29 October 2009

Full Spectrum's The Frighteners

Full Spectrum Live is a monthly forum where cutting-edge creators discuss the ideas and experiences behind their work; and where audiences quiz the panelists—and each other—about their place in the world.

This months panel was entitled The Frighteners and was a discussion with five creators who traffic in nightmares. It took place at Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO Brooklyn on New York on 29 October 2009.



The panelists were painter - Gloria Adams, writer - Clay McLeod Chapman, playwright - Desi Moreno-Penson, filmmaker - Jane Rose and television writer - Terence Taylor. The panel was moderated by Black Rock Coalition president, LaRonda Davis.

Each creator took turns introducing themselves and their work, as well as answering moderator and audience questions about the origins of fear and the changing definition of fear in art and how their work navigates the space between formulaic creations and over the top aggressive expressions as well as being original creations of their own experiences and imaginations.

The founders of Full Spectrum are Brian Tate and Danny Simmons.

10 May 2009

The Princess and the Frog trailer



The full trailer for Disney's "The Princess and the Frog". This trailer aired during "Wizards of Waverly Place" on disney channel on May 9, 2009.

08 May 2009

Whoopi Goldberg's Stream

So somehow in the midst of my very busy life, I missed the original debut of this Web program. It's called Stream, and stars Whoopi Godlberg, as a troubled 50 something year old woman who can remember the future and it's a problem it seems.

Here's the trailer:



I'm going to look into this project a little more and will get back with what I find.

ECBACC 2009

The organizers have been making this convention happen since 2002. It is
informative, educational and entertaining. There are workshops for children and adults too!

This years special guests include Kevin Grevioux, L.A. Banks and Jamal Igle.

Don't miss it!



















23 April 2009

Zulu Mech I: Brother G, Mshindo and Wesley Snipes!

This is the press release for Brother G's Zulu Mech 1:















New York, NY - , 2009 – Zulu Mech 1, a breakthrough African scifi adventure series co-produced by Wesley Snipes, will be unveiled on May 30th at BookExpo America. The press conference is scheduled for 12:00 noon in the African American Pavilion, room 1C01-1C02 at the Jacob Javits Center.

An innovative combination of animation, music, movie techniques and fine art paintings called a “Cinema Graphic Novel,” Zulu Mech 1 is an adventure designed to promote literacy, hope and world peace. Creators Mshindo I and Gregory Walker, aka “Brother G,” the award winning author of the “Shades Of Memnon” historical adventure series, will be on hand to introduce their epic. Snipes, star of the Blade movie trilogy, who serves as Zulu Mech 1 co-producer and voice talent, is also scheduled to appear along with Jonathan Woods, animation director and music composer. Then at 1:00 p.m., activities will shift to the African American Pavilion stage for a presentation entitled “African Legends Past And Future” that closes with a screening of the first Zulu Mech 1 adventure. Upcoming episodes will soon be available on Apple Itunes.

“I think Zulu Mech 1 is a grand adventure," said Snipes. “Everybody knows I love sci-fi, I am always looking for a hot new property and I think I found it! If the fans liked the stuff we did on the Blade series, they are gonna love this. Zulu Mech 1 as written by Brother G and illustrated by the amazing Mshindo brings a fresh, untapped perspective to scifi. I think the world will be pleased. Our hope is to develop ZM1 into one of the hottest franchises around."

Snipes will be providing voice-over for the adventure epic, set in a near future where the nations of the Earth are on the verge of world peace and Africa is a prosperous united state. But just as things look the best, the fate of the world takes a tragic turn as humanity faces an invasion by strange, highly intelligent creatures called “The Elder Race.” The twist is that the Elders come not from outer space, but from inside the Earth, the product of an unknown pre-human evolution. In a brilliant “reverse Planet Of the Apes” scenario, the Elders want things back the way they used to be, before they destroyed their world and placed themselves in a billion year slumber deep inside the planet. Unleashing a devastating attack on humanity with powerful and unknown technology, the Elders intend to take the Earth back. They nearly succeed, until the rise of the amazing Mthunzi family from South Africa, and the forging of the astonishing hero Zulu Mech 1.

“Its Africa based scifi,” said co-creator Gregory “Brother G” Walker,” who is slated to receive an Octavia Butler Humanitarian Award for his novel series “Shades Of Memnon” after the screening. “The Elder race is based on traditions of many African peoples that there was a creation before this creation, a world before this world that was destroyed. And the Zulu Mech is based on African practices involving spiritual “totems” or power items, ancestor communication and tapping into the power of the Earth. There are also heavy doses of nano-technology, advanced metallurgy and other high tech elements. I love the Transformers and Terminator etcetera, but its time we had epics from another perspective. This is truly sci-fi for the age of Obama!”

All who have glimpsed it say the linchpin of the Zulu Mech 1 epic is the amazing artwork of it's co-creator, the acclaimed Mshindo I. With his detailed, fine art quality paintings, dynamic compositions and comic book inspired action sequences, Mshindo brings the epic to life with unprecedented style. Some who have seen the dazzling ZM1 clips have expressed interest in producing video games, toys and other merchandise.

“The Elders unleash giant artificial creatures called “Constructs” to terrorize the Earth,” said Mshindo. “As an artist I get to bring forth imagery and monsters from the traditions of many cultures and that is a lot of fun to illustrate. I am also a fan of giant robots; so it was great creating Zulu Mech 1. As a mechanical creature ZM1 seems similar to other famous mechs, but believe me, he is something different. Zulu Mech 1 is unique, he is a Spiritual Cybernetic Organism.”

14 January 2009

13 January 2009

INVISIBLE UNIVERSE DOC PRODUCER SEEKS EDITOR (DEFERRED PAY-NYC PREFERRED)

Invisible Universe: a history of blackness in speculative fiction explores the relationship between the Black body and popular fantasy, horror and science fiction literature and film and the alternative perspectives produced by creators of color. This documentary features interviews with major writers, scholars, artists and filmmakers and explores comics, television, film and literature by deconstructing stereotyped images of Black people in the genres. The Invisible Universe documentary ultimately reveals how Black creators have been consciously creating their own universe.

The producer currently has an SD DV based 60 minute cut of the film but would like to re-edit that version and extend it into a 90 minute version. Ninety-five percent of the primary footage (interviews, b-roll, video clips, artwork, etc. has been acquired) and the first draft of the narration has been written. Ultimately we are aiming for distribution on public television, cable, DVD and on the Internet. We have been contacted by several distributors already in regards to our documentary.

The producer is seeking a creative and competent Final Cut Studio based editor who has their own equipment (however, we will supply hard drives for the project) and is able to communicate and preview chapter cuts via an Internet based work flow. The editor must have experience with editing documentary subject matter. Feature length work is preferred.

There is currently no budget for immediate payment, but the producer is seeking additional funds to complete the documentary and will contract for compensation with chosen editor.

The producer is looking to complete the new 90 minute cut by the beginning of April.

Please contact producer, M. Asli Dukan for more information at invisibleuniversedoc AT gmail DOT com.

Also please visit our websites at:

http://www.invisibleuniversedoc.com
http://www.myspace.com/invisibleuniverse
http://www.youtube.com/invisibleuniverse
Facebook group - Invisible Universe documentary

12 January 2009

Invisible Universe documentary seeks editor

Invisible Universe documentary producer seeks feature length editor.

Invisible Universe: a history of blackness in speculative fiction explores the relationship between the Black body and popular fantasy, horror and science fiction literature and film and the alternative perspectives produced by creators of color. This documentary features interviews with major writers, scholars, artists and filmmakers and explores comics, television, film and literature by deconstructing stereotyped images of Black people in the genres. The Invisible Universe documentary ultimately reveals how Black creators have been consciously creating their own universe.

Must be final cut studio proficient
Must have experience with editing documentary subject matter.

For more info:

contact M. Asli Dukan, invisibleuniversedoc AT gmail DOT com

12 June 2008

Video clip excerpt adaptation from Octavia Butler's Dawn.



I am searching for more info on the makers of this clip. Will post soon.

23 May 2008

Nichelle Nichols tribute video



Here is a tribute video I cut honoring Nichelle Nichols for her work as Lt. (Cmdr.) Uhura in the world of Star Trek for the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) in 2008.

21 May 2008

ECBACC 2008 honors television legend

Every year, the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC - pronounced "EKBOK") is held at the main campus at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This year, in their 7th annual event, the organizers, artists and fans got a chance to meet, celebrate and honor a television legend, Nichelle Nichols.

