How have the Arts impacted your life?
I would have to say that the arts have impacted my life in a very significant way. Art is one of my favorite loves. I would compare it to an old friend and great collaborator. For as long as I can remember, I have always been an admirer of the arts. I liken it to humankind's way of aspiring to truly be more like the creator, to be able to express ourselves in our hearts truest form. The language of art. Art is pure. It's not good, it's not bad, but it can be all of those things. It strikes an emotional context, it controls your emotions and also helps you to release those emotions. It just makes you feel a type of way. I feel like art is just as powerful, in its proper use as a God or Goddess.
What inspired you to work in the entertainment industry?
Art has always been an inspirational factor in my world, almost like a guiding force in my life. I don't know if I would have been able to get away from it if I tried. Honestly, I should’ve known it was my passion because I was never good at keeping a job in other industries. After a while, It was more like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. My soul was just meant for so much more. Once I realized that you could create a living from having that feeling of creativity one gets from making something; It just always made me wonder why anyone would want to do any other job in the world. As a young child I spent a lot of time watching TV and I grew up in front of the television. I witnessed the entire world by watching TV. It was like a magic carpet to me, I could go anywhere. My favorite show was Movie Magic.
This show broke down the secrets of the movie making industry using examples from popular movies at the time. Seeing this really
intrigued me and gave me a greater sense of appreciation for the process and art behind the scenes. The film Boyz in the Hood was a groundbreaking film for me, as I learned of the story behind this film and the lead character with whom I shared a name made me think there might be a possibility for me to live my dreams by telling the stories I witnessed and experienced in my everyday life. I grew up in South Texas, not a big filmmaking community at that time. Black directors, film education, access, and anything else you would need to be successful at the time was limited in my community to say the least. There weren’t many resources.
What about a film makes you want to do the distribution?
I have always loved film. While in college I studied many aspects of the craft. Lack of diversity in the distribution industry and my love for the craft of filmmaking was my original inspiration. I love seeing and supporting young hungry artists. Having been a young inexperienced filmmaker myself, I understand the struggles and hustle of trying to get your artistic work positioned well.
Where I find myself now is in a mix between art and business. As an artist being able to appreciate art but also as a businessman in the business of art. I chose to look at it from two different perspectives. The biggest detractors facing artists today are finding and connecting with the avenues to monetize their craft. I love to see people pushing boundaries, making strides and taking risks that make a greater difference. I'm inspired to share our united vision in this medium of art. I'm inspired by filmmakers who don't have a whole lot to work with. They don’t have the money or resources, but they are able to flip what they have and do the most with it. Someone who is able to take just a few dollars and make a production and when you’re watching it, and you can’t tell they didn't have all the resources of a much larger film. There is great storytelling, acting and an overall presence on the screen going toe to toe with any major movie company. These are the elements that make me eager to do a distribution deal. The other most important element about a film that inspires me to want to create opportunities is the people. Creators with vision and inspiring stories to tell. People from the African diaspora have been marginalized worldwide, and our stories is why this company was created and this shared vision makes me want to work that much harder for my clients in creating distribution opportunities that can build generations of wealth.
What is the distribution process like?
I like to set filmmakers and producers up for long term success. I’ll break down the distribution process as simply as possible.
Our goal is to set up content producers and creators to earn revenue off their creations for longevity. I started in this business with my father and partner Barrett Dungy with Urban Home Entertainment where we specialized in standup comedy, urban romance, and inspirational faith based content. We’ve been in business for about 20 years breaking every convention built for independent companies like ours. The need for content producers to have solid platforms and representation behind the scenes sparked the need for another company to help with the increasing demand for niche content. I created Trial X Fire as a next generation distribution company that services producers and creators in a dynamic range. We specialize in youth based content, comedy and reality programming which are real stories portrayed in film and series. Traditionally, 1 in 50 films may actually receive distribution on a major scale, and the rest upload to YouTube or have to find creative ways to monetize. What's happening in 2020 is that the theatrical distribution model has changed and creators now need more outlets. We are here to even the odds for producers ready to go to the next level.
What is your process in creating content?
I started as an independent director and content creator. My process had evolved overtime. My content creation started with a burning desire to tell relevant stories and convert those into scripts or whatever format I thought would be the greatest method to reach the people. What I didn’t understand was the flaw in my thinking about the industry. This is a process that has been developed and fine tuned since my early days with UHE. Our process for creating content is robust. We start off by assessing the marketplace. We begin with what Barrett refers to as the end in mind. What is the final method or format of delivery? What message and stories will resonate the best with our audience and culture? What are platforms and networks looking for? These are the internal questions we ensure to answer before creating content. Traditionally producers are extremely passionate, but they don’t often have the resources or analytics to know the most lucrative paths to being successful as an independent creator. When we green light projects we have a strong understanding of the complete process from concept to distribution. One of my current endeavors is creating resources for content creators. I wrote a book and resource guide for artist, content creators, and video hustlers called 'Guerilla Filmmaking Tactics' where I share a lot of the knowledge I’ve learned along the way personally and from other producers.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
COVID has changed the world and the filmmaking business is no exception. The way we gather, congregate and share has been changed. The way we tell stories and the relevance of the stories we tell is altered. We have all been through so much collectively and individually.
Physically and emotionally and yet we continue to thrive. Filmmaking is an art form that can comfort us when we are down or brighten us when our light is dim. It’s an art form that shares, connects and translates the human experience. Initially, when the pandemic began viewership overall took a large dip as families gathered about the most essential needs of their homes and communities, and spent time connecting on things that were the most important as we all did. Now that we are carving a new path from the old we have seen streaming numbers and sales begin to pick back up. As the normalcy of quarantine subsides for the time being and the relevancy being black in America takes a front seat. Black stories that have been ignored for so long are becoming relevant for a broader cultural experience. For many companies it’s a fearful trend. For us it’s a way of life.