The Gullah Project Participates in Film Festival

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The Gullah Project continues to share its work and message with new audiences. Gullah Gone: Preserving the Land, Water, and Culture of the Sea Islands is screening on Thursday, November 8th at the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina. The film is one of the selected works-in-progress featured at the festival. The Gullah Project is also part of the Cucalorus Works-in-Progress lab that runs November 4-7.  

The Cucalorus Film Festival takes place November 7-11 in downtown Wilmington. Since being founded in 1994, Cucalorus takes place every year to celebrate independent film.
More than 300 films are screened each year, making it one of the largest film festivals in the South and is recognized as “One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Moviemaker Magazine for three years in a row.  

The Works-in-Progress Lab focuses on strengthening the community impact of documentaries about social justice and supporting the development of African American filmmakers. W-in-Progress Lab includes community engagement events, public and private screenings, impact strategy sessions and one-on-one consultations. 

The festival is an incredible opportunity and we wish our director, Denise McGill, and producer, Sherard Duvall, the best of luck. For more information about the event time and ticket prices, visit http://www.cucalorus.org/film/gullah-gone-preserving-land-water-culture-sea-islands-wip/.

The Gullah Project is headed to Washington, DC!

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Next week our director, Denise McGill, and producer, Sherard Duvall, are heading to the 2018 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival in Washington, DC! Our film, Gullah Gone: Preserving The Land, Water, and Culture of the Sea Islands is one of nine documentaries chosen to be a part of the Docs in Progess DX Pitch Program.

Gullah Gone was selected from over 50 works-in-progress documentaries presented around the country over the past year. The Peer Pitch program is a full day program giving documentary filmmakers an opportunity to make a verbal pitch, receive feedback, and learn about real opportunities for distribution on prestigious national platforms to some of the leading film distribution and funding organizations in the country. Previous participants in DX Pitch have gone on to be funded by prestigious organizations like the Sundance Documentary Fund and been accepted into other industry pitching opportunities.

The sponsor of the Peer Pitch program, Docs in Progress, in a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster a supportive community for documentaries and the people creating them. We are so excited for this opportunity and wish McGill and Duvall the best of luck during their time in D.C.!

Meet the Fall Gullah Project Volunteers

This fall, five students join the Gullah Project’s volunteer team. During this time, they will perform a wide range of tasks relating to their own professional areas of interest. These tasks include transcribing footage, creating posts for social media, writing blogs, editing, assisting the director and doing research for production. This will give the volunteers hands on experience for their future, introduce and teach them more about Gullah/Geechee culture. The volunteers will also work closely with the film’s director, Denise McGill, and producer, Sherard Duvall, through their work with The Gullah Project.

Through this opportunity, our volunteers will learn more about the Gullah culture and the importance of the land preservation on St. Helena Island. As the volunteers continue their work throughout the semester, we hope they will gain valuable experience and see the impact they are able to make.

How did you learn about The Gullah Project?

Jai: I learned about the Gullah project through Mr. Duvall’s film production class at Columbia College.

Valencia: I heard about The Gullah Project while looking for an internship two summers ago. I’ve volunteered since then and took an official internship position this fall.

Brianna: I was interested in learning more about the Gullah culture and wanted to learn more about documentaries and the work put into creating them.

Samantha: I heard about it from a school email. After reading about it, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the process of making a documentary and the Gullah culture.

Kimmie: I learned about The Gullah Project through a teacher who sent out an email blast. I’m from Charleston, about an hour from St. Helena, which is one of the reasons I find this project so interesting, because I was that close and didn’t know this was going on.

What are you most excited about volunteering for The Gullah Project?

Jai: The most exciting thing about The Gullah Project experience is learning about the culture, the dialect, art and getting to interact with the people and learn about their lifestyle. Also, learning about Gullah/Geechee history with other students and engaging in discussion about what’s currently happening to the low country. 

Valencia: I’m most excited about getting a more behind the scenes look into The Gullah Project. Since I’ve been working with The Gullah Project for a while, I can’t wait to see how everything comes together

Brianna: I’m excited about seeing this documentary come together and bring attention to the culture of Gullah people.

Samantha: I’m excited about learning more about the Gullah culture, specifically the people living on St. Helena Island. It will also be cool to see what goes into making a documentary like The Gullah Project.

Kimmie: I think the project is cool because it’s talking about something important, and there’s so many talented people working on it. It’s a good learning experience because it is already established and actively working towards completion.

 

Our Volunteers

Jai Anna Carter is a senior at Columbia College where she studies Studio Arts, Communications and Public Relations. She assists with social media and monitors Gullah/Geechee upcoming events and news.

Valencia Abraham is senior Visual Communications major at the University of South Carolina. Her responsibilities include transcription, assisting with grants/paperwork and assisting the director, Professor McGill.

Brianna Morales (not pictured) is a senior at University of South Carolina and studies Visual Communications.  She is responsible for tagging and transcribing film footage.

