It s been a slow climb but with advancements in technology, Michael Dennis, filmmaker and founder of Reelblack TV, is confident that he s trekking up the right ladder. When he started Reelblack in December 2003, his goal was to simply “promote good movies about and by black folks,” like Exit Strategy and Pariah.
“We have always been strategic about capturing the black film revolution by being cutting edge and specific about the content we promote,” shares the New York University and American Film Institute graduate who projects that in 2012 black films will experience a quantum leap. Dennis believes this potential ascent is evidenced by the success of Red Tails and Ava DuVernay s historic win at Sundance Film Festival 2012, where she became the first African American woman to win the Best Director Award for Middle of Nowhere.
“[My peers and I] have had the good fortune to help promote and collaborate with so many talented people. When I see their success it makes me want to achieve,” he shares. “Ava DuVernay is a good friend. When I see how hard she works, having worked with her as a peer and to see what s possible when you have vision, makes me want to step my game up more. And there s Philly native Dennis Dortch, who s A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy was screened at Sundance in 2008. All of it makes me want to hustle harder.”
With a loyal base of YouTube subscribers – 3,000 and a record 9 million views – and a solid network of friends on Facebook, Dennis determination is merited. “This has been an incredible year. The message that we have been promoting since we started eight years ago, the technology and the talent have reached synergy,” he says.
Having “birthed” 15 shorts of his own, Dennis is working on a screenplay, Tupac is Alive, and a feature-length documentary, Last Night at the Five Spot, which is projected to be screened at festivals later this year.