I could wrong, but I’ve always assumed that artists — independent black artists specifically — with completed work (in this case films) have an international outlook. —
In an email chat I had with a black filmmaker with a completed feature film, who is in the process of submitting it to film festivals for consideration (asking for any advice I could give on where he should submit his film), I was a bit surprised to learn that he had no overseas strategy; he listed the film festivals he was planning to target with his film, and they were all local – as in USA-based.
As I said to him, I certainly hope that black filmmakers here in the States haven’t unconsciously (or even consciously) bought into that silly, though common Hollywood studio belief that black films and black talent don’t sell well internationally.
It is for that very reason that I’d strongly encourage black filmmakers (writers, directors, producers, actors, etc) to always consider the international prospects for their work. And I’m not only referring to the top-tier, most popular names that we all know of like Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice, etc. There are countless film festivals, film markets, labs, workshops, talent discovery, funding and co-production opportunities all over the world, on almost every single continent. Some of them may not be as popular but are very well run, and will provide you with an environment that’s genuinely interested in what you have to offer, if only, in some cases, because they are located in parts of the world with a less than significant African population, and there’s a curiosity there; or, in the case of others, they don’t get a lot of submissions from black artists of all stripes, probably because black artists aren’t engaging them, because they don’t believe that there’ll be any interest in their work.
There may be an opportunity to build awareness for yourself and your talents in parts of the world that might be more open to what you have to offer than you realize; being big in China for example, even if no one knows who you are in the USA, can be huge for your bottom line.
And, as we all know very well, having an international presence is becoming increasingly key in this business. It can be the leverage you need to help get your next project financed. More American filmmakers (big names and indies) are seeking funding overseas, whether directly from individual investors, or via co-production deals/markets and the like (we’ve highlighted many on this site over the years).
There are opportunities that exist that you might be missing, because you’re too focused on being represented here in the USA. Not that you should ignore building a presence at home. But just be sure to factor into your plans, an overseas effort.
Think of the many black artists who found early 20th century France more ready to embrace them and their talents, than they experienced at home. We’re not exactly in a similar kind of climate as they were back then, but the sentiment is pretty much the same.
So if you’re not already thinking outside this box that we call the US of A, you really need to start doing that. There’s a whole world out there, and that foreign audience might help you build an international profile/presence which could prove to be beneficial for you down the road.
Obviously it’s easier said than done, and I know that there are costs to some of these things; but there’s more of a balance than you might realize. You just have to do the legwork.
Those of you who are already on top of this, feel free to share your experiences (good and bad) to enlighten others.
All that to lead into this…
Actor Chadwick Boseman was on hand to receive an award for “Most Popular U.S. Actor in China” during the 13th Annual Chinese American Film Festival (CAFF), which runs from November 2 – 30, 2017. CAFF is organized by EDI Media and supported by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China (SAPPRFT) and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S. and it draws in celebrities and other high profile industry personnel from both the United States and China.
Boseman received the top honor in reaction to what CAFF says is his growing popularity in China, thanks to films he’s starred in that have opened in the country, including Gods of Egypt, 42, and Captain America: Civil War, as well as anticipation for the upcoming Black Panther. During his acceptance speech, a surprised Boseman briefly mentions the still widely-held belief that black film art doesn’t travel. Watch him speak below: