Independent filmmaker Joseph Stovall has said, “Atlanta has a GREAT Film Community.” I definitely agree with that sentiment, but Joseph is also quick to challenge that same community to do better while not being frozen by the daunting tasks of doing so that it keeps them from simply doing it. I commend that sentiment as well. He has challenged filmmakers to get off their tails and get a project going; Offering to assist with equipment and training if they would simply commit to getting it going. Now that’s putting it out there. I don’t know how many filmmakers have taken him up on his challenge as yet but Joseph, with his production company Red Collar Studios, has followed his own challenge and recently completed a feature film called Coming Correct.
The story follows Randall (played by ATL veteran actor Miko DeFoor, Lottery Ticket) as he attempts to balance his ambition to become a partner in his law firm with his wife’s hope for him to spend more time at home. Being a comedy, complications ensue from their new baby to an admirer from the office after attention from Randall.
Coming Correct recently screened at several film festivals winning Best Comedy Feature at the San Diego Black Film Festival.
I asked Joseph a few question about his latest feature and about his approach to helping indie filmmakers get a leg up.
Is this your second or third feature film as a director?
Second major feature, I did a student film in 1997
Your first major film was released in 2004 Bottom starring Jason Turner and the ubiquitous Steve Warren among others, correct?
Yes, Bottom was my first major feature starring Jason Turner, Kermit Rolison, Deborah Childs and Eva Acosta.
Tell us a little about how you went from your first to your latest film Coming Correct.
Coming Correct was originally a stage play called Voices written by a good friend of mine Nedra Simone. I had wanted to get back to filmmaking for a long time after Bottom. After seeing the play, I figured this was the best opportunity available. I approached Nedra with the concept of turning her play into a feature and she was more than ready to see it on the Big Screen. We quickly cast Miko DeFoor, Shaun Mixon, Kanya Maree, and Dawn Michele in the top spots and had a strong supporting cast including Kaira Akita and Tyler Craig.
How many festivals have you screened at with Coming Correct?
We’ve been in 4 festivals so far: San Diego Black Film Festival where we won Best Comedy, Texas Black Film Festival, North Carolina Black Film Festival and Arizona Black Film Festival. We’ll be at the Montreal International Black Film Festival at the end of the September.
What were the biggest challenges in getting your film made?
Locations. One location we had was 10 minutes from the Atlanta Airport. We found out there was an 8 minute lag between take-offs and landings. We would literally tell the actors to stop midstream in their acting, keep the motivation and as soon as the plane was no longer able to be heard we’d pick up exactly where we left off. We shot like this for 3 days!
Tell us about The 24 Diary. What was the impetus to begin it and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
There are lots of challenges facing the small “shoebox” independent filmmaker. (Features made under $50K). Shooting at this level means you must understand the jobs of 15 crew members just to make your production look and sound professional, not to mention dealing with actors who aren’t getting paid.
I learned quickly that projects under $150K get written off as failures even before they begin. I believe there is a lot of undiscovered talent out there, but no one is paying attention to those people because they don’t have the funds for a larger project.
The only people who seem to do well at the Shoebox Level are those who understand fundraising or those with direct connections to fundraising, even if these people aren’t the best at their respective crafts.
What do you do if you are a talented filmmaker who just has great ideas and no source of major income? After working on several sets I recognized the key elements that people were missing and decided to place them online in hopes that the information could help at least one aspiring filmmaker to live out their dreams. So ultimately, I just want to help young directors, producers, etc in any way that I can to become better filmmakers.
What are the next steps for Coming Correct and yourself as a filmmaker?
We hope to sell Coming Correct soon and use it as a spring board for new projects in the future. Hopefully people will see Coming Correct and recognize Red Collar Studios as a quality production company. We’re currently working on a new comedy feature called Between Friends starring Shaun Mixon, Miko DeFoor and Jael Roberson.