Samantha Hayes is a senior at University of South Carolina and is a Public Relations major. She is responsible for transcribing footage as well as writing for The Gullah Project blog. (Yep. This one!)

Kimberly Hilton is a senior at the University of South Carolina. She is a Media Arts major. She tags, organizes and transcribes film footage.

 

Los Angeles funding and distribution company partners with Gullah film

The Gullah Project continues to expand its team as we advance production on our one-hour documentary film Gullah Gone: Preserving the Land, Water and Culture of the Sea Islands. In summer of 2017 we welcomed Los Angeles based funding and distribution company Brandon/Kane productions to our family.

Currently living in Vietnam, husband and wife team Victor and Edwina brought their years of marketing, business, fundraising  and distribution experience together to form this unique company. Their team consists of a group of strategy, social media, marketing and communications professionals that meet the distinctive needs of documentary filmmakers.

We sat down with Victor and Edwina to ask them about their work, partnering with the Gullah Project and their unique ties to Gullah culture.

1. How did you first become aware of The Gullah Project? When did you become
involved?

VIC: We were at the American Documentary Film Festival in April 2017 and Edwina was
serving on the pitch panel. Denise and Sherard were at that festival, primarily to pitch
Gullah Gone. Edwina was so impressed with the idea of the project, she made sure to
introduce me to Denise and Sherard before they left Palm Springs. After staying in touch
throughout that spring and early summer, Brandon/Kane Productions became formally
involved with the project during the Summer of 2017.

2. What drew you to the project? What does it mean to you?

VIC: There were several things that attracted us to the project. St. Helena Island and the
Gullah culture is near and dear to Edwina’s heart. Her maternal family is rooted in
Beaufort and stems from the Gullah people. There was a desire to become involved in a
project that brought her closer to her roots and gave her an opportunity to learn more.

EDWINA: For Vic, getting to know more about this part of my culture was exciting.
He had never had an opportunity to explore this part of the country. As someone who
loves to travel and experience new cultures, The Gullah Project put the low country at
the top of his list for places to visit. He can’t wait to get there!

Sherard Edwina OnSet

Producer Sherard Duvall & Edwina on set on St. Helena Island.

3. Why do you think Gullah Gone should be made?

BRANDON/KANE: The Gullah represent such a critical part of American history. The
majority of Americans don’t know this culture exists and that’s sad. Even fewer know
this community is on the verge of extinction. It’s a travesty to think the Gullah people
and their land may simply disappear. We believe Gullah Gone can make a difference by
educating mainstream populations about the Gullah culture, the need for preserving the land, and sustainable agriculture. Resolving these issues will help the Gullah community
thrive.

4. How did you come to start BKP?

BRANDON/KANE: Brandon/Kane Productions was started because we love documentary
film and we saw an opportunity to contribute our skills in a way that was really needed.
Documentarians are constantly faced with finding funds to work on the next phase of
their project while simultaneously holding down another job to help pay the bills. When
the projects are finished, the next hurdle is distribution . . . where to turn, when and
how. This doesn’t seem just to us. The process should be easier and sustainable for
filmmakers. We believe Brandon/Kane Productions is a solution for documentary
filmmakers. We help find funding and distribution for films. What’s the end result?
Filmmakers can stay focused on the creative elements of their projects and be more
efficient in the process.

Amy Sherard Denise Edwina Alex

Executive Producer Amy Shumaker, Sherard, Denise, Edwina and Alex Cone.

5. Tell me about your day to day with BKP. How will those experiences influence your work with TGP?

BRANDON/KANE: Our day to day experiences at Brandon/Kane Productions are as
varied as the projects we manage. We could be writing grants, networking with
prospective individual donors, researching funding and distribution sources, building
relationships with business partners, or a myriad of other things. Most important, we
encounter such a diverse array of people every day (whether it be in person, via skype,
or through email communication), our daily activities reflect one of our guiding
principles . . . to support stories that make this world a better place. To be more specific,
we both embrace diversity in our lives and enjoy interacting with as many cultures as
possible. As such, we will consistently bring partners to the table who embrace similar
values. We believe that perspective is essential for a project like Gullah Gone.

6. Do you have a favorite experience working with the project so far?

VIC: Edwina’s favorite experience was absolutely her trip to St. Helena Island. To be
even more specific, this presented the opportunity to meet Ed “Lee Man” Atkins. Denise
and Edwina stopped by his home for a minute to drop off a care package (Hurricane
Irma had just hit the Carolinas the previous week). Two hours later, we left having
feasted on fresh crab and beer, cooked at a moment’s notice by Lee Man’s wife. It epitomized the Gullah spirit and Edwina knew she was working on this project for all the
right reasons.

EDWINA: Vic hasn’t had the opportunity to interact directly with the cast nor most of
the crew. He holds down the fort at the home office most of the time. Nonetheless, he
loves his experiences. His favorite to date is reading the treatment of the film and
watching the short 7-minute version which introduces such interesting characters and
life stories that inspire him to meet them and hear their stories firsthand.

