Olu Gittens Takes a ‘Chance’ on Comedy Stage Play

I am currently working as the Co-Director for TRUST NO ONE, the latest play by writer-director-producer Chance Anderson, who is also starring in the play. TRUST NO ONE is a comedy about two best friends, a gay man and straight woman, who fall for the same guy — a food delivery man with a shady past.

TRUST NO ONE, the stage comedy by Chance Anderson

As we all know from the Talented Tyler Perry, multi-talented directors can wear many hats in a production. As Assistant Director for TRUST NO ONE, my job on the project is to help the director achieve his vision; give feedback, directions and professional support at rehearsals, and help foster an environment where actors can connect and take risks.

The project has a strong cast, laugh-out-loud script with an intriguing plot, and a strong spirit of collaboration, all of which are making the work I do that much more enjoyable.

I am sure that TRUST NO ONE will win over audiences, and I am very excited to see TRUST NO ONE come to life.

Opening dates to be announced.

-O.G.

LINKS:

WhatsTheT.org

TRUST NO ONE promo piece

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TV Takes Over at New York Television Festival

Inspired by the independent film movement, the New York Television Festival (NYTVF), now in its sixth year, is a year-round talent incubator that culminates with a week-long showcase of creative television. This year I attended some events and checked out a diverse array of innovative new work.

A few highlights included:

  • The Independent Pilot Competition Works featured works by filmmakers with small screen dreams. OB/GY Anne, an offbeat comedy about a female gynecologist working for her family practice, won the IPC Best Writing award.
  • Stand up comedian Mike Maron, who has a huge following in the indie comic scene, was headlined in the Opening Night Comedy Extravaganza.  His pilot WTF, about middle-aged man’s growing pains as he navigates the waters of “real” adulthood, was loosely based on his own life as host of a weekly podcast with the same title.
  • NYTVF and NBCUniversal co-presented Short Cuts, a festival showcase that displays and celebrates diversity in entertainment with works in comedy, drama, horror and sci fi. Founder and comedian Wil Sylvince and Festival Director Kendra Carter, whose work as Director of Talent Diversity Initiatives for NBC includes spearheading several groundbreaking initiatives, ushered in the 6th annual festival which was hosted by the hilarious J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm).

There were many more works, including shows sponsored be major networks, featured in the festival. For more info, check out NYTVF.com.

Congrats to all the filmmakers and TV producers featured in the fest!

-O.G.

LINKS:

New York Television Festival (NYTVF.com)

NBC Short Cuts Festival

Fearless Filmmaking at Urbanworld 2011

l to r: NaShawn Kearse, Phyllis Toben Bancroft, Bianca LaVerne Jones, Josef Cannon and Jas Anderson.

Quite naturally, I attended this year’s BET-presented Urbanworld Film Festival presented in New York City, a world renowned showcase of filmmakers of color. There were dozens of great films that people were raving about and lining up to see, and the films I saw were incredible.

Yelling to the Sky, starring Zoe Kravitz and Gabby Sidibe and directed by Victoria Mahoney, is a coming-of-age story about a troubled teen girl who fights to survive a tough neighborhood and home life. Closing night film Kinyarwanda showed young love across tribal lines in the backdrop of the Rwanda Genocide; it was directed by filmmaker Alrick Brown and is part of the Ava DuVernay-led AFFRM film releasing movement, in partnership with Urbanworld.

actress Bianca LaVerne Jones (l) and filmmaker Olu Gittens (r)

I also caught an impressive lineup of short films with riveting stories that gripped the audience. Karim, directed by Carl Seaton (One Week), with orchestral music and absolutely no dialogue, is a darkly poetic story of justice and retribution. Burned, directed by BET Lens on Talent winner Phyllis Toben Bancroft (Spent) showed a female veteran, played by Bianca LaVerne Jones, struggling with alcoholism and PTSD; noted Hollywood actor Eric Roberts made a key appearance in the story. In The Boxer, directed by David Au and Teddy Chen Culver, who also starred, a young Asian-American boxer gets schooled by his ailing grandfather. In Geoff Bailey’s Counterfeit, a naive African street vendor finds out the hard way that anyone can be hustled. And in The Tombs, feature film director Jerry LaMothe (Amour Infinity, Blackout) tells the compelling story of a black man in NYC spending three days in a notorious holding area for the recently arrested, and the psychological torture incurred. The Tombs’ cast of noted actors included veteran actor Arthur French.

There were many more films and television series premieres, as you can find out at urbanworld.com. I have to say it was a very good year.

Shout out to Urbanworld Executive Producer Gabrielle Glore and Founder Stacy Spikes!

-O.G.

Hamptons Black International Film Festival Opening Night

I was on the scene for the opening night of the Hamptons Black International Film Fesival, which takes place at venues in Manhattan, and Sag Harbor andMontauk, Long Island.

Opening night films were Obama’s Irish Roots, directed by Gabriel Murray of Ireland, which traces part of President Barak Obama’s ancestry to Ireland, andthe Burkina Faso documentary Kôglb-zanga directed by Ilboudo Yalgabama, forwhich Prince Wendemi, a fighter for social justice, was in attendance.

The festivities also featured performers from the Festival’s children and theArts Program, including talented teen singer Dylan Jenet Collins and young violin virtuoso Claudius Agrippa.

Shout out to Executive Director Princess Angelique Monet and film curator Rashid Bahati!

-O.G.

Hamptons Black International Film Fesival,  HBIFF.org