Blue Ivy Hate — Stop It.

The Maroon Colony:

Were you kind of disgusted when Fat Jew (his self-described name) posted on his Instagram about why Blue Ivy looked like a hardened criminal lesbian, instead of a “caramel colored” princess? Look here. That’s a think piece for another day, but this was a thought or two by an up and coming young writer that should all be on radar. Stay woke y’all.

Originally posted on Rebel With a Cause:

Ignorance in a Screenshot

Imagine you are a child, about 3-years-old, living a fulfilling lifestyle with two parents who love and adore you. You are as equally unaffected by how you look as you are unaware, totally unconcerned, at 3-years-old, with what that means. Imagine that one day, you discover that since you were born, people you don’t even and won’t ever know have been criticizing you, your hair, your skin tone, your facial features, calling you ugly, saying you look like a crackhead, comparing you to other toddlers, insulting and attacking you without ever knowing who you actually are, projecting their social and cultural insecurities onto you, since you were born. How would that make you feel?

So why the fuck are we doing this to Blue Ivy?

Simply put, amongst many other things, our society is particularly misogynoiristic, meaning that because of our deeply rooted hatred for black women,due mostly to slavery, colorism, and…

View original 94 more words

Stuff White People Like: Halloween Edition

It’s almost that time of the year, Colored People Appropriation Day Halloween, which marks the time seasonally where one takes stock of their cuff season Q1 standings, thank the based gods that at least The Craft is on Netflix (eventually, Hocus Pocus) and endure love letters on Twitter to the trash that is candy corn. Halloween has the interesting distinction of being perhaps THE Whitest holiday on record (except for maybe Columbus Day) and peaks of Whiteness are on Mt. Kilimanjaro levels. Before we go any further, let me appease the naysayers who counter, “How is Halloween ‘White’? Everyone loves Halloween!” I mean, I guess. Sure. And now that I’ve paid obligatory homage to faux universality and false cultural equivalents (which are mostly consistent with peak levels of Whiteness, but I’m too blessed to be petty today), let’s get to the realness.

miley cyrus

This shit is disgusting, no? Well, welcome to what Halloween feels like for The Coloreds on October 31st and the other 364 days of cultural appropriation that’s been going on for the past, 400 years or so. Needless to say, colored people just don’t really check for Halloween like that. And despite the literal manuals to helping White People Do Halloween Better, it still remains an incredibly stressful 24 hour period. Anything could happen. Blackface does could happen. Slutty Native American for sure could happen. Black body and Obama effigies swinging from trees is a little too Strange Fruit comfort for most.  The majority of us in The Black Delegation are walking around with tight chests, swearing before Gawd in hopes that no bro takes the fist bumps and “What’s up brotha?!” (that they have been forcing every Black person they encounter to partake in with them since 2008, btw) as an excuse for fist bumps and “What’s up my nigga!” in Bob Marley costume. Because friendships would be lost and asses would be have to be had. So, coupled with the quotidian stress of trying to not die in colored skin, the fact that all the Black people, die early in horror movies, all Asian chicks are assumed to be “Happy Ending” geishas, every Latino is “esse” for the day, Native Americans are remembered for one day and we’re not welcome to trick-or-treat in certain neighborhoods anyway, we usually just let The White Delegation have it.

Man, listen.

Man, listen.

The uncomfortableness of racial identities being appropriated and shat upon aside, watching White people being White on Halloween can be entertaining. “Did you see that crazy ass White boy wearing that toilet on his head?!” It’s an opportunity to frankly, watch the spectacle of being White from an uninvolved distance. To White people, Halloween is the one day that they have to step away from the pressures of sitting atop almost every cultural, sexual, racial, religious and economic hierarchy and be someone else. I mean, we get it. Because who has the will to dress for Halloween when you have to worry about Miley Cyrus dressing up as you the other 364 days out of the year? Meanwhile, for “the others”, it’s the spectacle of watching privileged people who need a reprieve from said privilege, attempt to out-do one another in epic battles of satirical irony and ridiculousness in which a great deal of money, time, effort and cultural tone deafness are used to express and meet these ends. Imagine that! And since living while melanin-ed exhausts peak levels of irony for most of us in the Colored Delegations, it’s more amusing to watch White people put so much effort into making trivial matters be so vital and competitive. And nothing more clearly reflects this than Halloween DIY costumes. Like this one below.

