OK, OK. Maybe I did go overboard with the title. I’m sure that taxesare not your favorite topic and just the thought of doing taxes causes you a bit of uneasiness. I admit that it certainly scares me a bit. Luckily, we have local professionals in Atlanta who are trained in the art of easing our fears and have the skill to perform a job that gives most of us the heebie-jeebies.
Representatives from Whaley, Hammonds, Tomasello, P.C. – Greg Hammonds, Kristy Clabaugh, and John Thomas – recently hosted an information session with Women in Film and Television Atlanta (WIFTA) on the topic of taxes. Scary, right? Well, believe it or not, they made taxes seem like one of the most intriguing topics imaginable. This is because they paired it with a much more exciting topic – our Georgia film incentive program.
A small crowd gathered for refreshments and free tax information at the Georgia Public Broadcasting building in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00. Despite Atlanta’s usual traffic, many showed up, eager to learn about Georgia incentives and how their creative work in production can save some money this tax year. The room was jam-packed with people taking notes and asking questions relevant to their tax situation.
Audit manager, John Thomas, took center stage most of the night sharing his expertise. One of the most significant points that he made was that not every film made in Georgia is going to be big budget like “Fast and the Furious;” however, there are still those who can benefit from the Georgia film incentive. He also mentioned that Georgia’s film incentive is one of the best film incentives in the nation right now because it has no caps. This is a great opportunity for many film professionals because the film incentive is very relaxed about what can be included as a deduction for both above the line and below the line production expenses.
Kristy added to the discussion by informing the audience about the types of deductions that can be included and also provided audience members with a handout of these deductions. [If you weren’t able to get a copy of the production deductions, click here to contact Kristy for a copy].
The night continued with a question and answer session in which the audience was able to ask a variety of questions related to acquiring a movie certification letter, hiring 1099s for productions and ways to reach the $500,000 limit to qualify for the incentive.
The meeting ended with breakout sessions in which audience members who wanted more focused assistance could meet with one of the CPAs to attain a little more advice and possibly arrange to work with their accounting firm.
If you missed out on this year’s tax meeting and still want to get assistance, it’s not too late. Whaley Hammonds Tomasello, P.C CPA firm will be glad to assist you with your Georgia tax needs. Click the logo below to obtain more information on how to get tax help for your production, large or small.
This is what the newly appointed Queen Victoria insists to her advisors in the first episode of PBS’ new series Victoria, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for television. As the change in the United States Presidency approaches, people ask themselves “How much of the Inauguration and political coverage do I feel comfortable watching, if at all?”. Many thought that it was time to elect the first female leader of the United States, and those hopes were dashed when Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election. With Donald Trump moving into The White House, women look to other sources for inspirational leadership.
With this in mind, Victoria is a worthy addition to any television schedule on Sunday nights. Jenna Coleman (of Doctor Who fame) stars as the titular queen, who upon being informed her uncle, the King, has died, takes no time in adapting to her new role as monarch of one of the greatest nations in the world. The men in parliament doubt her abilities and wonder if her age and sex makes her qualified to be in charge, and those close to her plot to control her every decision. Thus in the first episode, Victoria makes it clear that she’ll look for assistance as she sees fit.
Which she does. After all, she must understand the full responsibilities of being a queen. She pledges her trust to Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (played by Rufus Sewell), a prominent leader of the Whig party whose days as Prime Minister are numbered. Members of the Tory party are displeased, as is Sir John Conroy (played by Paul Rhys), who has formed a close relationship with Victoria’s mother (the Duchess of Kent) and would wish to see her rule as Regent instead of her daughter, so he can influence her as he sees fit. But Victoria Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer Daisy Goodwin chooses to show a blossoming infatuation Victoria has with Lord Melbourne, something that while may not have been historically accurate, Yet it reveals that despite being a queen, Victoria is still an 18 year old young woman who feels attraction and affection as easily as the servants downstairs who help run Buckingham House (soon to be Palace, as Victoria exclaims as she moves in).