Ms. Nichols played the groundbreaking role of Lt. Uhura, on the Star Trek television series from 1966-1969. She was the communications officer and fourth in command on the Starship Enterprise and among a crew whose aim was to explore new galaxies and strange new worlds. Ms. Nichols received the Pioneer Award from ECBACC and Temple University's Pan-African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP), the supporting organization of the con.

Nichelle Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois in 1932. She began singing and dancing at an early age and by the time she was a young woman, she was touring the United States, Canada and Europe with bands led by Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. In 1968, she was virtually handpicked by creator and executive producer, Gene Roddenberry to star as the Lt. Uhura in the Star Trek television series. After Star Trek was cancelled, Ms. Nichols would go on to star in the first six Star Trek feature films beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 and ending with Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country in 1991. During her long career, she has recorded two albums and co-written two science fiction books, Saturn's Child and Saturn's Quest. She has also participated in a special NASA program whose goal was to recruit more minority and female applicants, as well as serve on the Board of the National Space Society. She currently can be seen in the film, Lady Magdalene's, Tru Loved, Are We There Yet? and also as Nana Dawson in Heroes.

Ms. Nichols will be appearing in the Invisible Universe documentary.

Also attending this year's ECBACC was Nell Wilson better known as Fat Momma, the second place winner in Stan Lee's reality program, "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" in 2006.

19 May 2008

S. Torriano Berry interview

Steven Torriano Berry is an American film producer, writer and director. He directed Noh Matta Wat!, the first Belizean dramatic television series, which first aired on November 28 2005.

A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Berry was raised in Des Moines, Iowa. After receiving his Bachelor's degree at Arizona State University, he entered the Master's program at UCLA's prestigious film school. While at UCLA, Berry worked on numerous film and video projects including an award-winning short, Rich, in which he wrote, produced and directed as well as starred.

Berry is currently an associate professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he directed the indie horror film, Embalmer in 1996. He is also the author of two books on black film.

Embalmer is available here.




IU: How and when did you become interested in film and filmmaking?

TOR: I started in still photography after my sophomore year in high school, motivated after my older sister set up a dark room in our garage. She put this plain white sheet of paper under this light and put it in some water looking stuff and when the image appeared I was hooked. This was before instant Polaroid photography when you still had to wait 60 seconds to pull the backing off, after the image had already formed, so I truly thought it was magic. I stayed in that darkroom all summer long and when I returned to school for my junior year I had a photography class on my schedule that to this day I do not remember signing up for. I figured it was destiny.

IU: Talk about your experience at film school at UCLA, alma mater of many, future Hollywood talents?

TOR: Going to UCLA was like throwing gasoline on a smoldering flame. My dad used to take home movies with his 8mm camera when I was a kid and I always enjoyed seeing the excitement that watching them would bring to family and friends. I started playing around with making super-8mm movies while majoring in art & photography at Arizona State University and began to like it. I worked full time my senior year at the AiResearch Manufacturing plant photo lab in Phoenix and realized I was not ready to punch a time clock after graduation, so I started seriously considering graduate school in Film. I was so into lighting, camera angles, and plot lines that I would try to “talk film” with my friends and movie dates, but they would look at me like I was crazy. In film school, I found other people who thought and dreamed and talked about film like I did, so it was like a breath of fresh air.

IU: Who are some of your influences, filmmaker or other that motivate you as a filmmaker?

TOR: I got to UCLA in 1981, pre-Spike, pre-Townsend, pre-Singleton, etc, so there was no one black that I knew of at that time doing what I wanted to do. But this was cool because I figured I would be the first. Of course, in time, I learned about Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, Jr., and that even Sidney Poitier had directed films. There were also the independents, St. Clair Bourne, Haile Gerima, and Charles Burnett. Still, in Hollywood, there were not many black folk being credited with doing anything behind the camera back then, which was very daunting. I wondered why this was so? Were we not good enough, lucky enough, talented enough? Or was it blatant racism…Duh?

I spent a great deal of my time trying to figure out how I was going to tell the stories I wanted to tell when it was obvious the system was not interested in my perspective. Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola were blowing up around that time and I envied them and what all they were doing, especially, at the box office. I decided to be as well-rounded as I could be to accept and excel at any opportunity that arose. I learned to write, produce, direct, light and shoot, edit, do sound, push a dolly, and even act in my own productions. I am also a musician so I often did my own music. I worked crew on as many other student productions as I could to learn and grow in the craft. You can learn so much from watching other people, what to do and what not to do.

UCLA had a two-year, MFA program with 72 credits, and I could have graduated in two years, but when the time came I felt I still had more to learn, so I took two extra years and came out with 143 credits and a lot more experience. That extra time, experience and additional classes taken has helped in my personal work because the more you can do yourself, the fewer people you have to pay, and there are fewer things holding you back.

IU: You've made several short films throughout your career, a few in the SF genre. Would you talk a little about your short SF films, specifically "Deathly Realities" 1985, "The Connection" 1985, "The Coming of the Saturnites" 1986 and "Money'll Eat You Up" 1992. What were the subject matters, themes, genre devices of these films?

TOR: A major breakthrough for me was discovering video. I had to pull the plug after one day of shooting on what was to be my thesis film project after I realized I could not raise the rest of the budget to do it. That was a crushing experience. It was a 16mm feature-length gospel musical titled “Light of the World,” and dealt with a new sound of contemporary gospel music, much like what Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin are doing today…but this was back in the early 1980’s. I’ve been told I was before my time, maybe so…go figure. Anyway, one day I was complaining to a T.A. about my money troubles stopping me from making movies and he told me about shooting on video for much less.

My thesis project ended up being the pilot for a sci-fi anthology series shot on ¾ inch video called “The Black Beyond.” I had noticed that every year they would run a 24-hour “Twilight Zone” marathon that was quite popular. There were no anthology programs on TV at that time or anything dealing with science fiction at all, so I figured it was a fresh concept, especially, if I did it from a black perspective.

The show was to consist of two parts, a short 3-5 minute teaser project, followed by a longer 15-20 minute project. The pilot included “In the Hole,” as the short. It’s about a man’s first day in prison for killing his lover in a jealous rage. He soon learns his cellmate is incarcerated for a similar crime only the slain love of his life was another man. Now they must share the same jail cell, along with something the new guy had never anticipated. “Deathly Realities” is the feature, and co-starred Tommy Ford, who went on to costar in the TV series “Martin” with Martin Lawrence. It is about a serial killer who finally meets his match, ends up in the after life, and finds his previous victims waiting for him, armed and anxious to seek their revenge. I sent the finished pilot to several studios including Spielberg’s company, but they all turned it down. About a year or so later they came out with “Amazing Stories,” somebody else did “Monsters,” “The Dark Side,” and even a revamped “Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits.” After telling me “No,” they just lit up the TV with science fiction based anthology series…go figure.

Not to be out done, I kept on going on my own. Episode 2 of “The Black Beyond” was “The Connection” and “The Coming of the Saturnites.” I shot “The Connection” after graduation while I was home in Des Moines, Iowa working for MCTV (Multi-Cultural Television). The story is about a guy and girl that end up in bed one night after meeting at a nightclub. During a bit of pillow talk, they begin to argue over whether there is other intelligent life in the galaxy. She says there isn’t, he says there is and proves it. “The Coming of the Saturnites” was produced after I returned to Los Angeles to work as an Access Coordinator for Group W Cable in Gardenia, CA. While tracking the flight pattern of the Saturn 5 Satellite, an astrophysicist and his assistant transport a magnetic man from Saturn into their laboratory. He takes on human form and insists his visit is peaceful. He only needs to find the satellite that has recorded several thousand of his magnetic counterparts from the Rings of Saturn and return them to home. The smitten female lab assistant believes the spaceman, but the scientist fears a magnetic invasion of the earth.

I took on “Money’ll Eat You Up!!!” for Episode 3 of “The Black Beyond.” This was shortly after I came to Howard University to teach. It is about a wealthy man who proclaims that money is “the root of all evil,” then gives up his lavish lifestyle to live homeless in a park. He is arrested after people begin to disappear and claims that a $20 bill that has been blowing through his park has been eating people up. He says they see it, they pick it up, and they vanish. Anyway, that’s his story and it’s the truth. We later learn that aliens in a spaceship are fishing for food using money as bait.

I have storylines for 13 episodes and written scripts for the first seven. I sent the competed trilogy and a couple scripts to the “Outer Limits” people in Canada, thinking I might get the hook-up, or get hired onto something they were doing, but again, they were not interested.


