The movie adapted from the satirical video “Dear White People,” that stirred up the internets last summer has finally begun production in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Director and writer Justin Simien raised more than $40,000 through the popular online campaign service Indiegogo a few days after the video made its debut to fund the films production costs.
Just in case you missed it, the video highlights the experience of being an African-American student at a predominantly white college institution. The trailer tackles a few classic themes from stereotypical and prejudice thoughts on black culture from the opposing race, to identifying “true” blackness among other black students. If you had the opportunity of being a minority student at one these institutions regardless of grade-level, you probably had a good chuckle and could recall a few experiences of your own.
By Niesha Miller, AFROPUNK Contributor
It wasn’t even an official trailer. Just a snippet of what the group hopes to create if they had the means to make it happen. Much wasn’t said about the video or the project’s progress over the past year until a behind-the-scenes video was posted from the“Dear White People” YouTube account a little over a month ago. In the clip you see the production crew and actors at work, and even get a glimpse of Awkward Black Girl Issa Rae.
For the people who helped fund “Dear White People,” and were dying for a non-stereotypical film surrounding African-Americans, seeing the production being kicked into motion had to have left a feeling of content. However, it’s important to not expect the film to be a 100% depiction of the black experience at a PWI, or expect this to be the rescuer of “black” hollywood.
It’s no secret that big production houses don’t typically fund positive and informative films focusing on African-Americans because those type of projects don’t rake in the money. Unless you’re a self-made millionaire director like Tyler Perry, producing and distributing your own films as a person of color can be difficult without the right investors. We’re not saying there aren’t any people of color who lack the funds to put out decent films, there just aren’t many with the money who have an interest in doing it.
Also, films with a focus on African-Americans are cross-examined by everybody in the film business from critics to consumers whether they're Black or White. Hollywood places these flicks in their own lane when rating and discussing. For example, when Steve Harvey’s “Think Like A Man” was released, it was labeled as a "Black" romantic comedy by major entertainment publications. And on the other end some black consumers categorize films themselves. Can't really label them but they usually fall under the categories of "I wanna see that" or "Ugh. Why can't we get movies like white people, but with black people?" or "It was okay for a Tyler Perry film."
These reactions are expected because movies like "Dear White People" are far in between the buffoonery that typically hits the silver screen. Unfortunately, it usually takes a heavily influenced non-person of color like Quentin Tarantino or George Lucas for something close to this happening, whether or not you agree with the context of the film. Lucas said himself that he put his own money into the 2012 film "Red Tails" because major production houses refused to invest in it.
Luckily with today's technology and social networking tools, young filmmakers are able to pre-package and present the world what they want to create, and if its a project the public believes is missing in the present culture, then they can play a major role in where the film can go. It doesn’t solve all the cultural and financial barriers in the film industry, or any industry, for that matter, but it can lay the foundation to people getting what they think they deserve in entertainment representation.