Viewers may recognize actors from other programs, such as Tom Hughes as Prince Albert (Dancing On The Edge,Miss Marple) and Nell Hudson as Miss Skerrett (Outlander), which proves to be an enjoyable game of “Where Have I Seen That Actor Before?” amidst the political and romantic issues of the day which Victoria must contend with in her early reign. But above all else, Victoria is firm in her decisions on love and life, and handles criticism gracefully (usually) while being honest with her priorities and feelings. Something leaders no matter the time period and country could stand to learn.
Victoria airs on GPB on Sunday nights at 9 p.m., now through March 5th.
Reading these words should send chills through all of Georgia’s film professionals considering how far the film industry has come since 2008. His prediction rings true because as a result of this bill, Georgia has surpassed all of its competition outside of New York and California.
Georgia is on top now but many skeptics are waiting for the moment when this trend will pass, leaving the dreams of local film professionals dashed and the economy of Georgia broken. Some skeptics believe that just like North Carolina, film production in the South will not last. They believe that all of the film production taking place here will eventually come to a halt and the only thing that will remain will be the popular film tour companies.
Of course, not everyone is as pessimistic. There certainly is an aura of pride and hope uniting many film professionals in the state of Georgia. There is also a deep passion for making the film industry more than just a short-term anomaly. Continued success will take more than just the passion of local film talent and wishful thinking, however.
HB 1100 was a step in the right direction several years ago but just a little more effort is necessary to stabilize this industry enough to compete effectively with the bigwigs of the industry and even woo them to support the efforts taking place here.
Everyone within the industry who is keeping a very close eye on the developments here, know that California and Georgia have more in common than just the wildfires that were blazing here a few months ago. Film is becoming a large chunk of Georgia’s economy as it has been in California for many decades. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is definitely watching Georgia’s progress and wants California to recover its losses due to runaway production; but, in a recent interview with NPR he insists that “It’s not necessarily us declaring war on Georgia, but it’s us fighting back.”
Georgia presently holds a strong place in the overall entertainment industry. Not to mention, it has recently held down the number one spot in America for business development for several years now. Most astonishing of all is the recent ranking as one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s 21 “Best of the World” destinations for 2017. Evidently, Georgia has a lot of hype supporting it being a great place to be but just what could strengthen its position in the film industry?
This week on Reel Focus, Ric Reitz will answer questions on how Georgia can continue its successful run and how the current incentives can be strengthened to give Georgia the competitive edge it needs to stay on top.
Ric it is a great honor to have you on our blog and I want to thank you for not only your wonderful achievements in Hollywood but also for your magnificent work in helping to grow the film industry here in Georgia. I want to begin by asking why do you think Georgia toppled all of its competition and became the number one state for film production outside of California and New York?
Thank you, it is my pleasure to respond.
Georgia’s recent success with entertainment production was the result of a “perfect storm.” When the cost basis of the industry shifted and opportunity space opened, we were able to move quickly and professionally with a focused grassroots effort, which was already organized. Whereas other U.S. states outside of California and New York have their pluses and minuses when it comes to fostering growth and employment within the entertainment industry vis-à-vis tax incentives, Georgia had and has many extra advantages. Georgia had a pre-existing production base. Few remember that prior to tax incentives Georgia had a great deal of production, right up to the Olympics; from Film/TV projects to commercials to corporate films, and therefore, post-incentives, we did not have to start from scratch on a cast, crew or infrastructure basis. We have a temperate climate with four distinct weather seasons and diverse topography, which is ideal for broad storytelling and doubling locations. We have the world’s busiest airport, which allows direct and inexpensive access to the world, which can’t be underestimated. When it came to politically expediency, much of our production was and is generated around the state capitol of Atlanta, so it was easier to tell our story.
Thankfully, we have received great political support from both sides of the aisle right up to the Governor’s office since Day One. We are not geographically close to the other major centers of production, which means we have not suffered from what I call the “black hole effect” of having resources being drawn into the top pre-existing markets by proximity. The cost of living is favorable. Our incentive currently has no sunset clauses, no maximum budget thresholds or residency requirements. And, Southern Hospitality does go a long way. Simply, Georgia has created a great opportunity to save money for producers and provided a friendly place for production people to live and work. It can be argued that other markets offer higher incentives, but I believe Georgia’s overall value is the best.
