News Producer and Filmmaker J.O. Malone smiles brightly as he directs festival goers into a room ready to show the short films submitted to the National Black Film Festival.
It is an event he has dreamt of since his days as a student a Prairie View A&M University. And now, years later, he’s seeing his dream come to fruition.
Houston hosted the inaugural National Black Film festival this past weekend at the new Marriott Marquis. Filmmakers and Actors from around the country premiered their short and feature length films in front of an audience of 150+.
The festival spanning over five days featured films, panels, and workshops. One of which was hosted by Orlando Valentino of Carter High.
Even though, J.O. Malone had his hands full with making sure the festival ran smoothly. I got the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss how he developed the event that would bring Hollywood to Houston.
What made you decide to create the National Black Film Festival?
I felt like we needed something here in Houston. I’m a film producer and I am a television news producer. I want to be able to do the film right here in Houston. I’m a father and a husband and I love the city of Houston. I want to be able to do something I love right here in the city. The only way to create it is to build it yourself.
So what has been the best part so far about this event?
I mean just bringing filmmakers and creators from across the country you know. It’s not just Houston who’s here. We’re actually bringing in different creators and they are enjoying the city of Houston. [They’re] coming together networking, bringing jobs to Houston. Bringing jobs to the community. It's just awesome to see. Everything is taking place from our filmmaking panel to our marketing panel everybody's learning. Everything that I dreamt of is happening. You know from the quality of the education. Everything is just working itself out.
Did you have any troubles along the way in creating the National Black Film Festival?
A couple things. We had people who were on the bill that did not make it. Whether they got an acting gig or they priced themselves out. You have to adjust. Just like a film production. That is how I saw this going into it. I’ve shot a few movies. I’ve shot a few short films and in every production, you're going to have something go wrong. You gotta have a team and crew that's ready to adjust. If we lost somebody we just replaced them, but we replaced them with someone who was of quality.
What are some things you want to improve upon for next year?
Everything. Everything. You know this is our first year.
And it’s a really good turnout for a first year.
Yeah, it is. I just think ugh we would love to have more sponsors. We did this with one sponsorship and that sponsor did not come until a week before. I was just going to do this basically out of pocket. If i didn't have a sponsorship I wasn’t going to be mad about it. I was just going to do it out of pocket. This is just so needed for us to be able to tell our own stories with quality and ethics and integrity. It’s so important to do that. It is important to teach others to do that as well. You know that is what we have to do it.
It’s really excellent. When I was watching the films the other day I said: “I should have submitted my documentary.”
You should have. It is one of the only opportunities for black films to be seen on a platform on this level. You know what I mean? To be around black excellence for almost a week. Especially here in Houston. It hasn't been done on the same level and that's the truth of it. We marketed it through social media because we have millennials working on it.
You didn’t market anywhere but social media?
I asked my Prairie View A&M University friends if I could come on different radio stations and they said yes. Prairie View got me on 97.9 The Box, Majic 102, every single CBS radio affiliate. It is just the power of people. The black excellence. This all started at Prairie View. It just continued. We created things there and we’re creating things now. This time it is on a much more creative scale. We hope to continue to grow and build on this. To create the next Spike Lees and John Singletons and F. Carey Grays. We can build that here. Here in Houston. We can be the next Atlanta. We are bigger and better. We are the 4th largest city in the country and we have so much talent. We don’t have to run to LA. We don’t have to run to New York. We can do it right here. We WILL do it right here. We know that the National Black Film Festival is the place where we can cultivate that talent
You can find me about the National Black Film Festival line-up and awards at http://nationalblackfilmfestival.com