Edwina at The Atkins House

Edwina at crab dinner with the Atkins’ and the Gullah project team on St. Helena Island

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For more information about Brandon/Kane Productions, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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Profiles of the Gullah: Brandon and Jordan Johnson

Profiles of the Gullah: Brandon and Jordan Johnson from Denise McGill on Vimeo.

Siblings Brandon, left, and Jordan Johnson have lived on St. Helena Island their whole lives. Each year they work to raise collards, sweet potatoes and sugar cane with their grandfather, Ben Johnson Jr. Then the whole family helps to sell the produce at Heritage Days Celebration in November, and they all share the profits.

Film festival screenings bring awareness to Gullah/Geechee culture

Our team created a seven-minute overview of The Gullah Project to mark our progress. We entered the overview into film festivals as a short documentary. We are excited to report that out of nine entries, The Gullah Project overview was accepted into five festivals. It screened in five cities this spring.

The screenings have raised awareness about Gullah culture for audiences all over North America. There is little knowledge of Gullah history outside of the Southeast United States. At Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival, few people in the international community had ever heard of the Gullah. Festivals hold a Q&A after each screening so viewers can learn how the film was made. Director/Producer Denise McGill was able to attend four of the festivals.

Film festivals are valuable because they provide feedback. Just to be accepted at so many venues is a very positive sign. Met professionals in the industry who take an interest in our project, offer good advice about further contacts, possible team members, next steps and distribution. Share ideas with other filmmakers and bond. Learn from their previous mistakes and successes. Spread the word about Gullah history and St. Helena Island. Learned what elements of our film are most engaging to the audience. How the film industry works. Set realistic goals. Join network of filmmakers with similar passion and causes.

Currently working on one-hour film with the goal of airing on public television. Since getting feedback, our team has made changes to the script, and continue editing. Nearly all the filming and field work is complete. Now we are fundraising. Funds will allow us to add major talent to our team, top professionals who can polish the visuals, audio, graphics, and soundtrack for the film.

Unfortunately, the overview is not available for the public online while it is at festivals. We’ll let you know when there is a way to see it.

 

 

Introducing Jameah and Jamyah Moore

Twins Jameah and Jamyah Moore have lived on St. Helena Island their entire young lives. Their community involvement began when they started volunteering at Sara’ Reynolds Green’s Marshview Community Organic Farm at age 9. At Penn Center Heritage Days Festival in 2014, they performed in the Road of Remembrance play about the history of St. Helena Island. The Gullah Project interviewed them during a rehearsal break. At the time, the twins were in seventh grade at Lady’s Island Middle School.

 

 

The Gullah Project accepted to the 14th Annual Female Eye Film Festival

The Gullah Project has been accepted to the 14th Annual Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto, Canada.

The Gullah Project will screen in an International Documentary Program block on Wednesday, June 15th. Among the films in this block are The Nike Chariot Earring directed by Karen Audette and feature film Following Kina directed by Sonia Goldenberg followed by a Filmmaker Q & A session.

Female Eye Film Festival is an international film festival dedicated to women directors uniting film enthusiast, international women directors, celebrities, and industry professionals such as film and television screenwriters and producers. Their goal is to not only support the advancement of women directors but to promote equality and empowerment for women everywhere through cinema.

To learn more about the Female Eye Film Festival please visit their official webpage at http://www.femaleeyefilmfestival.com/

To learn more about future screens of The Gullah Project please visit our Screenings page found in our main menu.

The Gullah Project nominated for Best Documentary at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival

The Gullah Project was nominated for Best Documentary at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival in March. The winner for Best Documentary went to Lee’s 88 Keys, directed by Susan Robbins. She also won the award for Best Female Director.

Despite not taking home the award, Cape Fear Independent Film Festival was a huge success for our team. The small venue provided an intimate setting to meet like-minded individuals with a wide variety of experience. Through them, we learned a lot about the art of filmmaking.

It was useful to get feedback from festival-goers about our project. Viewers confirmed that the strongest element of our film is the people of St. Helena Island. We are truly gratified that viewers responded this way. People were very generous with helpful comments. It was a great affirmation for our work.

The Gullah Project will screen at Charlotte Black Film Festival this Saturday, April 9th at 10:00am. Make sure to visit our Screenings page for other listings.

 

 

The Gullah Project screens at Cape Fear Indep. Film Festival

We are excited to screen The Gullah Project at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival tonight at 7pm in Hannah S. Block Community Arts Center. It shows alongside Unverified: The Untold Story Behind the UNC Scandal.

We also screen The Gullah Project tomorrow Saturday, March 11th at 5:30pm. This screening will also be held at the Hannah S. Block Community Arts Center and will be accompanied by Lee’s 88 Keyes, The Disappearing Church, and Witch!.

For more information about screenings and showtimes please click here.