Clearly, your prediction 9 years ago was prophetic. Do you still think that your prediction is relevant in Georgia’s current film market?
Absolutely. Soundstage, studio, vendor, talent and crew infrastructure has skyrocketed. You’ll find that most other states outside of California and New York have not dug their roots deep enough to sustain large-scale production long-term. Georgia has, and a lot of that is not even directly incentivized. A quick chat with the Georgia Film Office and you will discover that the number of permanent industry residents, fixed location vendors and suppliers has jumped over 500% in less than ten years. Criticism of all new and evolving markets has been largely based on not having a deep enough bench of experienced professionals for the volume of new production. That is changing rapidly in Georgia, but it still takes time. So, we encourage a measure of patience. Keep in mind, it was never our goal to topple LA or NYC, but to become partners in the industry and ground as much international production in the states as possible. We are not about heavy-handed competition with other U.S. markets. We’ve simply created great options and an open mind. And I believe this environment has benefited not only the studios and indie producers, but national talent and crew as well.
When film was booming throughout the entire South a few years ago, there were critics who wondered how long this fad would last, particularly in Louisiana, because critics see the film incentives as a means for outsiders to come in and take advantage of the incentive; however, this doesn’t benefit the economy over the long-term. In some ways, these critiques were right and we do see that some production throughout the South has fizzled. In order for Georgia’s production to avoid becoming a part of this fizzle, tell us what ways do you think that the current incentive can be improved to not only grow the industry but sustain it within Georgia.
Whenever and wherever new industries are developed you will find criticism. Outside competition needs to criticize and, internally, people in unrelated industries want the same type of attention for their own agendas, so beware of the source.
New industries take time to develop, and this is an important new industry. One only needs to read a Georgia study on key industries of the future to know that Media is one of those industries upon which economies of the future are built. Of course, we need outside resources to kick-start the next phase of our development, because the process of training people to the level of professional ability required to pull off great entertainment production is slow. Yes, we have imported people, at first on a temporary basis, but many have stayed, which was always one of our goals. Get ‘em in. Get ‘em to stay. Believe it or not, competition improves our indigenous talent, which eventually gets them more work.
As for the long-term, the migration of experienced talent and crew will continue. The Georgia University and Technical College System, and the Georgia Film Academy will churn out our own next generation professionals, and we want them to stay. We want to attract and retain great young minds that may eventually start their own businesses, or develop new technologies that will generate new economies. When a creative vacuum is filled, you never know what you’re going to get, but history has shown that jobs in the creative industries create their own special synergy. Action leads to more action. This is not wishful thinking. It is already happening. Further, large, in-state investments have already begun with associated businesses that are not directly incentivized. Hardscrabble communities are being reborn, and new brick-and-mortar developments are springing up, including a 350-home residential and mixed-use community near Pinewood Studios Georgia. All predicted. And all within the scope of our business plan.
Beyond the occasional incentive tweak to streamline the efficiency of the Georgia program, it is neither time to restrict the migration of outside talent, nor place quotas on production for the hire of inexperienced local talent. The organic growth of our local industry and free market competition will handle the rest. You will also find that LA and NYC are not restrictive in this sense, which is how their talent pools have grown so deep over time. There is a lesson to be learned there. I understand some locals feel they are being left out, but this is more about developing reliable and bankable skill sets than entitlement. One can’t say that the opportunities aren’t here, so we have to up our game.
To sum things up, Georgia is on track. Elements are in place to sustain the Georgia business model into the future. Still, but we can’t take anything for granted. That is the nature of all things. If anything, let’s find ways for this market to develop its own signature, its own stories, and its own technologies. If anything, that is where new strategies need to be targeted.
A new year is approaching and it is about that time again to start making new year’s resolutions. One important change that most people make in the new year is with their career. Have you ever felt like your career is going nowhere? Or maybe it feels like a merry-go-round – doing a lot of work and not really getting the results you want. Well, sometimes it may be this way because you have too much clutter in your environment. Yes, CLUTTER. Many of us do not realize how our home or work environment can sabotage even our best of efforts. This is why, I invited best-selling Feng Shui author, Karen Rauch Carter to share with us film professionals how we can use feng shui to get out of a career rut and start living our dreams.