IU: Your first feature length project is a horror film entitled, Embalmer. It is a teen slasher film about four friends who encounter the "real life" urban legend of a maniacal embalmer looking to resuscitate his wife and daughter by using the body fluids of the living in an African American urban neighborhood. Talk a little about where the idea of this film originated and how long it took to complete?

TOR: For years I told myself I had to do a feature and shoot it in film. I had a nice body of work that had won festival awards and accolades, but I constantly received the comment from the industry that the work was done on video, which made It something less, as if my talents and skill could not be transferred to the more expensive medium of film. Anyway, I read an article somewhere that said there has never been a horror film produced that has not made money, no matter how bad it was.

With this in mind, I conceived “The House Where Nobody lived,” and the hook was going to be: “Nobody believed that something lived in the house where nobody lived.” I then had to figure out what was going to live there, and I came up with the Undertaker Zach character, quickly followed by four run away kids seeking someplace to hide. Eventually, the Undertaker Zach character over powered the house and it became EMBALMER.

I wanted to explore the concept that these kids were actually dealing with the real, everyday horrors of drugs, sexual abuse and neglect, and peer pressure without flinching, and yet, they were afraid of this neighborhood myth. We shot over a 3 month period with post-production and arranging for distribution lasting a couple years.

IU: Embalmer appears to be truly a labor of love. You were the producer, director, writer, cinematographer, editor and composer. Technically how did you balance wearing so many hats on one project?

TOR: It was difficult, but I was used to working that way. I shed a tear or two at a couple of difficult times during the production because it is a lot of pressure to have the whole project resting on your shoulders alone, especially, during the times when you think you just might not make it work after all. You have the cast and crew that have committed their time and talents and you do not want to waste their efforts and fail. I had a core student crew of four of my best Howard students that were always there and about another half dozen or so that came and went. I had the creative vision and the production experience and the students were right there working with me. We usually shot weeknights, Tues. thru Thurs., 6:00-12:00am or later, which is not much time for production. The grad students had priority over the use of the cameras and equipment and they mostly shot weekends. We were in production from October thru December 1995, broke for X-mas break, and finished principle photography in January 1996. Post-production went on for the next couple years and went through several versions, with four or five additional scenes that I wrote and did pick-up shoots as needed to spruce up the story line and fill in the gaps.

IU: The budget of Embalmer was reportedly $50,000. Is this true and if so how was the money was used, e.g., on talent, locations, production design, film stock and processing, post production, etc.? Also how did you finance the project, personal savings, credit cards, loans, etc.?

TOR: It was actually more like $25,000 or $30,000. The biggest expenses were film stock, processing and video transfers, and catering. I did not have a huge cast and crew, but I kept them well fed while on the set. I tell my students all the time, “A hungry cast and crew will revolt and kill you!” Not literally, but they will mutiny. For financing, I took out a home equity line of credit on my house for most of the budget, and had a bit saved up from a couple industrial projects I had done. I wrote the script to be shot on a low to no budget as well. The script only had 8 main characters and three main locations. I added a few scenes while in the editing process, such as the sacrificial bum that was actually suggested by a student after an early rough-cut screening. I was told I needed more blood, more sex and nudity, too.

IU: Where did you find your actors and what was it like working with first time, non-professionals on a feature length genre film that included not only murder scenes, but sex scenes too?

TOR: I did an open casting call, but got most of the cast from Howard students. I initially wanted to cast Archie and Cindy as Caucasian, but none showed up. I also had another actor I had worked with before in another project in mind for Undertaker Zach, and had even cast him, but the night we shot his first scene something came up. There was a student on set that I had seen in a few student projects, so I asked if he wanted to play a killer? He said sure, and did a good job, but in retrospect, I probably should have held off because he really wasn’t old enough for the role. I figured since his face would be hidden behind the surgical mask we could make it work, but the eyes were important, and he didn’t have the mean and evil eyes that I originally had in mind. I’m often impatient like that. I’d rather get it done and try to make it work rather than wait and lose the momentum.

IU: I love Embalmer's theme song, "Undertaker Zach Rap" a rap song about the embalmer because if brought me into the mood and action of the story. Talk about the process of writing a rap song for the film. Where did you find the group to perform the song? Where did the rest of the music for the film originate?

TOR: I wrote the Undertaker Zach Rap hoping to bring in the Hip-Hop crowd, and I wanted the film to have a really hip soundtrack. I did a rough audiotape of how the rap went, and along with a few other songs I wrote for the film, including “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and sent it to the music supervisor in Philadelphia. Music producer Andre Epps had heard about what I was doing with the film and expressed an interest in working with me on the soundtrack. He was representing several local Philly musicians and he produced the songs for me. He would also send me music that I would fit it in wherever I could, but a lot of it had beats that didn’t fit well with some of the more tense and scary scenes, so for a few creepy segments I actual scored them myself using a KORG 264 keyboard with 16 track sequencer. A few other musicians I knew also provided a few tracks.

IU: Your directing style is very inspired. The camera angles and movements were fluid and transitional, the use of lighting was motivated and artistically used, your compositions were interestingly framed, etc. All in all, you consistently used the techniques available to you as a director in a genre work to lift the film from its meager budget into something that respected its art form. How did you plan out your directing style for the film? Do you storyboard, plan on the set or something in between?

TOR: I usually see the scenes in my head before I shoot and only storyboard if it’s a complicated scene or an action scene. The fight scene was story boarded and shot with two cameras. Everything else was shot single camera and 90% was purposely shot hand held. Setting up the tripod for each shot takes time and is cumbersome, plus I wanted the subtle, unsettling camera movement to help keep the audience a bit on edge. Composition is also important to me, especial, since I started out as a still photographer, and I like to try to tell the story visually. I went to FESPACO in Burkina Faso West Africa years ago and realized how important this is after watching films shot in Portuguese with French subtitles, or shot in Amharic with Spanish titles. Some such films I could still follow, while with others that I could not read or understand the language, I was totally lost. The ones that let the pictures tell the story were so much more universal.

IU: What kind of response did you receive for Embalmer from audiences, festivals, other filmmakers, etc.? Where have you screened the film and what festivals did have you attended with it?

TOR: A 30 min version of EMBAMER was a finalist in the Showtime 1998 Black Short Film Showcase, which was very exciting. It was also very disappointing because they were never even interested in looking at the feature version for possible acquisition and distribution. In fact, finding distribution was a major headache that eventually turned into a pain in the ass. “The Blair Witch Project” came out while I was seeking distribution for EMBALMER, and when I went to see it, I was very disappointed. At the time, I didn’t feel it was any better than what I had done, but I guess $100 million at the box office says different. Eventually, Urban Entertainment picked up Cable and Internet rights for a small advance. They gave it a short pay-per-view run, but that was about it. Spectrum Films out of Mesa, Arizona picked up theatrical and home video rights for free with a 50/50 net split, which didn’t matter because they went out of business and stiffed me anyway. EMBALMER grossed over $100,000 in VHS and DVD sales and I never saw a dime. So, the article I read was right, my horror film did make a profit, but I didn’t.

IU: Embalmer is a rare find, in a sense, a horror film from the perspective of African American culture. Would you say that your interest in the genre drove your work or the lack of "black SF films" drove you into the genre or is it something else entirely?

TOR: I had always been fascinated by science fiction and space movies as a kid and was always disappointed that nobody who looked like me was ever flying spaceships and exploring the stars. I mean, “This Island Earth,” “Forbidden Planet,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and even “The Green Slime.” I recall while I was living in Philadelphia back in the late 1980’s, I got a call from Warrington Hudlin with the Black Film Foundation about doing a Black Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi program in New York. I said, “Sure,” and drove up for the event with my Black Beyond series, thinking there would be other black sci-fi projects screened as well. I got there to learn that I was the only black independent filmmaker working in science fiction at that time, which I found surprising. I thought it might give me an edge on my career, but it never did.

IU: What SF genre projects do you plan on working on in the near or distant future?

TOR: I have actually made a conscious decision to back away from production and concentrate more on writing books and novels. I have two film resource books I’ve co-written with my sister, Venise Berry, who is a published fiction author as well. “The 50 Most Influential Black Films,” Citadel Press, 2001, and “Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema,” Scarecrow Press, 2007, is on bookshelves now, and available through Amazon.com. I have as completed two fiction novels that I am still trying to get out. TEARS, is based on a feature-length script I wrote about how racism is indoctrinated into children here in America, and THE HONEYMAN’S SON, is a period piece coming of age story about a young man who wants to do more with his life than taking over his father’s business emptying outhouses.

