redesigned Survey 1. (January 2000).
  4. Rennison, C.M., U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001.  (2003).
  5. Planning for Safety
  6. NNEDV Coalitions
  7. National Domestic Violence Hotline
  8. #31n31 October 2013
  9. #31n31 October 2014

#31n31 October 2015



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Domestic Violence Awareness Month Showcase – Honey Trap



Reel Focus continues this month by bringing awareness to the issue of domestic violence.  Last week, we gained insight into this topic from Tiffany Hill, executive producer of the film THE LAST TIME, as she shared with readers her own personal struggle with domestic violence and how she broke free from it.  This week we highlight another film that diverges a bit from the topic of domestic abuse and zeros in on the misogyny of women – a distorted belief about women that is often the basis for domestic abuse.   HONEY TRAP, directed by Rebecca Johnson, features a teenage girl whose gender is placed on the trial of public scrutiny for the violence that erupts between two men.

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for participating in this very important blog segment on domestic violence.  Can you begin by telling us what HONEY TRAP is about and what inspired you to create such a film?

HONEYTRAP is the story of 15 year old Layla who gets drawn into gang culture and a love triangle that leads to murder. It comes out of my having worked for more than 10 years making films with young people in Brixton, in the world where the film is set.

One of the first things that struck me as I got to know these young people was how little things had changed in the 20 years since I’d been their age in terms of the sexual double standard.

Girls were caught in the same impossible bind: the expectation of being both sexy – though a not a slag, god forbid – but also tough, adhering to the same macho persona as the boys, in order to be respected by them. The film is based on a real case that took place close to where I live. Media coverage used the youth and prettiness of the girl as a sensational story, titillating almost. The prosecution lawyer in the case described her as ‘knowing exactly what she was doing, manipulating her sexuality with expertise’. She was characterized as a femme fatale, even though she was a minor.

This really brought home for me how the double standard is enforced, not only by peer pressure but by society. As we know, the sexualization of women, even as children, is intrinsic to the way they are judged and found culpable in their own mistreatment.

I knew the story behind the press coverage. I knew how it would have felt to be this girl and I wanted to take audiences on a journey with her from the inside. Not seeing her as an inhuman monster but as a kid who spirals out of control in the grip of emotions she can’t control and without the stabilizing support of a strong family structure.

How did you get your film to be a part of Array’s network?

HONEYTRAP played at Urban World film festival in New York and the lovely Gabrielle Glore who runs UW told Ava about it and put us in touch. It was a lovely case of being recommended by one supportive woman in film to another! It’s a great honor for me to be included in the Array stable and the best possible launch for the film in the US.

Tell our readers where across the U.S. they can view this film.

Photo Credit - Array Now

HONEYTRAP is currently available via Netflix in the U.S. and Canada. Tour dates included New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, Houston, Nashville, Montgomery and Gary.  More screening dates may be added at


Atlanta Screening Date: Sunday, October 16

Screening Time: 3PM

Location:  Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

Address:  101 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

Cost: Free

RSVP Link:




Check out our previous article with Array – Ayanda.


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Domestic Violence Awareness Month Showcase – The Last Time

Tiffany Hill - The Last Time
Photo Credit – Valerie R. Vaughn


This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Reel Focus is placing this very serious topic at the forefront of the blog all month long.  Often this is a topic that triggers fear and denial in many women but our aim is to create a comfortable place for women who may be victims or for women who want to provide support to unify and discuss how to combat this growing issue in our society.  To kick off this fight against domestic abuse, Tiffany Hill, a member of Women in Film and Television Atlanta, author of Authentic Me, and executive producer of the amazing film THE LAST TIME, joins us to lead the discussion on this serious issue and share with readers how she is working to make the world a safer place for women.

Tiffany, thank you so much for bringing this topic to our attention.  I was very glad that you reached out to me to share this topic with Reel Focus.  In fact, I was so glad that I decided to devote an entire month to this subject.  This is a critical issue for women and it is great that a women’s organization like Women in Film and Television Atlanta unite with other women’s organizations and filmmakers around this topic. First, can you tell us more about yourself and how you got to this point in your career as a filmmaker.authenic-me

I am originally from Spearsville, Louisiana and mother to three young sons- Tyler, Trent and Tanner.   Presently, I am an employment/labor law attorney licensed in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Ohio. I earned my Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center and my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Southern University, both located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My professional and civic memberships include the Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma bar associations, the Society for Human Resource Management, the National Association of Professional Women, Women in Film and Television- Atlanta, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated. My board affiliations include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, the American Psychological Association, Board of Educational Affairs and the YWCA, Human Resources Committee.

