Still Thanking Black Starz 11 Years Later

When the month of March rolls around, I get flashbacks. You see, while this site is just under a year-and-a-half old, media –specifically film– has intrigued me for the better part of 11 years. It’s been this fascination with moving images and the stories behind them, that has left me like a small boy chasing a dream that always seems just beyond the horizon. It all started rather simply.

March of 2002 was an interesting time. I was 6 months into my freshman year of high school, my Oakland Raiders were a winning and respectable organization, and I was witnessing a miracle at the Meadowlands as Jason Kidd was leading the then New Jersey Nets on a path to the NBA Finals. It was also the time when my family upgraded from basic cable to digital cable. I had never seen so many channels before in my life. As great as the sheer volume of channels were, it was the included movie packages that caught my attention.

One of those packages was the Starz package. It was 5 channels of the Starz network and one of those channels was strictly dedicated to people of color. It was called Black Starz and it opened my eyes to a world of cinema I had never seen before. Seeing people who looked like me headlining movies on a 24/7 basis made me wonder why there wasn’t more diversity in Hollywood in the first place. It wasn’t just feature films shown on Black Starz, but shorts and documentaries as well. Ultimately, it left me with the impression that there should be more of these films shown.

From there I began writing down the films each month that had the greatest impact on me. I called the list my ‘Movies of the Month’ list. Movies such as: “To Sir With Love II,” “Love Jones,” “Joe & Max,” “Against the Wall,” and “House Party,” were just some of the few that I wrote down. Later, I would take a few documentary courses under the journalism department at my college, getting my feet wet in the industry.

Since graduating, I’ve been able to work on documentaries, shorts, features, music videos, and now a webisode. Each time learning something new and meeting new people. Now I watch movies with a whole different perspective than I did as a teenager. Once you’ve been behind the scenes and see the amount of work that goes into making a movie, you have a whole different level of appreciation for the craft.

After a few years of working on various projects (and doing odd jobs in the process to pay the bills) I started FilmSwag in the fall of 2011. I’ve certainly learned a lot and am still learning. In the 11 years since viewing Black Starz, the technology has come a long away. It’s never been easier to start filming your own projects. HD video was not readily available to many in ’02, now most cell phones come equipped with 720p or 1080p cameras. Youtube has opened up the platform immensely for aspiring filmmakers. And the rise of social media like Twitter and Facebook have made it easier to connect with one another in record time around the globe. So now in 2013 as there are many more avenues for our stories to be told, I continue to keep learning as much as possible, just like when I started out 11 years ago.

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