Quinoa Woman

NO FLEX ZONE

QuinoaWoman02

THEY KNOOOOW BETTAAA

This chick dressed up as quinoa. Quinoa. (At first, I was pumped because I thought she was a box of Kix, but whatever.) The problematic consumption politics of Brooklyn hipsters eating quinoa and leaving impoverished South Americans to starve aside, this is actually a brilliant costume. It’s quite creative. I mean, the levels of White going on right now, in this moment are so fleek, this is intimidating to non-voting members of the White delegation. The viscose/tissue/faux threadbare t-shirt turned skirt is just rich. Not that she was done there.

ain't no body fucking with my click.

ain’t nobody more organic than my clique.

Captain Kale. That’s right, that green leaf that taste likes tree bark everyone’s putting into their smoothies these days. Because, why stop at quinoa when, with enough people to dress up as seitan and coconut water, you could be a whole vegan meal? I mean, this is why Halloween for us non-Whites stays amusing. We marvel at the time, money and waste use of privilege all on spectacle and display for Halloween. If you’ve got enough power in society to dress up as Whole Foods without being reminded that you can’t afford to shop there or it’s gentrifying the hell out of your neighborhoods, most of us would probably just buy whole foods, or buy Whole Foods (stock). It’s a wealth/privilege/sense of humor disconnect. But on the very bright side, she’s not dressing up as a distressed messenger/sex slave of ISIS. (Because there will be some smart ass undergrad who will try it.) And if this peak of corny, yet harmless levels of Whiteness is the alternative to Trayvon Martin “costumes”, I’m here for it.

DIY how-to for Quinoa Woman. Just in case there are, “inquiring” minds.

Gilda Snowden 1954-2014

The Maroon Colony:

I love reading and seeing love from one artist to another. The writer of this article, Victor Littlejohn is not only an amazing artist, but is a dear and important friend of mine. If you don’t know Gilda Snowden’s work (and I certainly did not until Victor introduced me to her work via Facebook), this is a good time to begin!

Originally posted on for art and artists:

From a 1990 Exhibit at the Detroit Institute if Arts

From a 1990 Exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts

We lost another important Detroit artist earlier this month.  Gilda Snowden died unexpectedly.  I would have attended her funeral, but I didn’t find out about it in time.  I’ll pay my respects here instead.

I first met Gilda Snowden in the late 1970’s.  We were around the same age and both “new artists” at the same time.  She studied painting at Wayne State University.  I was self-taught.  I never got to know her well, but it was always great to see her.  I had a lot of respect for her and her work.

In a September 14 Detroit Free Press article, artist Mary Fortuna, said “She was the opposite of competitive. … Whoever you were, you could count on Gilda to show kindness, generosity, advice and support.”  I always got the same sense.

She was one of Detroit’s best known…

View original 496 more words

If Anyone’s Seen Barack Hussein Obama….

strolling through Martha’s Vineyard today, most likely at Nancy’s after his morning jog – please firmly, but gently remind him that we’ve got a U.S. territory – an entire city actually – currently occupied by a paratrooper militia and we could use his help, preferably in the form of an Executive Order and/or the National Guard. If it’s not too awkward between bites of his lobster roll, please let him know that all sorts of rights have been violated. That would be so greatly and deeply appreciated, as, the situation is so dire, the beleaguered Palestinians are sending us tear gas remedies

(taken from the Tumblr, Magna Carta Sallie Mae)

WEB SERIES WEDNESDAY: AFTER THE DELUGE

As promised, I’m following up with the post that I wrote on Monday about failure. Before we get into some of the nitty and gritty, I want to be clear that I’m not lionizing disappointment. But, the feedback that I got and am continuing to get is that we don’t talk about it enough and since it’s right there for me, I’m in a position to talk about it at a time when we feel the most shame about it. We’re all comfortable talking about the failure after the fact, after we have a win to take the sting out of the story. I’m trying to encourage others to not be so paralyzed by that failure or disappointment, in the moment. And, though these lessons were learned in the context of a web-series/television, it’s easily applicable to other projects and industries. I’ve had a lot of questions about our shoot and what I’m planning to do going forward, so I’m going to answer them here.