I utilize my legal expertise as an advocate for increased awareness surrounding the issue of domestic violence. I am author of Authentic Me: A Story of Strength, Perseverance and Faith, wherein I share my personal story as a survivor of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I am Executive Producer of “The Last Time,” a film project aimed at educating and empowering domestic abuse survivors. I host a motivational podcast, “Authentic Conversations,” which delivers content on such topics as self-worth, professional development, emotional and spiritual health. I manage a Facebook group entitled ‘Authentic Me’ which is designed to provide a place for domestic abuse survivors to heal and grow authentically with the support of others. Additionally, I collaborate with national organizations to cultivate emerging young leaders through mentorship programs.

Among the mantras by which I live is: “To live authentically is the ultimate form of happiness.”

Is domestic violence something that you have direct experience with?  If so, tell other women a little about your experience and how you were able to break free and gain control of your situation.

My ability to be able to assist other women through their abusive situations began with me finding the strength to share my personal story of abuse. Initially, it was difficult to voice that I had experienced physical and emotional abuse as a professional woman. I felt that this revelation would somehow make me appear weak. However, it was also my desire that my testimony be used to encourage someone else along their journey.

My passion is rooted in a desire to raise awareness of an issue that is often swept under the rug, particularly within the African American community. As an attorney and survivor of domestic abuse, it pained me to experience court systems and officials who did not understand domestic violence or the manipulation tactics used by the abuser. My desire to eradicate domestic abuse begins with people comprehending what abuse entails and ensuring the abused have the support and resources they need. I strongly believe that when people are free to share their stories without judgment and be supported, it will lessen the likelihood that they remain in abusive situations that threaten their health and safety.

Tell us more bout your book Authentic Me and your film THE LAST TIME.

I am author of Authentic Me: A Story of Strength, Perseverance and Faith, which details a tumultuous marriage rippled with abuse, infidelity and psychological manipulation. These painful, private truths are masked by the appearance of a perfect public lifestyle which causes the author to harbor guilt and internalize pain. At her breaking point, she must decide to uncover the mask and rediscover her authentic self. As she begins down the path of purposeful healing, she realizes that the most difficult yet necessary part of her journey would be the ability to forgive.

Authentic Me: A Story of Strength, Perseverance and Faith is available at Barnes & Noble and It is the first in a series of Authentic Me books with a focus on overcoming the trauma of domestic abuse.  Authentic Me: The Forgiveness Journey, is scheduled for publication late 2016.

I am Executive Producer of THE LAST TIME film, which depicts the story of a modern day power couple whose seemingly perfect life contradicts their private encounters with abuse. The film compels discussion regarding the warning signs of abuse, support mechanisms, self-worth and authenticity. There will be people who view The Last Time and reflect upon how the many facets of abuse have shown up in their own lives and/or how domestic violence has affected those close to them. This platform allows for continued dialogue and awareness regarding the issue of domestic abuse and is what makes this film important: it will change lives.

“The Last Time” is written and directed by Justin Poage of Fifteen Studios, a multimedia company in Atlanta, Georgia. The producers include Reece Odum, Wardell Richardson, Charmin Lee and Tommy Ford. The film is intended for initial film festival exhibition beginning in early 2017.

The Last Time features experienced actors with phenomenal talent. Cast members include Lead Actress Reece Odum as “Jasmine Brimly”; Lead Actor Wardell Richardson as “Justin Brimly”; Tommy Ford as “Chief Winston”; Charmin Lee as “Erica Rockwell”; DeEtta West as “Mother”; Angelo Diaz as “Kirk”; LaDarian Raymond as “Kevin Pullen”; Sy Sayonara as “Sheila Pullen”; Gara Coffey as “Sienna”; Michelle Valines as “Woman in Domestic Disturbance Scene”; Don Scully as “Man in Domestic Disturbance Scene”; Dilyara Akhundov as “Jennifer”; Victor Santore as “Paul”; Tina Bliese as “Private Investigator”; and Telesa Hines as “Poet”. Additionally, the support group scene features courageous survivors of domestic abuse.