For a long time I wanted to do the Hollywood thing, but I don’t feel I have the energy anymore and I’m tired of bouncing off the walls. Hollywood is such a tightly secured industry that is difficult to penetrate it from the outside. However, for the past two years I’ve been involved as director and co-creator of the first dramatic TV series of Belize. “Noh Matta Wat!” is a dramatic series about the wants, dreams and desires of the Diegos, a Belizean family struggling to live, love and survive in the heart of Belize City. It’s been a great experience and we’ve completed three short seasons since August of 2005, but I couldn’t imagine doing something on that scale on my own anymore. Production work used to thrill me, such as when I was doing EMBALMER. I used to wake up ready to go, it now tires me out.

Denvor Fairweather of 13 Productions in Belize is producer and co-creator of “Noh Matta Wat” and we worked well together, along with the hardworking cast and skeleton crew. It’s had a major positive impact on the people of Belize and I am very proud to be a part of that history-making event. Still, I no longer have the desire to embark upon a major production of my own.

IU: What advice would you give to a young filmmaker embarking on a career in film, and specifically in SF genre film?

TOR: Filmmaking is so difficult and often heartbreaking that I think you have to be bitten by the ‘film bug’ and really love it to maintain as a struggling independent. I can only assume that it is a bit easier for those who have ‘made it,’ but I’m sure that they have an everyday struggle on their hands as well. Film has the power to motivate, educate, inspire and influence the way people think, act and feel, which is an awesome challenge. I have learned that in many cases it’s not really about who you know, but it’s more about who in a position of power knows you. When you have a production problem, or are in need of something to help get you to the next level, and you can’t pick up the phone and get the help or resources you need, it’s hard to take that next step. If you don’t have the money, the contacts, or all that you need in your own hands, it all comes down to how well you are able to cajole, motivate, impress, convince, threaten or manipulate whoever has what you need to give it up. Some people are good at making a way out of no way, and I’ve done that too, just not on a large enough scale.

A lot of people who have made it say you should never give up, and that’s valid, but I say only a fool with a death wish would row his canoe under a sinking ship! That’s a bit convoluted, perhaps, but it’s a metaphor I often see when contemplating my future career moves. You constantly look, and think, and plan and try, and run and hit the wall and bounce off, and hurt and recover, and try again and again, with no one in power and control even noticing your efforts. People who can’t help pat you on the back and tell you how talented you are (which is good to hear), and might even offer friendly advice, but that’s as far as it goes. Those that can help you either don’t or just won’t.

IU: What do you think is the future of "Black SF?"

TOR: We are now included in many of the mainstream science fiction films being made like “Aliens,” “The Matrix Trilogy,” and Sanaa Lathan as lead in that “Alien/Predator” movie was a major coup. We recently lost sci-fi author Octavia Butler a while ago, and there has been talk of doing one of her books as a movie for years, perhaps one day a Will Smith, Denzel, Halle or even Oprah might still do it, that would be a good thing. Who knows?

IU: Thank you for your time, Mr. Berry. We look forward to your next film!


Interview by M. Asli Dukan

© 2008 The Invisible Universe Foundation

14 May 2008

Lt. Uhura takes over the Enterprise!!!

In honor of Nichelle Nichols upcoming appearance at ECBACC 2008 this weekend in Philadelphia, I wanted to share with you an episode from Star Trek: The Animated Series. It's called "The Lorelei Signal." In it the male members of the crew are mentally and physically taken hostage by a species of potentially immortal women who need the life force of the men to survive. To rescue the crew, Lt. Uhura takes command of the Enterprise and leads a rescue team of female officers to the surface. But will they make it in time?

This is very cool to me, though I feel there is not enough of Uhura in it. I have to say though, that when Uhura speaks as leader, she speaks strongly and people listen. Note: There is a showdown between the two sets of women, with the Enterprise crew tauting their lasers on stun, but I personally would have enjoyed some hand to hand with a little of martial art technique in it. In the end, it just reminds me of how I would love to serve on a ship where "Captain Uhura" is in command. (Please note how groovy and out of worldly the soundtrack is sounding.)

What's disappointing is that apparently the producers of the series were originally not going to hire George Takei and Nichelle Nichols to voice their own characters, instead opting to use James Doohan and Majel Barrett on double duty. It seems that Leonard Nimoy refused to sign on to the project unless all the original cast members were signed on to voice their own roles. He is also sighted as saying that "Sulu and Uhura were of importance as they were proof of the ethnic diversity of the 23rd century and should not be recast" as reported in George Takei's autobiography from Pocket Books. How logical, Spock!

Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74)


The Lorelei Signal, part 1 of 3, episode 104


The Lorelei Signal, part 2 of 3, episode 104


The Lorelei Signal, part 3 of 3, episode 104

23 April 2008

Nichelle Nichols at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC)

Star Trek and Heroes star Nichelle Nichols is this year's Guest of Honor and Pioneer Award recipient at the 7th Annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia.

Come hear her speak Saturday, May 17, 2008, at 3:00 p.m on Temple University's Main Campus, Anderson Hall, 11th and Berks Streets. Please join us as Nichelle Nichols makes a rare appearance in Philadelphia at ECBACC. Tickets are $40 for the program, $25 to have an item autographed. Tickets sold online only at http://www.ecbacc.com.

ECBACC at Comicspace

11 April 2008

M. Asli Dukan interview with U People

Here is an interview I had recently with cinematographer Olive Demetrius, one half of the filmmakers creating the U People documentary project, (the other half of the team is artist extraordinaire, Hanifah Walidah who was out of town on tour.) We talk a little about the Invisible Universe project but also about my work with the two of them, specifically on the music videos "Make A Move" and "Do You Mind". Enjoy!

M. Asli Dukan interview

19 March 2008

Arthur C. Clarke 1917-2008

Science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke has passed away. He wrote numerous novels, short stories and non-fiction work but is probably best known for his novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey which was simultaneously developed into a motion picture directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1968. Many of the themes that Clarke wrote of included human evolution, aliens, communication technologies and artificial intelligence. He died In Sri Lanka, where he moved to in 1956.

Here is a link to the New York Times obituary, Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke speaks on his 90th birthday. YouTube

13 February 2008

L. A. Banks wins Essence Storyteller Award

ESSENCE's Literary Awards Winners
By Demetria Lucas

Hundreds of authors, publishing industry notables and celebrities gathered to honor the best in African-American literature at the first-annual ESSENCE Literary Awards at New York City’s Parker Meridien hotel last night. Bestselling authors Terry McMillan and Rev. T.D. Jakes, model Alek Wek, director Melvin Van Peebles and actors Lynn Whitfield (The Josephine Baker Story), Victoria Rowell (The Young and The Restless) and Jamie Hector (The Wire) were among the attendees. The event was co-hosted by Hoda Kotb (The Today Show) and Dr. Ian Smith (Celebrity Fit Club.)

“So often the African-American literrati of the world are not acknowledged,” said Whitfield, a presenter at the gala, which will kick off ESSENCE’s “Save Our Libraries” campaign to benefit the Countee Cullen Regional Library in Harlem. “You have to be in the room tonight to see how exciting it is to honor our writers.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to McMillan, who ascended to literary stardom creating African-American characters that illuminate the pivotal and dynamic roles that woman play in relationships. Her two most popular novels, Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, have sold more than six million copies.

“I don’t know where I would be without words and stories,” said McMillan who won ESSENCE’s first college-writing contest in 1974. “I’m humbled and honored to be acknowledged.”

McMillan is currently working on Getting To Happy, a follow-up to Waiting to Exhale, which will chronicle the lives of the four female characters fifteen years later.

“Terry’s phenomenal success proves that there is a huge audience of readers of African-American literature,” observed publishing matriarch and agent Marie Brown. “She’s opened publishing doors of opportunity for a new generation of African-American authors in every category.”

Rev. Jakes received The President’s Award for his faith-based, self-help work Reposition Yourself, Living Life Without Limits.

“Black literature has had an extraordinary affect on my life,” said Rev. Jakes. “I grew up listening to my mother quote Black poets and Black writers. That inspired me to have a deep appreciation for expressing my thoughts on paper.”

L.A. Banks won the Storyteller of the Year Award, which was voted on by Essence readers. Other winners included Margaret Cezair-Thompson, who received the Best Fiction Award for The Pirate’s Daughter, and Edwidge Danticat, who was honored with the Best Memoir Award for Brother I’m Dying.

ESSENCE LITERARY AWARD WINNERS
POETRY: Duende by Tracy K. Smith/Graywolf Press
CURRENT AFFAIRS: An Unbroken Agony by Randall Robinson/ Basic Civitas
PRESIDENT'S AWARD: Reposition Yourself by T.D. Jakes/Atria
PHOTOGRAPHY: Daufuskie Island by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe/University of South Carolina Press
CHILDREN'S BOOKS: Marvelous World by Troy Cle/Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing
SAVE OUR LIBRARIES: Countee Cullen Regional Library in Harlem
MEMOIR: Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat/Knopf
NON-FICTION: Supreme Discomfort by Michael Fletcher and Kevin Merida/Doubleday
INSPIRATION: Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy/Tyndale
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Terry McMillan
FICTION: The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson/Unbridled Books
STORYTELLER OF THE YEAR: L.A. Banks

Clarion West Writers Workshop

Clarion West Writers Workshop is a six week workshop that focuses on SF writing. This years instructors include Paul Park, Mary Rosenblum, Cory Doctorow, Connie Willis, Sheree Renee Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk. Workshop runs from 22 June to 1 August 2008 and the deadline for applications is 1 March 2008.

http://clarionwest.org/

http://clarionwest.org/workshop/apply

19 January 2008

Nalo Hopkinson upcoming appearences

Writer, Nalo Hopkinson will be appearing for some readings in the coming months:

1. At the Toronto Reference Library on 20 February 2008.

2. Opening night at the The Halifax International Writers Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada from 1 - 5 April 2008.

3. During the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, sometime between 17 - 20 July 2008.

Please check Nalo's website for updates on dates and times.

11 January 2008

St. Clair Bourne: 1943 - 2007

St. Clair Bourne

Documentary writer, producer and director, St. Clair Bourne recently died due to a pulmonary embolism after surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor.

First, I want to express my deepest condolences to his family. He is survived by his sister, Judy Bourne.

It seems that he touched many lives in the filmmaking world, including my own, as I learned when I joined the BDC (Black Documentary Collective) in 2007. During my first meeting, his name came up many times, affectionately, humorously and definitively.

Last year while in search of someone to become an executive producer to the IU project, I looked up St.'s website and contacted him via email. I kid you not, no less than 30 minutes later, I get a phone call from St. Clair Bourne to talk about my project! He did not know me, had never heard of my name, but told me that the project was good idea and was glad that someone was working on it. He was unable to work on IU, but did give me several leads to follow up on.

This past September, I finally was able to meet him face to face at the annual IFP market in New York City. He had just spoken on a panel and by virtue of his opinions and point of view become the odd man out on it on issues of race and ethics in documentary filmmaking. He however, never lost his cool and was always logical about his statements. I admired him for that.

St. Clair Bourne had done many tremendous projects, including but not limited to, as producer, the Emmy nominated "Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks", and as director, "John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk" and American Masters' "Paul Robeson: Here I Stand." Other subjects included Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka and themes like religion, politics, music and the Black West. He even made "Making of Do the Right Thing" a behind the scenes documentary about the production of Spike Lee's film of the same name. His works have been seen on HBO, PBS, BBC, NBC and CBS. His projects always were from an African American perspective.

There are at least a couple of ceremonies planned in his honor:

A Memorial Service will be held at 7:00 pm on the 25th of January 2008 at The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, Manhattan, with a reception following. A small group of family members, Saint’s closest friends, and a couple of his oldest and closest colleagues are involved in the planning of this celebration of his life.

A Tribute to Saint Clair Bourne
Featuring George Alexander, Nelson George, Esther Iverem, Armond White and others..
Sunday, February 10, 2:00 p.m.
Museum of the Moving Image
35 Avenue at 36th Street, Astoria, Queens, New York
(718) 784-0077 - Please call for more information.
http://www.movingimage.us/site/screenings/index.html

Break Over…

So I haven't been blogging for a while. Been a little busy doing other projects and work but the good news is, is that in the interim, I have been nominated for a grant to finish IU. Can't give any details yet, but will have some more info around April or May. Stay tuned…

01 October 2007

Delany's 40th Anniversary of The Star Pit

The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
and the
South Street Seaport Museum present
Samuel R. Delany
The 40th Anniversary Celebration of
The Star Pit

Tuesday, Oct 2nd -- Doors open 6:30 PM
Free Admission -- $5 donation if possible
South Street Seaport Museum's Melville Gallery
213 Water Street
(directions and links below)

"Two glass panes with dirt between and little tunnels from cell to cell: when
I was a kid I had an ant colony."

-- The Star Pit

Some 40 years ago, Samuel R. Delany narrated a radio adaptation of his
Hugo-nominated novella, The Star Pit, for The Mind's Eye Theatre, Baird Searles'
ongoing series of radio dramas at New York's listener-sponsored WBAI-FM. We will
celebrate the 40th anniversary of this landmark broadcast with a talk by
Delany about the making of the radio drama, and a performance of segments from the
original work.

The Star Pit was first published in the February, 1967, issue of Worlds of
Tomorrow and subsequently nominated for the Hugo Award. The ensuing radio drama
was a landmark: A sophisticated science fiction tale brought to the airwaves a
decade after most radio stations had given up on drama altogether.

Samuel R. Delany was a published science fiction author by the age of 20, and
quickly became recognized as one of the most prominent figures in literary
speculative fiction. He published nine well-regarded science fiction novels
between 1962 and 1968, as well as several prize-winning short stories (collected
in Driftglass [1971] and more recently in Aye, and Gomorrah, and Other Stories
[2002]). Among his most important novels are The Einstein Intersection, Nova,
and Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand. His tenth and most popular
novel, Dhalgren, was published in 1975. His main literary project through the late
1970s and 1980s was the four-volume Return to Nevèrÿon series.

Delany has published several autobiographical/semi-autobiographical accounts
of his life as a black and gay writer, including his Hugo award-winning
autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water. He is also the subject of a recent
film documentary, "The Polymath, or The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany,
Gentleman."

Since 1988, Delany has been a professor at several universities. He spent 11
years as a professor of comparative literature at the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst, a year and a half as an English professor at the University at
Buffalo, then moved to the English Department of Temple University in 2001,
where he has been teaching ever since. He has also published several books of
criticism, interviews, and essays, and a best-selling book, Times Square Red,
Times Square Blue (1999), about the effort to redevelop Times Square and what
it means for working-class gay men in New York City.

Press coverage: http://sfscope.com/2007/08/samuel-delany-to-celebrate-40.html

--
The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series is in its 19th season
of providing performances from some of the best writers in science fiction,
fantasy, speculative fiction, etc. (The magazine has just published its 20th
anniversary issue.) The series takes place the first Tuesday of every month at
the South Street Seaport's Melville Gallery, 213 Water Street. Admission is
free, but $5 donations are encouraged to offset costs and buy dinner for the
readers. The producer and executive curator is radio producer and talk show host
Jim Freund.

Review of last event:
http://sfscope.com/2007/09/nyrsf-reading-di-filippo-and-s.html

---
WHEN:
Tuesday, 10/2/07
Doors open at 6:30 -- readings begin at 7

WHERE:
The South Street Seaport Museum's Melville Gallery
213 Water Street (near Beekman)
http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=213+Water+Street,+New+York,+NY

HOW:
By Subway
Take 2, 3, 4, 5, J, Z, or M to Fulton Street; A and C to
Broadway-Nassau. Walk east on Fulton Street to Water Street

By Bus
Take M15 (South Ferry-bound) down Second Ave. to Fulton Street

By Car
From the West Side: take West Street southbound. Follow signs to FDR
Drive Take underpass, keep right - use Exit 1 at end of underpass. Turn
right on South Street, six blocks.
From the East Side, take FDR Drive south to Exit 3 onto South Street
Proceed about 1 mile.

By Boat
http://www.nywaterway.com/ferry/terminals/wallstreet.asp

LINKS:
http://www.hourwolf.com/nyrsf
http://www.southstseaport.org
http://www.nyrsf.com

--
The New York Review of Science Fiction magazine is celebrating its 20th
anniversary!
Subscribe or submit articles to the magazine!
New York Review of Science Fiction
PO. Box 78, Pleasantville, NY, 10570
NYRSF Magazine: http://www.nyrsf.com

24 September 2007

Invisible Universe doc seeks experienced researcher

We are seeking an experienced archive researcher to help complete the upcoming documentary about the history of representations of African Americans in the genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction literature and film.

Please forward resume and reel, if possible. References and affiliations also a plus.

Pay is negotiable.

For more info, please contact us.