WHAT WENT WRONG

CASTING: This is super important. I don’t think I realized  how much so, prior to. And of course, it depends upon what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to just a MVP (minimal viable product) out there, maybe not so much. If you’re trying to showcase your writing, the context and what you’re capable of doing, then you have some room. But you need to make sure that you have actors that can handle the writing. No matter how brilliant and funny it is on the page, if the actors can’t convey that, it won’t matter. So maybe you’re not going to get Benedict Cumberbatch or Michael B. Jordan, but get the best for what you can. Reach out to everyone and audition. Don’t just cast your friends because they’re going to be great for the role – they probably will be. But if they’re great for the production, they’ll probably also be great at the audition.

one of our call sheets

one of our call sheets

REHEARSALS and DIRECTING: I just didn’t do it enough and I didn’t push it enough, the rehearsals – and I didn’t know until I had an actor on my hands that did not know any of his lines. It was as horrific as it sounds – and I was completely unprepared for that. My training in directing came from the East Coast – New York and Williamstown, two powerhouses in the field and it spoiled me. I didn’t know that actors knowing their lines was something that I had to rigorously check for. In theatre, especially New York, it’s almost insulting to ask an actor if they know their lines; it’s understood that they do or will. I’ve only heard of an actor not knowing in the acute instances of drunkenness or drug use, which was never an issue with any of the actors that I worked with. And though I’m based in L.A., most of my directing in film school was still done in New York. Many theatre actors want your direction to inform them about character motivation, character background and bio, what’s the motivation in the scene, where’s the conflict in the scene, etc. And it’s not that film actors aren’t concerned with that as well. It’s just that, on a web-series, especially in Los Angeles, the talent varies. Which means, you have to be disciplined about and during rehearsals. Do a rehearsal without the script. If you have time, do two. There’s a reason people say the best actors are in New York – it’s very true. And that’s not that you’re not going to find exceptional actors in Los Angeles. It’s just that you can’t assume that the average actor in Los Angeles on the same level as your average actor in New York. Plan and prepare accordingly in your direction and producing.  

For the most part, our actors had a good idea of the character motivation and background, but I did not do a thorough enough job making sure that those lines – which express the motivation and the background – were nailed. It’s not something that you usually have to worry about it, but don’t forget to worry about it. It’s much better and less expensive to push the production back if even one actor isn’t prepared. Your production is only as strong as your weakest link and no matter how much you’ve prepared, how ready you and your cast are, if the actor(s) aren’t ready, the production isn’t. The audience isn’t going to see how prepared you are – they’ll only see an actor struggling on screen.

on set

on set

CREW: I think we did a pretty good job, but there were key people missing. I didn’t have a production designer, costume designer or production manager on set. Gratefully, my friend Chas stepped in became the production manager, but it was a huge time drain for me to have to production design (with lots of help though!) and costume design. Did it look great? Yes. But that’s not the point. I think a lot of people, including myself, make that mistake of thinking, “well, I can do it myself, why ask/pay someone to do it?” Again, that’s not the point. You want someone who’s exclusive job it is to worry about that particular thing. You also want to be focused. If you’re the director or producer or both, you have to be professional and part of being professional is being focused. Having a low budget doesn’t mean that it should dissolve into a 15-person-DIY-project. My production designer and costume designer had an opportunity to go to Comic-Con at the last minute, but what I learned from that is to have back-ups. People will get great opportunities, especially if they’re talented, or have life happen and won’t be available. Have someone that step in, or if not, write out your vision and hand it to a friend/PA with some experience so that they can worry about it. It probably won’t be perfect, but it will get done and it’s one less task for you.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

CREW: We did an amazing job of putting together an amazing team. My producer, Lucretia Stinnette (who is an extremely talented director in her own right and is the latest recipient of the Princess Grace film grant) and I brought together really patient, even-tempered, hardworking fun people that were invaluable. Our Assistant Director (AD) was so organized and communicative and calm, our ridiculously talented Director of Photography (DP), Judy Phu was so patient and so creative even in really difficult spots. (In fact, it was she that figuratively picked me up off the floor.) We had two PAs that stayed until 11PM to make sure that our set was up for the 8AM call the next day. YOU MUST HAVE TEAM PLAYERS, FROM THE PRODUCER TO THE PAs.  It’s so important to really curate that, because when you have a difficult shoot, the last thing you need is a diva or a crybaby on your set. At the end of the day, you’re going to be doing 12 hour days with these people. Do not ask anyone to crew for you that you wouldn’t or couldn’t spend that minimum amount of time with.

