Talking film “The Intouchables” with LET’S TALK FILM

I had a fun time joining the women of Let’s Talk Film, a television series where contemporary women get a chance to have their voices heard on the latest film releases. Hosted by Stefanie Alleyne and produced by Denise Goines, Let’s Talk Film is broadcast in Manhattan on MNN-TV and its full episodes are also posted online.

The Intouchables film
The Intouchables starring Omar Sy and François Cluzet

My co-panelists and I munched on macroons at the Love Peace Cafe in Tribeca as we mulled over this moving film told with a light touch and interesting insights on race and class in contemporary Paris. Directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache with great chemistry and wonderful performances by  François Cluzet and Omar Sy (winner of France’s prestigious Cesar award), The Intouchables was a huge hit in France but hasn’t really gotten its footing among audiences in the U.S.

Let's Talk Film-The Intouchables
Let’s Talk Film host Stefanie Alleyne and panelists Valerie Peterson, Olu Gittens and Yael Reed

Word of a Weinstein Brothers remake has peaked some interest; I wonder if the cultural nuances and emotional integrity of the original will translate?

I recommend seeing this gem in its original form when it comes out on home video; The Intouchables DVD release date to be announced.

-O.G.

LINK:

Review of The Intouchables at Let’s Talk Film

Adventures in Multi-Camera Televsion Part XII: Studio Camera Person for TV’s “The Jump”

Working as studio camera person for TV’s The Jump and other shows on MNN-TV has influenced my work as a multi-camera director. 

The Jump, produced by Vaughn Oliver’s DJTR Media & Production Company and broadcast on the country’s largest public access station MNN-TV, showcases a beautiful and eclectic array of musical talent. Live bands perform in studio under the best lighting, sound, camera work and direction money can’t buy. Vaughn Oliver transformed the studio into a space comparable to notable shows on network and pay cable television. The Jump is public access’ answer to PBS’ Great Performances and MTV’s Unplugged.

It’s been great being part of a team that was encouraged to take risks: deliberately soft focus shots; deep close-ups; panning, zooming and trucking; dissolves; straight cuts, and starlight filters were all techniques we employed under masterful direction by Vaughn Oliver and others.

Check out some of the episodes of The Jump that I worked as camera person for. You can see me in the show’s opening in the control room on the right :)

The Jump Season 2, Episode 2
Musical Guest Sarah Renfro f. Michelle Casillas

The Jump Season 2, Episode 1
Musical Guest Christina Lee and band

The Jump Season 1, Episode 1
Musical Guest “Gringa”f. Jessica Sarles

Shout out to Vaughn Oliver, hosts Ohene Cornelius & Jen Kwok and The Jump’s amazing crew!

Adventures in Multi-Camera Televsion Part XI: Olu Gittens Multi-Cam Reels I and II

Multi-Camera Reel I
Drama, Soap Opera

Rehearsing actors, leading crew, envisioning lighting, determining shots, editing on the fly, sound design and editing were all skills I utilized to make the award-winning series CHOICES on which my multi-camera reel is based.
Also viewable on YouTube at youtu.be/UWQGVbvVhRc

Multi-Camera Reel II
Talk Show, News, Live Music

Talk shows, news/public affairs and live music formats, all shot in studio as Multi-Camera Director and Technical Director for “Education Matters,” “The RTS Club” and “Different Voices”, and more.
Also viewable on YouTube at http://youtu.be/3SS3TBJTQdo

-O.G.

Olu Gittens interviews filmmaker Sharon La Cruise for NBC’s TheGrio.com

Sharon La Cruise, filmmaker of ‘Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock’

I had the pleasure of interviewing documetary filmmaker/journalist Sharon La Cruise about her film Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock for video-centric news portal TheGrio.com. A venture of NBC News and the production team behind documentary film Meeting David Wilson, TheGrio.com features breaking news, politics, health, business, and entertainment, which concern African-Americans.

It was great to find out about La Cruise’s seven-year journey to making this powerful, intimate portrait of Civil Rights pioneer Bates.

Check it out!

-O.G.

http://thegrio.com/2012/05/29/sharon-la-cruise-remembers-forgotten-female-civil-rights-hero-in-daisy-bates-first-lady-of-little-rock/

Screening Info for CHOICES at LA Web Fest 2012

On Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm, CHOICES will screen in the Los Angeles Web Festival 2012.

Screening will take place on the first floor of the Radisson LAX, 6225 CENTURY BLVD., Los Angeles, CA. CHOICES will screen in a block with 2 other webseries. Admission is $10.

LA Web Fest 2012 CHOICES

Creating CHOICES was a labor of love, even more so because of its genre — an in-studio, multi-camera TV soap. It’s amazing to see this classic style of production find a home amongst the most cutting edge web series out there. Being part of the LA Web Series Festival 2012 is truly an honor.

LA Web Fest 2012 Schedule at Facebook

Neema Barnette zooms in on gospel cinema

If you’re a fan of gospel cinema, you know it’s a genre of film that fuses elements of African-American culture, tenets of Christian faith, and themes of family. These films, also known as faith-based or inspirational movies, bring strong melodrama, heart-breaking scenes that show characters falling to their knees or coming home to the church, emotional climaxes with rousing songs by gospel choirs, and of course, that one character representing the voice of wisdom.  Gospel cinema’s  titles include The Gospel, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Not Easily Broken, Preaching to the Choir, Blessed & Cursed and Preacher’s Kid, and its influence is seen in more entertainment-oriented, mainstream works like Jumping the Broom, Joyful Noise, Fighting Temptations, and many of Tyler Perry’s films.