The production team includes Kenneth Bradley (Director of Photography), Carlos Ramirez (Boom Operator), Shayla Infante (Key Makeup Artist/Special Effects Makeup Artist), Tony Acey (Makeup Artist), Delacia Tolbert (Photographer), Carla M. Johnson (Photographer) and Christian Davis (Production Assistant).

For women suffering in silence right now, share with them how they can gain the strength necessary to break free in the way that you did.

Do not endure incidents of domestic abuse in silence. These situations could easily turn fatal. Seek the counsel of experienced professionals. You can begin by contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or appropriate law enforcement agencies. Ensure your safety and exit immediately.  Though it may seem daunting, you owe it to yourself to take actions that are best for you, your family and your overall health.

Finally, do not let what you have gone through define you. Grow through your experiences and always remain true to your authentic self.




For additional information, visit my webpage at or connect via social media @th_authentic.  For sponsorship opportunities, film screenings, cast interviews or additional inquiries contact Join our online community by following @LastTimeMovie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Last Time


Don’t forget to check the premiere of – The Last Time. This is one of Tommy Mikal Ford’s (actor on the hit show “Martin”) last acting roles. 
THE LAST TIME, Film Premiere

It’s happening… and you don’t want to miss it!


Thursday, March 2, 2017
Midtown Art Cinema
931 Monroe Dr
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
Ticket Information:
 Photo of Tommy Ford retrieved from



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Producer Sharon Martin Shares Her ‘Overnight’ Success Story

Producer Sharon Martin Talks About Hit Series Snapped on Oxygen


Aspiring film and television professionals tend to believe that their success in the industry will be quick and easy.  This false belief often comes from only seeing successful celebrities when they have reached an apex in their careers.  Success in film and television is anything but quick and easy.  Sharon Martin, executive producer for one of the most popular shows on Oxygen – Snapped – knows all too well that success in television is not an overnight fantasy.  Before becoming the narrator for one of the most top-rated crime shows on cable, she experienced the highs and the lows of what it takes to succeed in this industry.

This week, she shares with Reel Focus readers her journey to being an ‘overnight’ success and even shares a few tips on how you too can succeed in this vacillating world.

Sharon, I want to sincerely thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with Reel Focus readers.  It is an honor to have you on our blog. For those who are not familiar with who you are because we rarely see you, tell us what you do in the world of television.

Right now, I do two jobs: I’m the narrator for Oxygen’s Snapped series and I’m also the show’s co-executive producer. So viewers hear my voice, but the bulk of my workday is getting the episodes put together in post-production and getting them delivered to the network on schedule. I also spend part of my time doing viewer outreach for the series on social media.


Before becoming the Queen of Crime TV, tell us about your past experiences in television.

I’ve been with Snapped for more than a decade, but I’ve had quite a few other jobs in television.  I started as a local news reporter.  I spent several years at CNN as a news writer.  Eventually, I moved into program production and even did a few years as a promo producer at lifestyle network. I’ve made it through layoffs and network rebrands and the skill that keeps me going is storytelling. Whether I’m working on a live news hour, promos or a true-crime series, the common thread is the ability to put a story together that engages. The product may change but those producing skills transfer.


Would you say that you have found your niche in the world of television or is this just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you plan to do in the future.

The answer is both, hopefully.  I’ve found my niche for now. Snapped is a perfect fit for my skills and voice.  But there’s one constant when working in television, and that’s change. When I started as a local news reporter, I never would have imagined I would be the narrator and producer of a long-running true-crime cable series.  When Snapped started, we never expected it to run into 20+ seasons.  So, I do hope this is the tip of the iceberg, and I’m excited to see where the next 10 years takes me.


Finally, share your advice with our readers on 1) how to break into the industry and 2) how to remain successful.

Everyone is making content everywhere right now, whether it’s for broadcast, cable or streaming media.  If you are just getting started, find a local production company and take an entry-level position. Work your way through a few projects and learn a few things about every aspect of production.  Then work hard, be flexible and build trust with the people around you. If they trust you on one project, they’ll remember you for the next one. Build your skills with each new opportunity and pay attention to the ever-changing media landscape.

When I started narrating, there was no Twitter, but now interacting with fans is part of my job.  And honestly, a big part of it is simply timing and luck.  I never intended to be a narrator, but I was working as a producer on Snapped.  Because I had radio and local news experience, I did the scratch voiceover, the temporary audio and one day they needed a new narrator.  It’s an exciting time to be in the business because there are so many paths to success and there are new opportunities every day.




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Writer’s Guild of America-East on Developing Signatories in Georgia





If you are an avid Georgia film supporter, then you already know that there is a lot of growth taking place in Georgia with regard to film production.  So much growth is taking place that Georgia is often referred to as the ‘Hollywood of the South.’  The spotlight has been on us for several years but critics challenge that  Georgia is no more than the latest fly by night sensation in film that will most likely meet with the same fate as states like North Carolina or Louisiana.  This could become a reality if local film supporters don’t come up with out-of-the-box ideas that could strengthen the film community in Georgia.

A game changer for Georgia to remain relevant and to effectively compete with California and New York in the film industry would be to create strong, stable writing communities in Georgia that support the local film industry.  One way to begin to laying the foundation for strong writing communities is to begin to grow local writing talent and to attract more writing professionals to Georgia.  This week, Jason Gordon, Director of Communications at the Writer’s Guild of America-East, shares with Reel Focus readers what it means to be a part of the Writer’s Guild and how to start establishing and sustaining professional writing communities in Georgia through developing signatories.

First tell our readers what the Writer’s Guild is and how important it is in the world of film and television.

The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government.

Tell us what a signatory is and how important it is for a company to be an authorized WGA signatory as opposed to not being a signatory.

A signatory company is an employer that has signed a collective bargaining agreement with WGA. Any company intending to employ a Guild member or option, or purchase literary material from a Guild member must become signatory to the Guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement, the collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that covers screen, television, and new media writers.

Signatory companies range from the industry’s biggest film studios to independent production companies, and broadcast networks to webisode production companies.

Becoming a signatory means that you can hire professional writers. WGAE members can only work for companies that are signatory to Guild contracts.

I’m sure you have heard of the growth of film in Georgia. Would the presence of more professional writing signatories improve the local film production market?

More signatories in Georgia means more opportunities for Georgia’s film production community to work with Writers Guild members, who are the gold standard in writing for the screen and television.

Can you conclude with a step-by-step process on who should consider becoming a signatory and how to become a signatory.

The process to becoming a signatory is extremely easy. Simply fill out the WGAE’s 2014 MBA signatory application by clicking the link below:

WGAE’s 2014 MBA Signatory Application



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Voices of Color Matter at BronzeLens Festival 2016

7th Annual BronzeLens Festival 2016
Photo Courtesy of

What is life like viewed through a bronze lens?

Is it filled with love?  Is it filled with hate?  Is it filled with joy? Is it filled with fear?  Is it optimistic?  It is all of these things and more as you will see life unfold through the filmmakers featured at this year’s BronzeLens Festival.

There are not many places in the world where you will be able to witness a concerted effort to place the stories that matter most to people of color on the big screen.   This weekend, August 25-28 in Atlanta, Georgia will be the exception.

                  Witness Footprints in the Concrete. . .

A story of a troubled youth named Domingo Guyton who rises from the vicious, crime-ridden streets like a phoenix rising from ashes to find God and make a difference in his community.

                 Witness This is the Rope. . .

A story about how a rope – something that symbolized so much terror, pain, struggle and even murder in the black communities of yesteryear – acts as a coat of arms that ties one New York family firmly to its past and to the future.

                 Witness Amenze. . .

The story of a woman from Lagos who is struggling with the type of woman she was and the one that she has become after being entrapped in the Brazilian sex industry.

                 Witness the nation’s most successful women of color. . .

Hear the stories of five distinguished women of color – Margaret Avery, Julie Dash, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Nina Yang Bongiovi, and Dawn Gillam  – who will be honored during the BronzeLens Women SuperStars Luncheon on August 26, 2016.

This weekend, witness history in the making as BronzeLens celebrates the seventh year of ‘promoting Atlanta as the new film Mecca for people of color.’


For more details about this event, visit



Don’t forget to review the article from earlier this year featuring Founding Artistic Director of the BronzeLens Festival, Deidre McDonald, here.



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Get Your Film Going With Indiegogo




There is a new phenomenon that is sweeping the world of business and it is known as crowdfunding.  Although this is a new form of raising money in the world of business, this concept originated many years ago.  Crowdfunding, which is also known as micro financing, began in the 18th and 19th century as a way to assist Irish rural families who may not have been able to obtain funding through traditional means.  In recent years, it has become a way for artists, writers, entertainers or virtually anyone to obtain funds from peer groups instead of traditional financial institutions.

This week, I want to focus on how crowdfunding can be a good opportunity for film makers to raise the funds necessary to produce their film projects.  I have invited John Trigonis, Film and Creative Campaign Strategist at Indiegogo to provide us insight into their world of crowdfunding.

Thank you so much John for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this information with Reel Focus readers.  For those of us who are not familiar with Indiegogo, explain what it is and how crowdfunding relates to your company.

Indiegogo enables creators (filmmakers, artists, and entrepreneurs) to fund what they’re passionate about by giving them the tools needed to raise small amounts of money from large amounts of people, thus raising not only the funds you need for your film, but an audience with awareness around that film.

How does your company help those who want to raise money for film projects?

Indiegogo provides the necessary tools to help filmmakers excel at not only the art and science behind crowdfunding, but also on how to find and engage a targeted audience for their film. Tactics like secret perks and referral contests help to make Indiegogo campaigns stand out from the rest and fosters conversations between the backers and the campaigning filmmakers. Being a merit-based platform, we enable opportunities for filmmakers to be featured on the site (homepage, newsletter, and social media) so they can reach a wider audience of potential backers who may not have learned about the film campaign otherwise, if not for checking out Indiegogo for cool film campaigns.

Do you have to know something about investing in order to get involved in crowdfunding?

Since crowdfunding with Indiegogo is rewards-based at present, you don’t need to know anything about investing because it’s not an investment. It’s a contribution to make a film happen, and what you get in exchange for that contribution is a cool perk (a T-shirt, copy of the film when it’s released, or even associate or executive producer credit.)

What is the best advice that you can provide for filmmakers who want to raise funds for production using Indiegogo?

The first is to read my book or the Indiegogo Film Handbook, which dives into everythdownloading filmmakers need to know about running a stellar campaign. But if there were two pieces of advice I could give now, the first would be set a proper goal amount, one that you as a filmmaker are certain you can get at least 30% of from your family members and close friends. If you can get that amount within three days of the launch, then you stand a very good chance of hitting your goal long before your deadline, and possibly surpassing your initial crowdfunding goal to raise lots more funding. And lots more funding is always a good thing for filmmakers. The second piece of advice I would give is to get social, and start now. You should have some semblance of an audience for the film you want to crowdfund –– or at the very least an engaged following –– before you launch your Indiegogo campaign. You’ll ultimately build up even more of a following the more evangelists you have spreading the word ardently about your film across their social media accounts, which builds up credibility for you and the film you’re crowdfunding with Indiegogo for.



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Women in Film and Television Atlanta and Whisky at Gallery 874 in Atlanta

The summer is almost over but the fun and excitement that Women in Film and Television Atlanta has to offer is still going full steam.  This year has been aimage game-changing year for WIFTA as we have stepped it up a notch with plenty of activities and workshops to keep members engaged.  To keep up with this momentum, WIFTA is putting on its first ever Whisky Party at Gallery 874.


What’s a Whiskey Party?


The main purpose of a whisky party is to loosen up and mingle with new people in order to network and share ideas.  In our case, it is an industry mixer in which people who love the growing imagefilm industry here in Georgia are able to get out and meet like-minded people who are all striving to make it big.  A party like this could represent an opportunity for you to toast to a new partnership with a great actor or great screenwriter who could help you take your production to another level.  Are you interested in coming yet?  Well let’s discover more about the venue and perhaps this will get you a little more inspired.


More about the Venue. . .


On August 6, WIFTA along with Gallery 874 will be hosting one of the most exciting industry mixers of the year.  In order to enjoy this exciting experience you have to be there and if you are not convinced of how important it is for you to be at this event, Nabil Mousa, is here to tell you more about this unique venue in order to pique your interest.

Nabil, thank you for sharing this information with our readers and most importantly thank you for hosting this event.  I really want our readers to get a feel for how fabulous this event will be and I think that one way to do this is to describe this beautiful venue.  Tell us about what guest will be able to see when they arrive.