COMMUNICATION: When it was clear that we weren’t going to make the day (shoot everything on the shot sheet), the creative team sat down to see how we could adjust the call sheet for tomorrow to get most of what we needed. We immediately adjusted our expectations. We wrapped two hours early, right after the magic hour on Saturday to re-group and plan. There’s absolutely no point in shooting in the face of diminished returns. Your energy, time and crew are much better spent coming up with a solid plan B and C. We were behind, we had an actor leaving at 5PM the next day and we weren’t going to have as many PAs Sunday as we had on Saturday. But, we sat down, drew up some plans, cut things from the script and re-wrote and communicated with everyone so that we knew what we were walking into on Sunday. It’s pretty hard to communicate when everything’s going to hell in a hand-basket, but that’s the time when you need to do so the most. Without it, there’s no way we would have been able to finish shooting on Saturday or Sunday.

SKILLED PEOPLE: Having skilled people around you is a must. You can’t possibly know everything. Have a healthy mix of professionals and amateurs. More importantly, have flexible people, who can go with the flow but can also learn on the fly. You want the technical people who know everything about one thing, but you also want a good mix of liberal arts people, who can problem solve in real time. The great thing is, this being film, you’ll find plenty of them. I wasn’t prepared with how to deal with an actor that didn’t know any of his lines, but it was a life-save to have Lucretia, who had experience with that, on-set, to handle what was obviously above my pay-grade at the time. Of course, we could not have predicted that, but having someone who knew more about production that I did was one of the best moves that I made on the shoot. And once you’ve entrusted them with that, FALL BACK. Even if you are the director or the producer, sometimes the production is better served without your presence at that particular time. Leadership is about knowing the appropriate time to fall back and show up.

SOUND: I’m glad that we invested in sound. It’s one of the few areas where you’re not going to be able to get around the price-point. Do NOT give a PA a boom and say, “go!” Sound is one of the dead give-aways that your production is low-budget. People can forgive low production value. They’re scathing about the sound, believe it or not. Invest in it.

breakfast frittata + Veronica's kitchen

breakfast frittata + Veronica’s kitchen

FOOD: We had an amazing, an amazing caterer in my dear friend/food impresario, Veronica Flores. She did an elegant and amazing job. From the feedback, it was one of the best parts and she did a great job of making sure that we had great food. I personally asked her to set the table and create this beautiful experience (pictures HERE), because that was important to me, but that is not a criteria at all. Do not feed your people on just pizza and sandwiches. Most of the time, they’re going to be working for free – feed them well. Extremely well. Ask a friend who can cook and prepare for a crowd or hire a catering company. A lot of the UCLA film students use Impeccable Taste and I’ve heard the prices are very affordable. I also highly recommend Veronica as well.

Be very clear with how many people that you are feeding so that you do not run out of food or have too much. However, the latter is a far bigger problem on set than the latter. Have your AD take a survey about week before shooting regarding dietary restrictions and have more than a salad on-set for the vegetarians.  Also have caffeine – lots of it. Save money and bring a coffee maker to set. We were shooting in very hot conditions, so we had a lot of coconut water, water and juices on set, but we had to go out and buy a case of soda for a caffeine boost in the afternoon.

stacks on stacks of scripts

SCRIPT: It was not perfect and we had to make some minor changes on set, but it was still very strong after the shoot and the footage. A weak script will just not survive a bad shoot. And what I mean by that is, during the course of everything falling apart, if the script is awful, it will just follow in line. But if you and your creative team can look at the script and know that if certain changes be made – whether that’s your DP, your actor(s), your location, your producer, your director, etc – and it would be much better, you have something worth salvaging. If not, it’s better to re-write. That being said, make sure that you send your script out to two or three who work/trained in the genre that you’re writing in (comedy goes to comedy people, drama goes to drama people) and listen to their notes. (I don’t recommend having five or six people giving you notes, because for a web-series or something fairly short, it’s just too confusing. That’s just me.)

WHAT I LEARNED

It goes without saying that you learn more from the failures and disappointments than the wins. The above were professional take-aways. Below are the more personal take-aways, which informs the next steps just as much as the technical and professional aspects.

USE THAT ANGER

I’m going to be real. I was mad as hell. I was mad at myself, at everything, hell, even the sun for being so damn obnoxious and hot on Saturday. But you know what? That clarity allowed me to make some tough decisions that otherwise, I would have tried to suffer through, work around and be pleasant about it. Failure leaves a taste in your mouth you’re not eager to taste again. The work and it reaching its potential becomes the highest focus and priority. Everything that doesn’t serve that or that hinders that has to go. No justification, no explanation. And when you’re angry and channeling that anger, you’re better able to make those decisions that once were difficult to make. I’m not saying go fire people or scrap the whole thing immediately. Calm down (somewhat), but after a few days or even weeks, take that energy to start making the changes you need to.

LET IT GO

You gotta say it in your Frozen voice. And what I mean by that is two things. Yes, you have to at some point, stop beating yourself up about it – but also give yourself some time to grieve. But you’ve also got to let go of the control. When it’s your baby and you know everything that there is to know at that point about it, you are probably micromanaging and not even realizing it. You’re only suffocating your baby. When you do the due diligence to create and cast an A team, you can trust that the people that you’re entrusting with the most important parts, they’re going to bring something to it that you didn’t even think of, that you didn’t even imagine. And your project is going to be so much better for it, because….

IT’S NOT JUST YOURS ANYMORE

That’s right. Nothing can create new life on the face of this earth without another set of chromosomes. That includes your baby. You’re going to have to allow others to put their creative, mitochondrial imprint on it and make it bigger and better than anything you’d thought it’d be. I thought that I did a pretty good job of this, but I still have a lot of areas to improve upon. Don’t micromanage, hire the best that you can.

FAILURE IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU

It sure as hell feels like it though. But it’s not. It doesn’t change the type of person that you are, only magnifies your best and worst tendencies. So think about making your worst tendencies less so and your best tendencies more so. I thought that everyone on set would never ever want to work with me again – and I was wrong. As someone pointed out, “I came because you asked me to and I’d come again if you asked me to.” No matter how much someone believes in your project, ultimately, they’re showing up -or not – because of you. Maybe it’s different when you’re working with more talent and more contracts and more pressures, but your core team, your A1 team, the team that’s going to be responsible for bring this to life – they’re there because of you. And most people believe that they have good taste in other people. To prove otherwise, that’s the ultimate failure. That’s the true disappointment. In that way, I do not think that I failed at all.

WHAT’S NEXT

We’ve decided to make this instead, a pilot presentation. There isn’t anything wrong with the web-series, but this experience made me re-assess the goals and points of the Maroon Colony. The footage that we shot isn’t horrible either  -it’s certainly passable and the production value is high – but the change in direction wasn’t based on that. The goal is to share this with as many people as possible and to take it as far as it can go while using the resources and manpower that we have most efficiently. For me, that means a pilot presentation. As I get further into that process, I can better articulate why I decided that. But for now, that means taking the original pilot, re-writing that and finding key scenes in the pilot that can be shot into a 3-part narrative. I’d rather spend our energy shooting two to three really stand out scenes and really focus on the push to get it out there and connecting with people who are going to be passionate about it.

I hope this helps someone out there. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes without all of these comments and thoughts on crew, script, rehearsals, etc. Reach out! You can email me at themarooncolony@gmail.com or find me on Twitter at @chaedria, where I retweet more than I tweet.

 

They All Count

So.

It’s been a while, but it’s been because I’ve been shooting. The web-series that is. To prove it, there are two pictures below from set. (In case you were wondering, it was 93 degrees.)

me on the left, directing an actor.

me on the left, directing an actor

Maroon family living room and Jorge, Consuela's estranged husband, outside and none to pleased at not being allowed inside...

Maroon family living room and Jorge, Consuela’s estranged husband, outside and none to pleased at not being allowed inside…

 

And I promised, somewhere on this blog when I began, that I would share the journey of getting this created. And that means the hits and the misses. We had a miss – a pretty big one in fact. In fact, I’m changing the direction of this whole thing and a making a number of creative changes. It wasn’t what it could’ve been. I made mistakes. We made mistakes. But, ultimately, as the creator and producer of Maroon Colony, it’s my job to make sure that what we created is something that is the best that we can do. And it wasn’t.

Sharing failure is something that we don’t do enough, not in our generation, not publicly and especially not in the film and television industry. This shit is hard y’all. It’s hard. You’re not going to get it right all the time. You’re probably not even going to get it right the first time. It’s important to share that and break that down; I know too many people in this industry who feel that they’ve failed at life because they didn’t get into the writing program that was supposed to jump start their career, because the web-series that they’ve created was dragged across Twitter and the YouTube comment sections, etc etc. And not even just film. I have had way too many conversations with friends in whispers (no, really) over the phone or even in person about failure. And that’s not to say those sentiments aren’t real. I mean, I was on the floor last week. The floods at UCLA could’ve been me sobbing in the basement of the film school. No lie y’all.

for real though.

for real though.

I wrote a letter to my cast and crew owning the failure of our shoot. A friend of mine who works in tech said, “That’s a very Silicon Valley thing for you to do.” I suppose so. But, I felt that I owed all of the really brilliant and hardworking people in my crew who ride for me and this project – and me for them – the honesty and the courage to own that fail. I owed it to them to acknowledge their work and that though we worked extremely hard, we can do better. Whatever the reasons. When it’s your production, you gotta own it. You gotta embrace that “L” the same way you would a Win. They all count.

So, Web-Series Wednesday should be fun. I’ll be thinking of something meaningful to add about this part of mine and the Maroon Colony’s journey. I’ll add what I’ve learned and where we’re going. And there are a lot of people out there that are creating, not just a web series, but what they hope to be their life’s work. And it’s important to know that failing or not living up to your expectations/standards/tastes is okay – so long as it inspires you to get back up and try again and again until you knock it out of the damn park.

Because as Winston Churchill said, “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.”

yaaaaaasssss.

yaaaaaasssss.

Thirst Thursday: Women Losing Their Shit Over This Mug Shot

It’s a slow news day. Now that we’ve said of that, we wanted to make you aware of the racially ambiguous/magically delicious/beautiful felon that is Jeremy Meeks – because you’re girlfriend (or boyfriend) most surely is already acquainted. In fact, they’re all conspiring to help this beautiful stranger make bail. All $900,000 of it.

Image

 

Despite being a presumably hardened criminal (he’s been convicted six times) who was arrested this time for “street terrorism” (possession of illegal firearms and ammo, carrying a loaded firearm in public, criminal street gang activity, you know, the like), Jeremy has about 24,000 things going for him – the ladies love him.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 17.03.19

 

Screenshot 2014-06-19 17.07.10

 

 

In fact, the love runs so deep, I have a friend in New York who works as an assistant modelling agent who is trying to figure out if he can travel across state lines, should he make bail. Which makes sense. Because with eyes like that (which another friend poetically pointed out, “they’re so watery. like a pit bull”), he’ll need bail (too pretty for prison), a lawyer, a parole officer and a modeling contract.

Someone call Donatella.

 

Lego has the best business cards in the corporate world

The Maroon Colony:

This takes marketing and branding to a whole new level! If you could think outside of the box for your own business card, what would it be?

Originally posted on Quartz:

This post has been updated

Most business cards are a variation on a relatively narrow theme, a name and contact information on some kind of paper. And with the advent of the smartphone and many apps designed to replace them, they’re increasingly obsolete.

But employees at Lego at least have business cards that aren’t just memorable, but could actually inspire someone to work at the company. They’re 1.5-inch tall Lego minifigures, with the employee’s name on the front and contact information on the back. The photo below was posted by a Reddit user, who claims it came from a guest at his hotel who’s a designer at Lego:

q2qAYZc

no-caption

It’s not just a quirk unique to this particular Lego employee. The company’s CEO, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, actually has a figure of his own, according to the Wall Street Journal. The figures aren’t standard, but are manufactured to look like the person carrying them. You can…

View original 184 more words