Karen, thank you so much for joining us on Reel Focus. Today Feng Shui is thrown around in conversation but very few really know what this means. Can you start by telling us the true definition of what Feng Shui is?
Feng shui is a method of mindfully arranging your living and workplace environments so that they fully support you. It takes into consideration the energetic factors as well as the function and placement of everything in, on, and around you. Everyone knows that the outcome of placing a baby at the edge of a pool for a nap is not likely to have a great outcome, but where does obvious end and subtle begin? Feng shui deals with both the obvious as well as these subtle environmental arrangements in order to help and support your health, career, love life, family or basically ANY area of your life.
Can you explain to our readers how clutter can have an effect on just about every area of your life according to Feng Shui?
EVERYTHING has an effect on you — whether you know or feel it consciously or not — however, clutter is one of the most disrespecting and energy-sucking of the lot. “What’s going on in your environment is going on in your life” is the rule to follow here. When you allow clutter around you, you have allowed the opportunity for feelings of disorganization and “never-enough-time,” and mental results of confusion, forgetfulness, anxiety and constant mental chatter to creep into your life and work. Since this is a film industry conversation, I’d like to ask you to consider set design. How is the character and his backstory portrayed through the set? Is the gangster surrounded by colorful floral pieces of art with little toddlers in them? Is the crunchy hippie’s house designed minimally with all glass and chrome furniture and white walls? NO! Everything SAYS something and exudes an energy that either helps you proceed where you want to go boldly into your ultimate future or holds you back and tethers you to some time in the past – usually with guilt attached. “What if some thing breaks? I can use that for spare parts!”, “Hey! I paid a lot of money for that – of COURSE I’m’ keeping it!”, “It’s the only thing I have from Aunt Edna!”, “My kids made it so of course I’m keeping it!” With this kind of clutter, I guarantee you that guilt will always be somewhere in your life because it’s right there in your home and workplace.
Reel Focus readers are well established in film careers or rising industry talent. Some of us may be feeling like we are not getting anywhere with our film careers even though we are giving our all. Can you share with our readers how Feng Shui may help to improve areas such as career, networking, and wealth-building.
Not getting anywhere is a classic sign of clutter – whether its physical stuff on the floors and busting out of the closet, or mental beliefs, “you gotta pay your dues for years before you get any breaks in this town” or “Mom was right, this is a waste of time.” A good feng shui consultant can help identify where the clutter is and help you remove it. For those where “nothing is moving” I might recommend adding a moving object into a space (preferably the front right-hand part of your home or a room – long story as to why.) For those who are not making any money, I’d recommend placing a plant or a picture of trees, or even something purple in color in the back left-hand part of the house or room. For those not making connections, I’d recommend making sure that the walk from the street edge to your front door is obvious and easy to find with a fresh and “welcoming” welcome mat (or in your case maybe rolling out a red carpet!) and a well lit street address, etc. The answers are infinite and will surely be customized to the client’s specific needs if you find the right consultant. In a nutshell, listen to your biggest complaint and see if you can find a counter balance to it. If you are drained all the time, unclog the drains. If you aren’t as sharp as you used to be, sharpen your knives, etc. It’s all about getting the energies in your home to match where you want to go in life.
Finally, for those of us who want to take Feng Shui further than the simple steps that you provide here, provide us with resources that we can use and how you can provide more personalized assistance.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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. 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. You can learn more about the services in your area from your state or territorial domestic violence coalition at NNEDV.org/Coalitions or by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
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.
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 www.arraynow.com/honeytrap/
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
RSVP Link: http://bit.ly/2dK7wxx
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! TELL US WHAT YOU THOUGHT OF HONEY TRAP BY COMMENTING BELOW.
Check out our previous article with Array – Ayanda.
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.
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 Amazon.com. 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.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW.
For additional information, visit my webpage at www.thauthentic.com or connect via social media @th_authentic. For sponsorship opportunities, film screenings, cast interviews or additional inquiries contact LastTimeMovie@gmail.com. Join our online community by following @LastTimeMovie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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!
JOIN US FOR THE OFFICIAL PREMIERE OF THE LAST TIME:
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.
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: