Last year, Beavin Lawrence, the star of our award-winning short film THE SAXOPHONIST, and I had started planning a video montage of the joy and pain of African-Americans to the tune of his track “Black Rage”. It was originally planned for screening at his live shows. However, we believe that in light of what’s happening on the streets and around the world, there was no better time to release it than now. Some of these images will be difficult to digest. But we hope you can see why black lives matter.
I want to take this time today to thank those of you who have supported us on this journey thus far as we are exactly 3 weeks away from the start of production on The Saxophonist. The cast (Beavin, Nadya, Michael, Ann, Zoiea, Ron’Netta, Jarrett, and Ronnie) and crew (Myself, Bill, Charlie, Joan, etc.) have devoted so much time working very hard in rehearsals and fundraising efforts to get this special short film off the ground. Even though we are getting closer to shooting, we are really just getting started on building the word of mouth.
For those of you who have been following our efforts and are still on the fence about donating to the production or sharing the links to potential contributors, let me explain why supporting this film will matter. Without your help, it will be extremely difficult to pay for specific location fees for the jazz club and ballet theater locations in Manhattan. It will also be difficult to have a sizable crew to ensure the professional quality that this movie cannot work without. Most importantly, we want the overall look and scope of the film to be as cinematic as possible while also providing a comfortable working environment that will ensure all actors and crew can do their absolute best work.
Then there’s the cultural relevance of the film. Jazz music is truly an American art form. The legends most associated with the genre were African-American musicians (i.e. Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, etc.) who pushed the music and broke new ground for the generations that came after their time. They also made music that was socially relevant in each decade. I personally look at the sensitive times that we are living in today with Black Lives Matter and what is reflected in our films and TV shows that often focus on the pain and struggle of being black in America. Some are well made and have serious impact on viewers while others tend to be exploitative. With The Saxophonist, I truly want to make this particular film special by depicting more positive representations of African-Americans characters that young people can look up to and relate to their real world struggles for success in the big city. I plan to present it not only at film festivals such as ABFF and Urbanworld, but also to schools for prospective students of the arts.
This is my seventh film project since earning my BA in Film: Media Production at Emerson College in 2006. Of any project I have ever worked on, this is the most personal story that I want to share to the world, honor my family as well as the legendary musicians who inspired me to write this script.
Whether you can contribute a significant amount or simply a dollar to support our production, all you have to do here is visit the SUPPORT section of The Saxophonist website to learn how to make your donation with a credit card or check. All donations are 100% fully tax deductible due to our fiscal support from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Please note that NYFA is not funding this project; however, their support allows us to raise funds using their tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3)-classified organization. If you want to donate directly now, visit the NYFA donation page link. We also have a Kickstarter campaign with 16 days left to raise half our budget if you are interested in obtaining rewards for your contribution.
Every little bit of support will be one step towards a great movie. I hope you can help us make this big dream of mine a reality. Thank you.
Writer/Director of The Saxophonist
We had just wrapped up a successful week in Washington, D.C. for this year’s World Music & Independent Film Festival. This past Thursday, we had our co-production with Crazy Daisy Films on the dark comedy THE DINNER had premiered, followed by our 3rd film festival screening of TEMPTED. Both films played in the main screening room of the National Navy Museum.
Then we had the WMIFF Awards show at the Crystal City Hilton this past Saturday. It was attended by myself, my DINNER co-director Anna Snead, and star Andrew Agner-Nichols. 7 WMIFF award nominations in all (2 for TEMPTED and 5 for THE DINNER). We had two highlights of the day starting with Catie Carlton’s win in the Best Actress in Short Film/DMV (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) for her role as “Lois” in THE DINNER! Two years in a row where our actors received accolades for their hard work. Congratulations Catie for your amazing work on the film!
Though I lost in both Best Director categories, I still had the honor and privilege to present a WMIFF award with Shari Belafonte, daughter of the legendary Harry Belafonte. While on stage before we announced the nominees, I thanked her and the Belafonte family for breaking barriers for us as African-American artists. Then we briefly danced after the winner was announced! A very nice way to cap off a very good week.
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