Jackie J. Stone CEO/Content Creator at Enchant TV
Content creators of today are becoming more and more enterprising, taking full control of their careers - as they should - in an entertainment environment that's becoming even more challenging and competitive despite, and one could also argue, because of a production, distribution and exhibition cycle that's been democratized, ensuring that practically anyone, almost anywhere in the world with a creative spark has access to tools that were once restricted to a tiny few, to write, cast, shoot, edit, distribute and exhibit their creations widely. And multiple award-winning filmmaker Jackie J. Stone, who holds an MFA from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, and who firmly believes in using her work to motivate audiences toward social action, is doing just that by recently launching a new digital content network called Enchant TV, which is housed on YouTube.
The network officially launched on May 4th, 2016 in Hollywood, with the premiere of its first original series, "Compersion," a scripted drama created by Ms. Stone, starring Jammie Patton ("Coldwater") and Derrick Lemont ("Confirmation"), that follows the journey of a couple exploring polyamory.
Realistic in its depictions of an adult relationship at a crossroads, "Compersion," which was filmed over just 9 days, is a compelling, deliberately-paced psychodrama - moody, but certainly not without wit. Thus far, 5 episodes into its freshman season, it's been a satisfying achievement, and is gradually drawing and building an audience that appreciates, is challenged by, or is curious about its provocative, if bold subject matter, which is emblematic of the kind of storytelling that Stone plans to bring to Enchant TV.
Stone, whose past scripts have garnered attention and awards, including Jerome Foundation and IFP Project Involve Fellow honors, says her vision for Enchant TV is to make it a home for dynamic and creative programming that highlights the complexities, as well as the rich and diverse stories of people of color, particularly women.
"As an artist, one of my objectives in television and film is to develop spaces and an aesthetic that will serve as 'homeplace' for women of the African Diaspora," Stone says. "The concept of homeplace, historically, comes from the magic Black women performed by transforming domestic households into safe havens from slave shacks, in the United States to the Shantytowns in South Africa. These physical structures became places of care and nurture in the face of the brutal reality of racial and sexual oppression; my work in film seeks to create and do the same. It has been my goal to present Black women in dynamic and diverse roles. We have to create the stories and the characters we want to see, and with the distributions models that exist it is a great time to do it."
I recently spoke briefly with Ms. Stone, who took on the roles of writer, director, producer and editor of the digital network's first series, about the newly-launched Enchant TV, as well as "Compersion," and a little more. An edited transcript of that conversation, which answers questions many of you had since the network and series launched, follows below.
[caption id="attachment_2451" align="aligncenter" width="1250"] “Compersion” stars Jammie Patton and Derrick Lemont (Credit: Enchant TV)[/caption]
Tambay Obenson (TO): What is Enchant TV exactly and what kind of content can audiences expect from it?
Jackie J. Stone (JJS): Enchant TV is an indie digital network that is home to original programming with a kick. The network will feature multi-genre (from drama to sci-fi to horror) scripted serialized content, both multi-season series like our premiere series, "Compersion," as well as limited edition one season shows. The first series, "Compersion," is indicative of our brand of storytelling – we love tinkering with seemingly ordinary situations and spicing them up. "Compersion" is essentially a family drama exploring seemingly ordinary characters in extraordinary circumstances. We hope to be a network that is home to entertaining content that provides thought provoking, enticing and engaging content. As far as overall content, we do have a strong commitment and push for serialized content, and our programming will largely reflect this model, and most of our slate at the moment is serialized. The goal of the network is to tell engaging stories and we are open to the various ways of storytelling, and plan to include longer formats (features) as well as shorts to our programming in the future.
TO: Who's your target audience?
JJS: Our audience comprises of eclectic, discerning and vibrant women and men who love a good show, who are into the nitty-gritty of story telling and look forward to seeing an inclusive-diverse cast of characters and stories. Our audience doesn't mind taking a step off the beaten path. Age-wise, our sweet spot is 25-45.
TO: What influenced the "Compersion" story?
JJS: A decade or so ago I was on a dating site and met someone who was in a polyamorous marriage. It was my first time ever hearing about “polyamory” and it fascinated me. You had two people in a loving marriage, one in our culture that is deemed to be between two people, but they had a marriage that wasn’t monogamous. They weren’t swingers; it wasn’t about random sexual experiences with others, but about emotional connections that were deep and long lasting with other people. Intimate. Romantic. Love-based relationships. I thought about how interesting this life must be, and as a writer/director my mind started working. It was an interesting premise to explore -- how do you keep your family and marriage in tact while balancing multiple loves? Exploring the challenges, complications, and the rewards of that intrigued me.
TO: So what character are you in "Compersion"?
JJS: Everyone and no one at the same time. There is a little piece of me in every character that is on the show - from the children to the couples, to other characters yet to be seen. When I say I am in "Compersion," I do not mean in the straightforward sense of “I’m Josh” because my spouse wanted an open marriage, or “I’m Keena” because I wanted an open marriage. I mean it in the sense that these characters are built from pieces of me -- their outlook on life, a memory they may have (might be mine or a hint of mine), their love for a particular food and how they see love, might be my own vision, or an inspiration from someone close to me.
TO: How often do you plan to release new episodes of "Compersion," and why did you choose this specific schedule?
JJS: The first season is released every other #EnchantedWednesday. Releasing the episodes every other week allows 1) the network to build an audience, 2) measure how our audience is responding to the material, and 3) to place other shows in friendly rotation. As the network grows and evolves the show rotation may as well.
TO: I assume you hope to eventually monetize the network?
TO: What filmmakers (alive or dead) have inspired your work?
JJS: Zhang Yimou ("House of Flying Daggers," "Curse of The Golden Flower," "Judou") is my cinematic crush, my cinematic deity! #Bowdown. The way he uses camera to tell a story leaves me winded. He is poetic, crisp and just with his impeccable framing. We share a love of color as character in shaping a narrative, and he truly is a master at mis-en-scene. And then there's my former professor, Spike “the truth” Lee, whose work ethic (10 films in 10 years), his one-of-a-kind style, and his unapologetic beautiful and Black aesthetic in cinema, all inspire me. He has classics under his belt. There's also Sidney Lumet ("Dog Day Afternoon," "Network," "12 Angry Men") for creating visual action with dialogue! It is one of the hardest things to do and he executed it so well in all of his movies. Jane Campion, Julie Taymor & Igmar Berman are all huge influences; the poetry, the eroticism, the acute story telling. Spielberg & Scorsese masters of visual storytelling. I could go on and on and on...
The digital network's next original series is expected to launch in the final quarter of 2016.
Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of "Compersion" are now available on the Enchant TV YouTube channel, with new episodes premiering every other Wednesday, coining #EnchantedWednesdays.
Episode 1 was previously featured on this blog; below is episode 2: