MIAMI — African-American filmmakers and TV producers will meet during a power packed session to discuss making their mark in the booming television and film industry in South Florida. The strategic gathering will take place from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m., on Friday, June 21, at the Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr. in Miami Beach.
On the heels of one of the largest black film festivals, the 17th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) coming to Miami June 19 – 23, members of the Florida Entertainment Connection (FEC) say they aim to take a unified stance regarding their future in South Florida so they can witness creative growth in the African-American community.
“Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach are attractive locales for filmmakers because of the weather and affordable real estate,” said Attorney Ayodele Vassall-Gore, owner of We Kan Tou Entertainment LLC, and founder and coordinator of the FEC.
“However, we want filmmakers to migrate to South Florida because of their excitement about access to the talent and savvy business professionals in the region who are eager to hone their craft and expand this segment of the entertainment industry.”
According to Vassall-Gore, FEC is building awareness of the value that the South Florida entertainment community possess, providing writers, producers, directors, editors and musicians a seat at the table to proactively create their own destiny and help navigate the uncharted waters of the film and TV industries.
“Every time we as filmmakers shoot in a new region, it’s like the first day of school. You don’t know anyone, you have no idea where to go, it’s terrible,” said Danielle Ross, who runs Independent Hollywood out of Los Angeles, California. “This event is the perfect way to bridge the gap between LA and Miami.”
FEC also wants to give exposure to the underutilized gems in South Florida such as G-Star Studios in Palm Beach County and the incentives in Broward County. FEC initiatives include seminars, IMDB qualifying training, and strengthening the bridge between musicians and filmmakers.
“We look for opportunities to develop visual content for brands in our hometown,” said Kevin Kedroe and Noelle Barnes of Knead Creative. Kedroe and Barnes reside in New York, are products of The New World School of the Arts in Miami, and are
winners of the 2009 HBO/ABFF Short Film Award. “This event brings together a network of resources that will help our most treasured productions come to life.”
The Florida Entertainment Connection is confident that its members will soon get the same respect from the media as directors Michael Bay, Oliver Stone, James Cameron, Brett Ratner, Mara & Salim Akil, Christopher Nolan, and Ava Duvernay. They are hoping that their collective advocacy for the industry will open doors and wallets so they can produce blockbuster movies and television hits.
“This effort is long overdue,” said Darren Saunders, a filmmaker who last year won ABFF’s Community Showcase. “Meeting others in the industry will only strengthen my business because I’ll have a larger pool of professionals who can help shape and mold my films.”