Entertainment | October 11th, 2019
Reelback Film Summit Gives Students Advice to Succeed in the Film Industry
By: Akilah Winters
Early morning October 2, students and alumni gathered in the Grand Ballroom to listen to FAMU’s Hollywood success stories in the Reelback Film Summit. The film summit is an event presented by Seven Hills Production that allows students, alumni and panelists to connect and network in the film industry and for students to truly learn from the panelists’ experiences. The idea of growth through learning from failures and successes, utilizing resources and finding one’s passion was stressed throughout the event.
“You can use opportunities to level up in your career. Find your passion,” said Darnell Jordan, a FAMU alumnus and actor, who is best known for playing a role in the blockbuster film, Black Panther. “When everyone is staying stagnant, you want to grow.”
During the event, the audience received the opportunity to view some short films and episodes of mini series that were produced and directed by FAMU alumni. Some of the short films depicted the struggles and suppression of blacks in America.
Throughout the event, the panelists gave students and alumni advice about being successful not just in their careers, but in their lives as well. Surrounding oneself with a positive support group and space became the mantra of the day.
“Create a safe circle and safe space of [positive people] so that you do not have to worry about someone taking your pitch and making the highest bid on it,” said Isheka Harrison, a Clark Atlanta University alumna, freelance writer and media marketing professional.
“Make sure you always have a support group because you cannot do it all on your own,” said Jordan.
In the film industry, the panelists informed the audience to take rejection and learn from it and to be better prepared for the next opportunity they receive.
“Allow your no to be your greatest yes,” said Chris Gees, a FAMU alumnus and celebrity hair and makeup artist.
Two film students working on their Master of Fine Arts from Florida State University’s Graduate Film School were also in attendance. Amanda Jean-Mary and Millicent Johnnie hoped to network and receive enough information to be inspired to take that next risk and step in their careers.
“I am just trying to understand what the atmosphere would be like in the film industry and trying to find a career in LA as a person of color and to be inspired,” said Jean-Mary.
“It’s not often that we have opportunities to cross the tracks and engage in people that look like us and it’s just good to get information as far as navigating the industry and how we maximize our resources in film making,” said Johnnie.
A $500 scholarship was also awarded to aspiring filmmaker and president of FAMU Focus film club, Jazmin Johnson. Johnson hopes to use the money to donate into the FAMU Focus documentary she and her crew has been working on.