Contact: M. Asli Dukan
E-mail: info@invisibleuniversedoc.com
URL: http://www.invisibleuniversedoc.com

Zoe Saldana cast as Lt. Uhura in new Star Trek film

Been away for all doing the film networking thang, but in my absence it has been announced that Zoe Saldana will be playing Lt. Uhura in J. J. Abrams' new Star Trek movie.

13 September 2007

CHANGE OF DATE!!! Invisible Universe Documentary

Date Changed from: Friday, September 14, 2007
Date Changed to: Saturday, November 17, 2007
Time and Location: TBA

For further inquires please contact: Shay Sellars @
POC Doc Film Development, Inc. phone: 917.776.5022
e-mail: pocdocinstitute@yahoo.com


Donate now!

12 September 2007

Invisible Universe fundraiser postponed!!!

Hello Supporters,

The Invisible Universe fundraiser scheduled for Friday, 14 September
2007 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem
has been officially postponed until a later date, tba.

We apologize for any confusion and will keep you updated.

Many thanks to all our supporters and please keep spreading the word
about the Invisible Universe documentary.

http://www.invisibleuniversedoc.com

M. Asli Dukan

Donate now!

--
M. Asli Dukan
Producer/Director/Editor

06 August 2007

Invisible Universe trailer

Invisible Universe trailer by M. Asli Dukan (4:59 min)

Invisible Universe Fundraiser information

Please join M. Asli Dukan/The Invisible Universe Foundation and POC Doc Film Development, Inc. to support the completion of the new documentary film

Invisible Universe: a history of blackness in speculative fiction

Friday, September 14, 2007
6:30 to 8:30pm
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Avenue @ 135th Street)
New York, New York 10037

Cocktails ● Hors d’oeuvres ● Sneak preview of the film with director M. Asli Dukan and special guests.

Please print and return this form with your check or go to Purchase Invisible Universe Fundraiser Tickets here! for ticket purchase.
Advance reservations only. No ticket sales at door. No tickets will be mailed.

 Executive Producer ● $5,000 ● 8 tickets, program listing, screen credit
 Hyper Giant Star ● $2,000 ● 4 tickets, program listing, screen credit
 Super Giant Star ● $1,000 ● 2 tickets, program listing, screen credit
 Bright Giant Star ● $500 ● 1 ticket, program listing, screen credit
 Giant Star ● $250 ● 1 ticket + program listing
 Star ● $100 ● general admissions
 I/We would like ___ ticket(s) in the categories checked above
 I/We would like our gift to be anonymous.
 I/We cannot attend. Please accept my/our fully tax-deductible donation of $_____________.

NAME (as you would like it to appear in the program) ___________________________________________________________

ADDRESS ______________________________________________________________________________________________

CITY, STATE, ZIP _______________________________________________________________________________________

TELEPHONE _______________________________ E-MAIL ___________________________________________________

 Enclosed is my check for $_________________
 Enclosed is my completed Matching Gift Form.
 Please contact me about donating silent auction items.
 Please contact me about potential donors to the film.

IMPORTANT! Please make check payable to our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas with “IU” written in the “in behalf of” memo field, and return by mail to: M. Asli Dukan/The Invisible Universe Foundation, (contact for address) Contact for IU address

For more information, contact Shay Sellars at Poc Doc Film Development, Inc. at (917) 776-5022 or by e-mail at For more Invisible Universe info Check out our website at Invisible Universe website

If you can not attend the fundraiser and would still like to donate via credit card, please visit the Invisible Universe Foundation webpage at our fiscal sponsor’s website at Invisible Universe donation page

Invisible Universe is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Invisible Universe may be made payable to Fractured Atlas. The value of admittance is $50.00. Any contribution above that amount is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Universe: a history of blackness in speculative fiction explores the relationship between the Black body and popular fantasy, horror and science fiction literature and film and the alternative perspectives produced by creators of color. This documentary features interviews with major writers, scholars, artists and filmmakers and explores comics, television, film and literature by deconstructing stereotyped images of Black people in the genres. The Invisible Universe documentary ultimately reveals how Black creators have been consciously creating their own universe.

Invisible Universe needs your help! In order to continue this important work, we will need to secure considerable financial support. Your contribution of any size will help make this groundbreaking documentary a reality. Since 2003, the filmmakers have been traveling to conduct interviews nationwide and have been incurring mounting expenses for travel, equipment and supplies to finish this project, most of it coming out of the filmmakers' pockets. We have already accumulated hours of footage and believe with your help, we can bring this feature length documentary to life!


HONORARY COMMITTEE

Linda Addison
Author, Being Full of Light, Insubstantial

Steven Barnes
Author, Lion’s Blood & Zulu Heart

Angel L. Brown
Founder, Our Story Productions

Allison Caviness
Founder, Lesida Film Center

Pete Chatmon
Ceo, Double 7 Film Productions

Sandi Dubowski
Director, Trembling Before G-d

Frances Gateward
Professor of Cinema Studies
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

William & Louise Greaves
William Greeves Productions

Eileen Gunn
Board member, Clarion West Writers Workshop
Editor & Publisher, The Infinite Matrix

Dr. Charles Johnson
Professor, University of Washington

Imagenation Film and Music Festival
Moikgantsi Kgama, Founder & Executive Director
Greg Gates, Executive Producer

Edna Lima
Mestranda (Master), ABADA-Capoeira

Zola Mumford
Curator, The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

Sheree R. Thomas
Editor, The Dark Matter anthologies, Black Pot Mojo

Cecil Washington
Writer, Cecilwashington.com

Yumy Odom
Founder, 1st World Komix, Inc., ECBACC

William H. Foster III
Professor, Historian, Looking For a Face Like Mine

Maurice Waters,
Founder, ECBACC
Moderator, BlackSciFi.com

HOST COMMITTEE

Shenelle Easton-Foster

Rachel Kadushin
BestFriendsProductions.com

02 August 2007

New York Movie Pirate First to be charged with Tougher Camcorder Law

I produced a short film earlier this year about the results of the city of New York being bought out by a major corporation and becoming a police state. Is New York City actually in the early throes of becoming a real police state? What with all the undercover operations, quality of life laws and tougher laws, fines and imprisonments, especially when commerce is at play, I think it is easy to imagine.

And on another Black SF level… please notice that an apparently African man (or Pirate) is the first to "die" in this new dystopian nightmare.

***

From The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting

August 1, 2007 - A New York area man was arrested by New York City police officers prior to the July Fourth holiday for illegally camcording Dreamworks/Paramount’s Transformers on its opening day in a Bronx movie theater. The defendant is the first to be charged under an amended law passed by the City Council and signed into law May 1 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that increases penalties for individuals caught recording theatrical films in New York City. The defendant, Kalidou Diallo, faces up to six months imprisonment, fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and a civil penalty up to $5,000.

“Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council have provided New York City police officers with a critical tool to help put movie thieves out of business,” said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). “The New York City economy has much to gain by tackling the monumental problem of movie piracy, and we are especially grateful to the members of the NYPD's Organized Crime Control Bureau for pursuing these crimes with the diligence they require.”

Increased security and surveillance in movie theaters throughout New York City for the summer blockbuster movie season led to the arrest of Diallo who was observed camcording the film by security personnel in the American Theater. Police officers detained Diallo and seized a camcorder and other equipment that he had concealed inside his jacket. Diallo had recorded the entire film and admitted to having illegally recorded other films in the past.

“This tough new law gives us stiff penalties that fit the severity of the crime,” said John Feinblatt, the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Coordinator. “We’re going to keep the heat on the pirates so that the artists who make up our film industry can continue to thrive.”

The MPAA estimates that in 2006, New York City theaters were the origin of 43% of camcorder-source pirated DVDs tracked in the United States, and 20% of pirated movies seized globally.

“Movie piracy is a crime that hurts the City’s economy and the thousands of individuals of who make their living in the film industry,” said Commissioner Katherine Oliver of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting (MOFTB). “The swift action on this recent illegal camcording activity clearly demonstrates the City’s commitment to eradicating this crime.”

According to a recent study commissioned by the MPAA, the New York motion picture industry suffers an estimated $1.49 billion in lost output annually resulting in 22,986 fewer jobs and $903 million in lost earnings as a consequence of global and local piracy of motion pictures. The MPAA-commissioned study found that $637 million in total annual retail sales in New York are lost due to global and local piracy, resulting in a loss of $50 million in State and City sales taxes.

01 August 2007

Race, the final frontier article in the Boston Globe

Small mention about the Invisible Universe documentary.
***
Race, the final frontier
Black science-fiction writers bring a unique perspective to the genre
The Boston Globe
By Vanessa E. Jones, Globe Staff | July 31, 2007

Earlier this month at Readercon, a convention for fans of fantasy/science fiction at the Burlington Marriott, Marlin May was one of perhaps two blacks in the room. But that didn't intimidate May. He had just made arrangements to meet a science-fiction writer for dinner, showing how much comfort this fan had found in this world.

"They're the most accepting group of folks I've ever been with," says May, 47, of Lowell.

But Eon Harry, a black man who lives in Somerville, has had a different experience. "I don't feel particularly embraced," says Harry, 41. No sense of community enveloped him when he attended Readercon for the first time last year, though he's not sure whether race or some other factor is to blame.

"I find that readers are an insular lot," Harry says. "It may have had as much to do with the fact that I was a new face."

The June release of "Acacia," the first of a planned trilogy of fantasy books by black historical-fiction writer David Anthony Durham, brought attention to the small number of black writers toiling in what is sometimes called speculative fiction, and the people who read their work. The media took note of Durham as one of only a handful of black authors in the genre. That small group includes veteran Samuel R. Delany and the late Octavia Butler, as well as younger voices such as Nalo Hopkinson, Steven Barnes, and Tananarive Due, and respected writers who have also dabbled in speculative fiction such as Walter Mosley and the late W.E.B. Du Bois.

It's an area of fiction that has allowed writers to tackle sensitive issues of race and culture.

"It has always been the safe genre to talk about those issues," Harry says, "or it had been for years until there was a lot more tolerance for bringing those things up in the mainstream."

But some in the speculative-fiction community complain that a number of their white contemporaries no longer tackle these subjects. Durham, a former Shutesbury resident, was inspired to move into fantasy writing because he saw potential there that others failed to tap into.

"In epic fantasy," says Durham, 38, whose novel is populated by a diverse crowd that includes blond warriors and olive-skinned beauties, "there is a lot of racism and sexism I don't think the good people who are writing it are aware of."

In the last decade, sci-fi/fantasy fans of color have begun creating their own communities. These spaces are necessary in a world where they stand out as geeks among blacks, and as "the other" in the speculative-fiction world. There are conferences such as 2004's "Black to the Future: A Black Science Fiction Festival" in Seattle, and Web communities such as SciFiNoir (groups.yahoo.com/group/scifi noir2), the Carl Brandon Society (carlbrandon.org), and Afrofuturism (afrofuturism.net). The books "Dark Matter" and "Visions of the Third Millennium" show that the black contribution to science fiction goes beyond the well-known names of Delany and Butler. M. Asli Dukan is finishing a documentary about this unique community called "Invisible Universe: A History of Blackness in Speculative Fiction."

"It's tiny," says Nalo Hopkinson, 46, from her Toronto home, of the black sci-fi community. "And it's happening in an environment in which, particularly in the US, to talk about race is to be seen as racist. You become the problem because you bring up the problem. So you find people who are hesitant to talk about it."

It's also complicated. In his essay in "Dark Matter" titled "Racism and Science Fiction," Delany writes about how race constricts black writers. He describes being paired with Hopkinson during a book signing at Readercon in 1998, and how grouping blacks together can affect how they're perceived. "One of [racism's] strongest manifestations is as a socio-visual system in which people become used to always seeing blacks with other blacks and so -- because people are used to it -- being uncomfortable whenever they see blacks mixed in, at whatever proportion, with whites," he wrote.

The tendency to lump all black speculative fiction writers together also fails to acknowledge that these authors don't always tackle racial issues in their work. Robert Devney, 55, a longtime fan who attended the Readercon convention, calls Delany's "Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand" one of his favorite novels. But Devney, who is white, says of Delany's approach to race, "It's occasionally a point he wants to make and many times it isn't a point he wants to make."

But it's hard to ignore the impact that perspectives of color bring to the genre.

"There's not all that many writers yet who can write from the perspective of another race," says Lis Carey, vice president of the New England Science Fiction Association, "and really capture the different kinds of experiences and the different perspectives. If someone is using characters of a different race than themselves and it matters, there's a good chance of it feeling slightly off."

Harry discovered the world of black sci-fi writers accidentally. Friends suggested that he read Butler and Delany, but he hadn't heard about Durham's "Acacia" or about the various websites catering to black sci-fi fans. Harry believes part of the problem is that bookstores often don't prominently display the works of non-white writers in the genre.

"I sort of felt like, 'Wow, I would actually read these people if, A, I knew they were black authors and, B, they were given some shelf space,' " says Harry.

"Black authors bring certain elements into their writing, be it a black protagonist or the situations they find themselves in or even their backgrounds [that] I find easy to relate to," says Harry. "It's not only the blackness of it . . . they often strike really familiar chords that the other authors, because those things aren't part of their own experience, don't hit for me when I'm reading them."

He offers as an example Butler's "Parable of the Sower," whose strong black heroine, Lauren Olamina, battles the ills of society by creating a new faith. "When I read it," says Harry, "I remember thinking the way [Olamina] spoke and the way she held herself reminded me of my aunt and a lot of her opinions."

That connection may not be felt when reading white writers in the genre. While Ursula Le Guin populates her books with diverse characters, writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert Heinlein have been castigated for depictions that some consider racist. "The main mythic story is going to a foreign culture and colonizing it," says Hopkinson. He adds that blacks are part of a growing speculative writing community that includes gays, women, the working class, and other people of color, all of whom offer new takes on the colonialist perspective.

In fact, "Acacia" had been in the back of Durham's mind since the late 1990s. What spurred him to embark on the project was "The Lord of the Rings" films. Durham watched the three movies multiple times, and became increasingly irritated by the almost mono-racial cast of characters.

"I did not love it," Durham says, "that the only people of color who didn't have speaking lines were the minions imported for the dark lords."

27 July 2007

URGENT!!! PICTURE NEW YORK!!!

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Subject: Press Release - “Picture New York” Formed In Response to Mayor's Plans to Limit Cameras

For Immediate Release
Contacts: Lisa Guido (917) 573-2282 Julie Talen (through July 31) (212) 226-4651

PICTURENEWYORK.ORG
email Picture New York

Artists Band Together to Fight Restrictions on Street Photography

"Picture New York" Formed In Response to Mayor's Plans to Limit Cameras

YouTube "Video Public Comments" to be Submitted to Mayor's Office

NEW YORK CITY: Picture New York WITHOUT pictures of New York. The most photographed city in the world is about to be shut down visually by proposed regulations which would basically make it illegal to film or tape in NYC without a permit and a million dollars of insurance.

An overnight, massive grassroots fight against these proposed regulations has sprung up under the name 'Picture New York.' Fighting back with YouTube videos, petitions, handwritten letters, a website, Flickr space and a rally and press conference this Friday in Union Square, this ad-hoc group of working artists, photographers and filmmakers vow to stop the regulations going into effect as scheduled in September from the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting (MOFTB).

Albert Maysles, Patti Smith, Michael Stipe and Amy Arbus are among the celebrated artists who have already signed on to demand the MOFTB extend the period of public comment, currently ending August 3, and eliminate the proposed regulations: 11 pages of single-spaced rules where none existed before.

Jem Cohen, the critically-acclaimed filmmaker whose alarmed e-mail prompted the first formal meeting of concerned filmmakers, says, "Because street photography is, by its very nature, inextricably born out of free and random movement through the city, street photographers cannot know exactly where and when they intend to work, or for how long. One cannot regulate an art form or activity by negating its very premise. The proposed rules, in refusing to recognize the spontaneity which is at the core of street photography, are untenable for that reason alone."

"I already have a permit for my camera," says another of the group's founders, Beka Economopoulos. "It's called the First Amendment."

Since the Mayor's Office has asked for public comments, Picture New York has come up a new form: the Video Public Comment. The first - perhaps ever - Video Public Comment has already been posted to YouTube by artist Juliana Luecking and more will follow. Picture New York wants to invite anyone who loves the city and their camera to make one and post it. (To learn how to make a Video Public Comment, please see the website at pictureny.org.)

The proposed regulations will affect every kind of filming and photography in the city, aside from artists. Industrials, fashion, wedding and architectural photographers will need a permit and insurance for anything that takes more than a half hour and two people to shoot. A film school graduate with a camcorder, four friends and a dream will now have to pay the same fee to New York City to shoot as HBO does – because the regs include anything that takes more than 10 minutes to shoot with a tripod. Even parents making home movies in public parks would fall under the new rules.

As the Daily News says the regulations "are, in a word, nuts. . . "They were written as if small bands of rogue photographers were running amok. And they won't withstand court challenge unless the cops come down equally on everyone taking pictures, including mom and dad filming junior and pals at the playground." The conservative New York Sun agrees: "It would be a sad day if New York became a place where a family has to get a permit before making a home video."

The proposed rules are reminiscent of the MTA's failed attempt to ban photography in the subways two years ago. "If we can take photographs underground without permits," points out television producer Susan Marcoux, "we certainly should be able to take them above ground."

"This is micro-management of public space taken to an absurd level. What are the police going to do – time people holding cameras?" asks Eileen Clancy of I-Witness Video who has written about conflicts between police and camera people after September 11th. "These new rules give the police another excuse to arrest anybody they don't like with a camera."

These regulations violate the First Amendment right to photograph in public places, points out the NYCLU, and follow a slew of recent laws that already restrict rights in New York City to parade, dance, meet, bike, shout, and assemble. Draconian noise ordinances and the new parade and assembly laws make constitutionally-protected dissent almost impossible. Now, with regulations on street photography, New York City adds yet another infringement on civil liberties and free expression, which is why Picture New York will be participating in a press conference and First Amendment-themed rally at Union Square at 6:30pm this Friday, July 27.

* Friday, July 27, 2007 6:30pm - First Amendment Rally with Rev. Billy north end of Union Square Park

PICTURENEWYORK.ORG
email Picture New York
Mayor's Office on Film proposed regulations text

View signatures on ePetition
Union Square Rally: Friday, July 27 PICTURENEWYORK.ORG

Daily News and The NY Sun editorials links:
NY DAILY NEWS

Juliana Luecking's YouTube response to the proposed regulations

26 July 2007

Invisible Universe video podcast seeks on-air host!!!

The Invisible Universe Foundation is producing a video podcast and is seeking an on-air host to cover conferences, conventions, book readings/signings and to be the in-studio host of the show!

Candidate must be enthusiastic and personable! Female or male. Any age. Any ethnicity. Must live in the New York City area. Having an interest in SF in general would be a plus!

If you are interested, please send headshot and resume to info@invisibleuniversedoc.com.

Eventual eligible candidates will need a video sample of their work in the future.

"Cavemen show not a racial metaphor…"

Thought this article might be of some interest to you all…

By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer

Producers: `Cavemen' Not Racial Metaphor

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- The producers of ABC's new "Cavemen" said Wednesday the comedy is much more than the insurance company commercials that inspired it, but isn't designed to be an ambitious allegory about race.

Check out the rest of the story at this link here:

Cavemen story at AP

-mad

20 July 2007

L. A. Banks at Harlem Book Fair/Hue-man Bookstore in Harlem

This weekend L. A. Banks will be in my old homestead, Harlem, New York City promoting her new novel in the Vampire Huntress Legend Series, The Cursed. The Cursed is the 9th novel in the series and here begins Armeggedon in the world of Damali, the Neteru. Check her out at the Harlem Book Fair on Saturday, 21 July 2007 (time/place: ???) and at the Hue-man bookstore in Harlem on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 2pm.

In the meanwhile, check out these great videos inspired by the world of the VHL!!!









-mad

16 July 2007

Samuel R. Delany to appear at Clarion Summer Reading Series

(from Clarionwest.org)

http://clarionwest.org/website/cat_readings/

The 2007 Clarion West Summer Reading Series

Come hear our 2007 instructors read Tuesday evenings in June and July as part of Clarion West's Annual Summer Reading Series. Admission is now free - so be sure to take advantage of this great chance to hear live presentations of new and forthcoming work from some of speculative fiction's top authors and editors.

All readings start at 7:30 p.m. and take place in the JBL Theater in the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame at 325 Fifth Avenue North, near Seattle Center.

Samuel R. Delany is arguably the most daring, wide-ranging, word-drunk, idea-besotted writer of science fiction and fantasy that the U.S. has ever produced. In his 45-year professional career, he has extensively explored issues of language, gender, race, sexuality, power, and otherness. Author of Dhalgren, Babel-17, and numerous novels, stories, and critical and philosophical works including his new novel Dark Reflections, he never fails to deliver a dynamic evening. One of a handful of African American SF authors, he has won numerous national and international awards including the Hugo and Nebula, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002. Delany is Clarion West's 2007 Susan C. Petrey Fellow.

Appearing Tuesday, July 24.

10 July 2007

An Un-Flashy new Flash Gordon Series

SCI FI Channel, Reunion Pictures and RHI International are in production on a new incarnation of the Flash Gordon Series, set to air on SCI FI Channel sometime this summer. The new series stars Smallville's Eric Johnson as Flash Gordon, who describes the character not as a superhero but as a "regular guy trying to do the right thing." In an interview with Entertainment Weekly.com, Johnson goes on to describe the other changes written into the storyline that the execs and writers thought would make a 1930's originated Flash character more relevant to a modern day 2007 audience. Flash's claim to fame professional Polo career has been forfeited for that of a marathon athlete, as well as making Flash a car lover who works on them probably as a hobby. Flash's historical adversary, "Ming the Merciless" is still present. This time, however, due to modern day "racial sensibilities", the alien character Ming will no longer be known as "the merciless" and will be portrayed as white by white Canadian actor, John Ralston. (Note: Ming the Merciless was portrayed by white American actor, Charles Middleton in the serials and white Swedish actor, Max Von Sydow in the 1980 film version) As SCI FI Channel's executive vice president, Mark Stern, put it, they wanted to stay away from any of the issues of race in the new show. Stern goes on to describe the original Ming character as thin and one dimensional and said they wanted to replace him with someone charming and blond. How quaint!

And how convenient the paradigms of racism and double standards are in the world SF entertainment. SF often reflects the moods and thoughts of the time in which it was created and Flash Gordon is no different. First of all the original justification of the character's adventure and the hero worship of Flash Gordon was premised on a racist stereotype. Ming the Merciless is a character originating in American and European mythology, as a figure of the Asian as a physical, social, sexual and/or racial inferior type, bent on overrunning Western autonomy. The thin and one dimensional character type, though technically an alien in the series was created in the minds of white men because of their fear and hatred of Asians and which came to be known as the Yellow Peril. It was based on earlier, character types created by white writers, that eventually culminated into the infamous, "Fu Manchu" character, the role model of Ming the Merciless. Ming is still and will always be grounded in a racist thought and be a reminder of that ignorance. It's like exclaiming "nigga" is not the same as saying "nigger." It doesn't really get to the reason of why the terminology was created in the first place. My opinion is if the executives responsible for the creation of the new and "re-imagined" version of Flash Gordon were really honest with their intentions to not offend the "racial sensibilities" of todays modern audience, they would take a leap and re-imagine Flash Gordon as a non-white character. How about Flash Gordon as an citizen of the United States of Chinese or Japanese descent? I honestly don't know if that really would justify bringing the series back either.

-mad

See links:
Flash Avoids Stereotypes
EW.com's First Look: Flash Gordon
On Yellow Peril Thrillers
Wikipedia's Flash Gordon page
Flash Gordon press release

06 July 2007

Vampire Huntress Legends Video Contest!!! deadline extended

I think this is a fabulous idea!!! (from Banks' July newsletter)

L. A. Banks is extending her Vampire Huntress Legends - video contest!

THE VAMPIRE HUNTRESS LEGENDS™ Video Contest – It is still not too late !!!!!! Enter to win Today. Deadline Extended to September 20, 2007 !

Enter to win Today!

Have you ever read one of the VHL books, or one of the gripping scenes in the series and felt like it should be a movie? Well here's your chance to shine! Whip out your digital video cameras and open up your creative imaginations--we want to see what comes out of the minds of VHL readers! In our first ever VHL video contest, you have a chance to win a VHL Oscar for a short film posted on YOUTUBE from 30 seconds to 2 minutes long. We'd like to see your creative take on any characters from the series that are your favorites, any scenes that you'd like to recreate, or even a montage of scenes from the whole series--it's your video. Rules of the contest can be found at:

http://www.vampire-huntress.com/vhlvideocontestrules.html

Winners will receive a VHL Award, will be listed on the website, and also receive mention in the acknowledgment of the next book forthcoming in the Vampire Huntress Legends series. This contest runs from May through June 15th, with winners being announced late in October, 2007. Once you've made and uploaded your video and read the rules, go to the VHL Video Contest Entry Page and enter all the required details and submit.