Gallery 874 is a unique space that has been transformed from a large, open warehouse into a state of the art, modern and contemporary gallery.  We offer two distinct spaces that can accommodate large to small events and intimate settings such as corporate events, party venues, wedding receptions, bar mitzvah’s and of course art sculptures and exhibits.

The main gallery is 8500 square feet of open space with 16-foot ceilings, a VIP area, and a prep kitchen.  The walls are adorned with the artwork of Mousa.  This space can be masterfully transformed through lighting, sound, and draping with easy access to rigging points and power throughout the space.

The artist studio consists of 5000 square feet that house the artist’s current work as well as works in progress.  This space is ideal for anyone who is looking for something unique.  You and your guests will have the rare opportunity to view the artist’s work in its most vulnerable state.  This is the kind of setting that opens up dialogue for guests.  The artist may even be available to be present at the event for a limited time to talk to your guests and engage them in the process of his artwork.  Mousa loves the opportunity to talk about his work with others.

This event will be one of the greatest film and television mixer events of the year. Don’t miss it!

Click here to find out more.






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Indiepay on Providing Film Payroll Services in the Film and TV Industry

Indiepay Wall Logo


Hollywood is big business and with big business comes big budgets and large amounts of people who need to be paid before, during and even well after a production is finished.  This is a very complicated process but luckily one agency understands just how to navigate this complicated process.  Indiepay has provided 10 years of commitment to the film industry, ensuring HR services are handled accurately and adequately.  This week, Reel Focus ventures into the world of payroll management for film by shining light on this very innovative accounting company.

What exactly is Indiepay and how does it relate to the film industry?

Indiepay is the fastest-growing provider of payroll, financial and tax credit services to the film and TV industry. For over a decade, we’ve helped production executives, line producers, and production accountants with payroll, accounting, and tax compliance solutions.

With Indiepay, film and TV executives get exactly what they need to run their production businesses better: the best service, flexible and efficient software solutions and complete transparency. We are highly consultative and when there is money to be saved, we help our clients understand their options for realizing those savings, and customize our solutions to meet their needs.

The market for entertainment payroll and financial services has grown to more than $500MM; we see great opportunities to expand into broader enterprise solutions for producers.

Indiepay is also a leading technology company. Our proprietary software Indieware was designed by an expert team of production accountants to meet the unique needs of film and television cost accounting. Indieware provides an intuitive, easy-to-use solution for production accounting teams that saves time and money.

Do you provide assistance to television and feature film patrons?  Is the process the same?

Indiepay serves a wide range of feature films and scripted and unscripted television productions. For productions with budgets over $2MM, our pricing model can provide significant savings versus our competitors. We are the perfect starting point for both film and TV producers looking for ways to capitalize on potential fringe savings in their budgets.

Tell us some of the big names that you have worked with in the film and entertainment industry.

Our television clients include Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty), Crazy Legs Productions (Swamp Murders), Left/Right (Mob Wives), Eastern TV (Love & Hip Hop), Bobbcat Films (Mann & Wife) and Jax Media (Inside Amy Schumer). We also have a feature film portfolio that includes Carol, While We’re Young, Top Five, The Family Fang, Miles Ahead, Christine, Hot Summer Nights and more.

For a more complete list, check out our notable projects:

Indiepay is also a key sponsor of the National Association of Production Accountants (NAPA). NAPA is an Atlanta-based organization that educates and supports production accountants. Indiepay also supports local initiatives such as the Atlanta Film Festival, Georgia Production Partnership, and the GA Sourcebook.

I saw that you do have an Atlanta location. Tell us what services this local branch provides for clients.

At Indiepay we aim to be where our clients need us. The Georgia film industry is one of the largest in the US, we are proud to be here and to support productions here in every way we can. Our Georgia office is located in the popular Buckhead district. The Indiepay Atlanta team is phenomenal and provides productions with access to the full range of services we offer in our New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans offices, with the added benefit of local support. These services include:

 » Union and Non-Union Payroll

» Workers’ Compensation Insurance

» Unemployment Claims Management

» Production and Post-Production Accounting

» Tax Credit Management and Reporting

» ACA Compliance

» Benefits Packages

» Cutting-Edge Software


We’re committed to serving the business needs of the Georgia entertainment industry.


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