While gospel cinema often has women protagonists and a loyal following among female audiences, it is as rare to find a woman in the director’s chair as it is to find one at the pulpit.  So as you can imagine, it’s an exciting development to see a female director behind this latest gospel cinema film, Bishop TD Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day. And it’s all the more exciting that the woman in question is as noteworthy and sought-after as director Neema Barnette.

Neema Barnette is the most prolific black female director to date, having helmed TV episodes, films, and TV movies going back three decades.  Barnette’s career has inspired many black female directors, including myself, to work in this field. In the 90’s, it was Neema Barnette on the mainstream tip and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) on the indie, showing the world that black women can make movies. Fast forward to 2012 and Neema Barnette is adding her vision and talent to the world of gospel cinema.

I got to catch a special preview screening of On the 7th Day – Neema Barnette in appearance, moderated by black film pioneer Warrington Hudlin – at the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC.  On the 7th Day is described as “a gripping thriller and family drama, filmed on location in New Orleans, about a husband and wife who find themselves in the midst of a crisis when their young daughter is kidnapped. The kidnapper is supposedly a serial killer who murders his victims ‘On the 7th Day.’ During their desperate search, a series of deep secrets unveil a troubling past, putting the marriage and their futures in jeopardy.”

For gospel cinema fans, On the 7th Day delivers big time, showing Sharon Leal (Why Did I Get Married) and the iconic Blair Underwood as the embattled husband and wife, with appearances by Pam Grier, Nicole Beharie and Bishop TD Jakes. The  insights that Barnette brings as a black female director add social relevance and cultural sensitivity to the work, while the story takes the genre in a new direction as an intense suspense thriller. Tears will roll as the characters’ faith is tested and, ultimately, restored.

Will this couple’s daughter survive the kidnapping? Check out Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, which opens in theaters April 13, to find out. Distributed by Codeblack Entertainment.

-O.G.

CHOICES TV and Web Series Official Selection to LA Web Fest!

CHOICES in LA Web Fest 2012We’re happy to announce that CHOICES TV and Web Series is now an Official Selection in LA Web Series Festival 2012.

There were a whopping 178 entrants into the festival, a testament to the abundance of talent on the web.  CHOICES is 1 of 8 in the “soap opera” category.

Produced by Oh Gee Productions, by writer-director-producer Olu Gittens, CHOICES is a series of soap-style flash dramas with intertwined story lines.

LAWWEBFEST III WILL BE HELD AT THE RADISSON LAX FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY APRIL 6-8, 2012.

Aaron Ingram, a champion of black independent film

From ActNow Foundation:

It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Aaron Ingram, our Founder and Executive Director, our brother and dear friend.  He passed away after a long, tough battle with cancer. Please pray for his family during this bereavement and know that they and many loved ones were by his side during his final days and hours.

Though we use this time to grieve, remember Aaron for his love of people, his love of the arts, his achievements as an actor, as a director, as a visionary, and as founder of one of the leading black theater and film institutions in NYC. His legacy lives on through ActNow Foundation with the continuation of great programs like New Voices in Black Cinema, New Voices in Theater, and the program that started ActNow, the ANF Short Film Collective.”

* * *

Aaron Ingram (2nd from right) with Celia Peters, Bill Johnson and Olu Gittens
Aaron Ingram (2nd from right) with Celia Peters, Bill Johnson and Olu Gittens

Aaron Ingram was a dear colleague who worked tirelessly to highlight the work of black independent filmmakers. Aaron showed my film “Lucky” many times and helped it garner a strong following. Aaron stressed partnerships with local businesses, holding screenings at Brooklyn’s NY Perks for years.  When ActNow Foundation got their space at South Oxford, it was like a dream come true. With the new space, venues such as BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), and support from New York City Council Member Letitia James and others, ActNow Foundation has truly taken flight to showcase the works of black filmmakers. Serious, soft-soken, determined and kind, Aaron was a powerful force in the promotion of black film — a champion.

Aaron, you will be greatly missed!

-O.G.

Adventures in Multi-Camera Televsion Part X: CHOICES Webisode 7

Amazing Season Finale of the CHOICES web series!

***

Oh Gee Productions presents…CHOICES: A Soap-Style Web Series

CHOICES is a series of soap-style flash dramas with intertwined story lines. CHOICES highlights top notch actors with writing and direction by filmmaker Olu Gittens.

CHOICES Webisode 7 – One Woman’s Life

In the Season Finale of CHOICES, two stories come to a head. Shervonne and Regan see the impact that Abigail – the woman who was mother to one and nanny to the other – had on both their lives. Motulsky’s sense of integrity is shaken by a choice that still haunts him, and Chapman decides to move forward like a Not Guilty man.

Starring:
Kianne Muschett as Shervonne
Elisa Pupko as Regan
Scott T. Miller as Chapman
Joshua Feinberg as Motulsky

17 characters. 8 dramas. 7 webisodes. CHOICES.
Sometimes life will make you do things you never thought you would do. CHOICES.

CHOICEStheSeries.com
CHOICES was written, directed and produced by Olu Gittens and produced at the television studios of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), New York City.

-O.G.