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Getting Afrofuturistic Spirit for Halloween

Halloween is usually a time of outrageous parties, terrifying haunted houses, and mountains of miniature candies. But given our current circumstance, many of those activities has either been scaled down, shifted to online, or completely eliminated.

This doesn’t mean people are throwing aside the spookiest day of the year. For many, this will be the first time they’ve socialized with anyone in months. Plus, everyone will be in costumes and masks – so a win win.

Whether it is face-to-face or virtually, this year ditch the scary or sexy route and delve into Afrofuturism. You can tap into the Black experience while playing with sci-fi and fantasy.

I decided to highlight some content across all media for some Afrofuturistic inspiration.

Books

The Broken Earth series (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky) by N.K. Jemisin

This Hugo Award-winning series follows Black women across multiple generations as they try to survive the “Fifth Season” after geological cataclysms.

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

This children’s sci-fi novel follows the children of Chief of Security General Matsika – Tendai, Rita, and Kuda – as they try to escape their kidnappers in 2194 Zimbabwe.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

A blend of Afro-Caribbean culture and magical realism, this novel see Ti-Jeanne, a single mother, trying to find herself and reconnect with her heritage in a dystopian downtown Toronto.

Lilith’s Blood collection (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) by Octavia Butler

Based on Butler’s own experiences with racism, the trilogy follows a war survivor Lilith as she is torn between breeding with an alien race to survive in a dystopian future, or fight to save the human race.

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

Delaney’s stream-of-consciousness debut follows “The Kid” on a road trip through the city of Bellona as he tries to remember his past in a post-apocalyptic U.S.

Television and Film

Sorry to Bother You

Set in an alternative universe, a young Black telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) must adopt a white accent to succeed. He eventually becomes torn between success and standing up for what is right.

Black Panther

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to assume the throne of Wakanda. He faces challenges from the outside world including his cousin Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan).

Blade

Blade (Wesley Snipes), a Dhampir, joins his mentor Abraham Whistler and hematologist Karen Jenson as they fight against vampires led by vicious Deacon Frost.

Star Trek: Discovery

The latest TV installment of the historic franchise follows the crew of the USS Discovery across a series of adventures with Sonequa Martin-Green as series lead Michael Burnham.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) fights against crime and corruption in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen with his super strength and unbreakable skin.

Music

Janelle Monae

The multi-talented entertainer and her alter ego cyborg Cindi Mayweather explored a dystopian future of prejudice and oppression through a series of prolific albums. Check out The ArchAndroid and Electric Lady for more insight and listening pleasure.

SBTRKT

The English DJ created tribal-like dance and pop music while wearing modern interpretations of African masks. Check out his work with Sampha.

Missy Elliott

The hip-hop innovator used her visuals to explore the styles and concepts of Afrofuturism from her cover art to music videos. This has only been heightened by her stage productions and lyrics. Check out her videos and performances for more.

FKA Twigs

The singer-songwriter is known for blending genres such as R&B, avant-garde pop, and trip hop to create a unique, futuristic sound along with out-of-the-box visuals and performances. Check out her work such as EP1, EP2, and Magdalene.

Ras G

The deceased producer and DJ played with sci-fi and fantasy themes through his music production and his album titles. Check out his work such as Brotha from Another Planet and Back to the Planet.

Writing and Rewriting and Rewriting and…

If writing is the release of all creative ideas, then rewriting is where the real writing begins. Putting all your ideas on the page is great, but it lends itself to being the equivalent of verbal diarrhea. It’s a mess that requires pain-staking clean-up. But in the end, it’s all worth for the aftermath.

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Rewriting is a daunting task for me as the major of my scripts are passion projects. It’s hard to say your baby isn’t perfect, but it’s a necessary process in creating (and sometimes dismantling) your idea. I’ve found rewriting to be my best friend in finding new ways to approach an idea or concept especially when said idea isn’t working anymore.

As a writer, I’ve found myself getting attached to my stories and characters on a personal level. Having spent months (if not years) crafting my work, coming to the realization that I might not be my best can be heartbreaking. But it’s just another sign that I’m growing and learning as a writer. My work needs to reflect that.

As I mentioned in my past blog The Screenwriting Forum, I’ve been concentrating on making an hour-long drama into an animated half-hour dramedy for pitching in the near future. It needed to be shorter for the format I planned on using. Plus, rewriting the original allowed me to cut the fat while reintroducing some ideas I lost in the original screenplay. After some many years of going back and forth with the idea, all I needed to do is step away and fine tune it.

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All with that screenplay, I’ve been working on my children’s series idea and the series bible for it. I still have some tweaking to do to the two scripts I created, but it’s the series bible I needed to focus on. I wanted something more tangible to complement my screenwriting. Writing the second bible has be both easy and hard as I try making the necessary adjustments for a different genre. Who knew children’s television and angst-ridden teen dramedies didn’t mix?

I have some many ideas floating around this brain. Only time will tell if any my concepts make on the screen in some form.


Over time, I’ll reveal more about the ideas and stories I want to tell so stay tuned to this spot.

And as always, don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

The Creative Grind

As the countdown to graduation begins, getting all my ducks in a row has been my mission. I have so many physical and mental deadlines that need to be met before June 1st. Being on my creative grind has been my focus as I prepare for post-grad life.

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In terms of writing, I’ve planned and plotted my new moves for entering my future career. With so many skill sets to draw from, I constantly found myself needing and wanting to create a screenplay that changes my life (if not now, definitely within the next year or so). Upcoming writing fellowship deadlines have pushed me to create a spec script worthy of a spot in a fellowship. The only hiccup has been actually writing it. I did give myself some mental time after my last quarter to give myself some breathing room. Four years of assignments, deadlines, and internships had left me a little bewildered by the whole grad school experience. Visiting family and regrouping were definitely what my mind needed. So far, the past two weeks have been a test of resilience as I prepared to write my first solo spec script. Having the strength and energy to write after long workdays has been a struggle for me. This along with writing for an already existing IP has been a challenge for my creative spirit. But after some time, I’ve finally begun writing the script. Hopefully, the month-long completion has allowed me to complete it by the May 1st due date.

Along with screenwriting, I’ve begun writing for The Connector again and thinking of potential pieces to write for some websites and blogs. Writing for The Connector will be the easier of the two as I cover SCAD’s GamingFest and conduct an interview (look out for those over the next few weeks). Writing a possible thinkpiece and publishing more on Medium will be challenging as I find time to write and revise. Medium has gained my attention as I continue to explore my options for publication. I’ve thought about submitting to a writing contest or two to find homes for some cherished pieces. I’ve even played around with a potential idea for NaNoWriMo (might lead to a full project by the end of the year). Writing for some digital publications has become a huge goal for me (the goal is to have two to three pieces published by year’s end). Having all these goals will definitely keep me busy for the next few months.

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Writing became my calling, but my heart laid with visual art and design. I spent the better part of the past few weeks working on character and background design for my portfolio. Expanding my visual portfolio has become a big deal for me in my quest to enter the animation industry. Designing for my original characters has allowed me to re-think previous work and create some new material. With Out 2 Launch around the corner, a fire has been lit under me to put my original ideas to paper (or screen). With some much creativity, I’m hoping to catch some eyeballs next month.

With all that said, I hope all the work pays off in the end. I can see the light (even though it flickers from time to time).


Continue to watch this space for more posts!

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The End?

Today was a mixed bag of emotions as the end of my graduate journey begins. All the preparation, writing and time had led to this moment. This was the moment of truth for me and my future as a screenwriter.

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Today was a bittersweet moment as I defended my thesis this morning.  I was a bundle of nerves as I approached Ivy Hall. The faculty decided to try a different format by having all the thesis candidates speak. All I had to say was “Thank You” because the pressure was of me completely. It was nice to see some familiar faces in the room in the same spot in our thesis journey.  I was in a unique situation as I was defending my thesis screenplay with a pitch for broadcasting. My nervousness gave way as I went into full brand mode trying to sell my pilot to “television executives.” I gave my thesis the full pitch treatment as I spoke on the setting, the story, and characters. I felt like I sold the pilot to my intended audience. Soon, I was done to great relief. I was able to relax and hear what my fellow grad students had been working on. I was excited to hear the processes each student had gone through to craft their thesis. After a while, the Q-and-A session began as we answered a variety of questions from the committee. There was one question that threw me for a loop as I was asked to do an elevator pitch for my thesis. I believe in the old adage “If you’re always ready, you ain’t got to get ready.” I surprised myself by being able to spit off my logline in a record forty-two seconds. In the end, everyone gave a sigh of relief as the spotlight was off us. It was bittersweet as I took some pictures in front of Ivy Hall for the last time.

