Troy Pryor is the founder of Creative Cypher, a portfolio of media companies under the umbrella of parent company Pryor Holdings. He is the co-chair and board member for several festivals and the founder of the new XL Film Festival based in Chicago, which is taking place from Aug. 18 to Aug. 20.
Pryor spoke with rolling out about the XL Film Festival and what to expect.
Tell us about the XL Film Festival.
So we launched the Chicago Film Accelerator about five years ago as a development lab to put money into the hands of writers and creators, and they would get access to showrunners, network executives, physical resources, and any kind of resources to bring a project together. On the tail end of that program, we wanted to ensure that they had an opportunity to showcase their work and we were partnering with other festivals that I already helped curate for. The challenge was a lot of those festivals, even if they had Black-targeted programming, were owned within non-Black institutions, so there are a lot of blind spots as it relates to programming in the experience. In order for that total experience to be as strong as possible, we wanted to make sure that they had an actual showcase opportunity, and we acquired the Chicago South Side Film Festival last summer. We rebranded that as the XL Film Festival to play off of the accelerator, and now we’re really excited about that. We’ve got some amazing folks that have done it at the highest level in the industry, like Robert Townsend who’s in the media space in a different lane, but highly important to why those roads exist.
Who can attend?
Anyone can attend, but most of the folks that are attending have some aspiration to advance their career as a creator, whether they are filmmakers, writers, producers or directors, but some folks just want to come and listen to the gems from someone like Robert Townsend, some folks just want to come and see some of the amazing projects because we are screening films from Chicago creators. Anyone is able to come in and attend. Depending on what your goal is, we want to help supply that and we’re very excited about what we’ll be able to do. We want this to be accessible, and we’ve made it really accessible. We have a one-day festival pass, which gives you access to everything, and then for those that are on our newsletter, we[‘ve] got some discount codes available, too.