 

After my thesis defense was done, I found time to get started on some other things. I began working on my short film for film class. Along with this project, I started putting myself out there by emailing some production companies for shadowing purposes. I’ve kept in contact with some companies I met from Career Fair and had some great interactions. I had a great conversation with TV writer Cindy Bertram (courtesy of my professor). It led to what might be a great mentorship post-grad. Working on other writing projects has crossed my mind over the past few days as I decide my next move. I’ve begun planning the next few months before graduation as my future draws closer. Being active on social media has extended my reach through my blog and visual posts. I’ve definitely been gaining in interest and feedback.  On the job front, prospects seem fruitful as I continue to network moving forward to Out to Launch in May.

man arranging his black necktie

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As post-grad life stares back at me, I feel a sense of relief and nervousness with my future so close. For the first time in a while, I’m both excited and afraid of what’s around the corner.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Networking for the Future at the SCAD Career Fair

With graduation coming to a reality, I needed to survey the career landscape for future prospects. To hear about my experience at the SCAD Career Fair, check this week’s vlog.





Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

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Working and Learning at aTVFest





As my graduate journey nears the end, I’ve found myself looking for more insight into the entertainment industry. See and hear what I learned at SCAD-Atlanta’s 2019 aTVFest.

https://youtu.be/gUpui3p-vkE

Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

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Patience (or Lack Thereof) in Thesisland

Creativity requires the virtue of patience when it comes to the full picture. As I inch towards the completion of my thesis, my anxiety and moody temperament has begun to take over my mind and spirit. I’ve felt like my process has come to a standstill. The waiting and wondering have begun to weight on me as a writer.

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Living in line editing limbo pushed me to a place I hate going to – self-aware anxiety. This mindset has infiltrated every aspect of my life including my writing. I’ve found myself wanting to start revising and editing my screenplay again, but without some direction, I’m stuck at a standstill. My mental time clock has already begun to countdown as midterms approach. Besides the necessary editing, I’ve begun to worry about finishing my thesis as I asked for help on the music composition. Waiting to the last minute usually isn’t my thing, but after some false starts, I’ve begun formulating some lyric (with some outside help coming soon). Being finished yet feeling unfinished has me feeling like I’m in writing purgatory. Being stuck has sent my mind into a downward spiral of insecurity and self-doubt. But, in the next few weeks, my thesis will be finalized, and all my feelings will subside.

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While I wait on my line edits, I’ve gotten back to classes as usual with a project due next week (yikes!). Working on class assignments has allowed my mind to concentrate on things outside my thesis. My visual output was a little slow as I concentrated on other things (check out my Instagram page). A few things have been brewing on the post-graduate front as I waited for some news on my future (stay tuned to this space). As my thesis deadline approaches, I’ve begun cobbling everything needed for my thesis committee to review. The future as a post-grad has grown closer every day.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

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Creative Overload

Creativity has been my calling since I used to draw and write on yellow legal pads. Over the break, I channeled my creativity into different avenues. No matter what medium I chose, storytelling has always been at the forefront of my mission and purpose.

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During my time away from this blog, I found myself using my time wisely to grow as a writer. Finishing the first draft of my thesis allowed me to focus on work on a litany of shows ideas. I began to focus on two pet projects – a children’s series and a rewrite of a teen dramedy. Focusing on screenwriting outside of thesis helped me to grow as a screenwriter while putting ideas to paper (or computer screen). I worked on some fiction and nonfiction pieces I had been toying with for some time. They allowed me to tweak and restructure what was and wasn’t working. I needed another writing outlet besides this blog. Writing has become an extension of my overactive imagination as I combine reality and fantasy with my words.

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Besides writing, I’ve been working on my visual output as I stepped up my Instagram game. I managed to work on some character designs along with some concept ideas for future potential projects. I went through an awkward time with my social media marketing as I gained followers while feeling anxious about my online presence. All this creativity has helped me to grow my presence on social media along with my website.

I allowed myself to rest a little bit as Christmas and New Year’s rolled around. I needed some creative and personal space as school begins in a week. While my thesis journey nears its end, I find myself feeling both joy and anxiety.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

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Feedback and Rewrites

After taking a break, editing, revising and rewriting became second nature in the writing process. As an aspiring screenwriter, the writing process became more about clarifying and streamlining my screenplay. Getting outside critique allowed me to see my screenplay with new eyes.

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The break caused me to refocus my writing efforts when it came to my screenplay. Over the past few days, I drew upon outside critique to keep me in line when it came to the story. Streamlining my actions became an important part of my rewrite as I tried synthesizing my words for better interpretation. In case of future readings, I wanted the readers or actors have more room for artistic expression. In the notes I received, some scenes needed reworking so the dialogue and characters could flow better through the story. I had to watch out for some repetitiveness with phrasing and wording. I found myself combing through every word trying to make the reading experience easier. It made me have to think out of the box in contrast to my “everything on the page” approach during the first draft. Expanding some scenes and condensing others fell in line with streamlining the script for a better story.  In working on the story structure, I found myself working on the dialogue. I felt some of the dialogue was a little stale and needed to be refined. Some dialogue was added. Some were synthesized for a more natural feel. Others were expanded for better character development. I did receive some positive notes about the unique perspective and great character development I displayed.  As more feedback begins to come back in, I’ll be able to rework and revise the screenplay even more as I continue on with my winter break.

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I went on a creative hopping spree this week as I bounced between screenwriting, branding and visual output. I began to focus on some character and graphic design throughout the week. I began thinking about what my project for Black History Month next year. Working on other writing projects has crossed my mind over the past few days. Posting on social media and my website have begun to slow down as I focused on creating actual work.

As my winter break goes full swing, I can breathe a little as my thesis class is around the corner. I still have some loose ends to tie up before the quarter starts, but my thesis journey begins to draw to a close. For the first time in a while, I’m not afraid of what’s around the corner.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

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Relief and Excitement of the Quarter’s End

Something I’ve been dreading yet anticipating finally came to fruition – the end of Fall quarter.   As a creative, this quarter was very important as I juggled school, work and personal life for the past few months. All that work has led to a much-needed break.

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As I spoke on in my last post, exhaustion and anxiety took over my psyche towards the end. This Winter break has been a long-awaited pause in my creative process (even if it’s just a week). Everyone needs that time to recharge, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, I need to focus on my mental and emotional sanity for a bit. Trying to be creative and preparing for the holidays has always been a struggle for me. I’ve found myself getting anxious and bored after only a few days as my work begins calling my name. As I’ve mentioned before, being creative every day can be draining without a break. Writing, drawing, animating, and designing has been great for my profile and brand marketing, but this break is much deserved. Writing my thesis has been a test of my abilities as an artist and writer. Doubt and anxiety filled my head on occasion about my thesis, but I managed to create something tangible and thoughtful. Working and reworking each act afforded me the creative freedom I needed thanks to my professor. Developing the setting and characters pushed me to create something I’m proud of (even if it still needs some work). My creative break will allow me to gain a fresh perspective on my screenplay. I’m looking forward to all the creative things I will do once the break is over.

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While screenwriting has been my main focus, other creative outlets have fought for my time. I tried my best to do Inktober with only one full piece produced. Creating design and art pieces was put on the back burner as writing took most of my focus. The pieces I did manage to crank out were test runs for new techniques with mixed results. I still enjoyed creating them. Freelance work slowed down as my school work and my regular 9-to-5 job took the forefront. But the offers I did field were questionable at best. I decided that my art life would be put on hold for my writer life. But hopefully, this break will allow me to find a balance between writing and creating art.

I look forward to continuing my thesis journey over Winter break and into my final quarter as a graduate student.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

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