When culture vultures apply for citizenship on a new planet colonized by Black people, three judges must decide how to deal with folks who want everything but the burden.
Immediately following the election of another racist president, a group of wealthy Black people pooled their money together to take all willing Black people of Earth to a new colony they built in the Andromeda Galaxy called New World Sankofa. In order for non-Black people to gain citizenship they must go through a series of immigration-like steps; concluding with a formal hearing in front of a tribunal.
We open on one tribunal hearing of a non-Black man's case. He’s proven he’s well versed in Black culture...and then they learn he’s a perpetual N-word user. The tribunal judges attempt to reason with him to no avail; realizing he’s more appropriator than appreciator--a classic culture vulture. The judges have technology up their robe sleeves, though.
$15,000 is the minimum amount we need to raise in order to keep the money raised. $15,000 will cover our production costs only. In other words, we'll be able to shoot for three days and pay our production costs such as shooting labor, the location, food, set design, wardrobe, camera equipment, COVID safety, lighting gear, etc.
If we raise $28,000 we'll be crying and hugging people at random! This goal ensures we have enough for both production AND post production costs. This will include all of the production costs above as well as post production: Editing, paying a colorist, VFX (virtual effects), music, closed captions, etc. Basically this will mean we can truly finish our film.
Finally, if we hit our stretch goal of $30k we'll be able to add some sci fi magic to woo our audience even more. (I'm intentionally being vague about this magic.)
The Burden came to me after overhearing a group of non-Black folks yelling the N-word (not the HARD ER so they thought they were being cute) in an Instagram story. Hearing them using the word compounded with the powerlessness I felt in that moment were the impetus for The Burden. For the first time, I understood a writer's power. I wanted to reach into the chests of every non-Black person who had ever used the word or appropriated the culture and help them understand what the burden truly feels like. I took the original script to a storyteller's workshop and it was there that a friend and fellow storyteller encouraged me to turn this into a film.
This film is filled with so many firsts for me. This is my first script I've ever written. It's my first executive producing gig and my first time directing - which is why I'm geeked to have an experience team behind me, helping bring this to life!
I'm so excited to step into this new world. I am falling more and more in love with the idea that I get to make this film exactly how I've always imagined it to look. I've assembled a talented and seasoned crew of veteran filmmakers who dig exactly what I'm trying to achieve and are game to put something out into the world that I hope we'll be talking about for a long, long time.
The Future...Once we've completed the film festival circuit my dream is to see The Burden thrive in a classroom setting. I believe this film's message is relevant, and universal.
There are so many reasons why people donate to film campaigns: Possibly you love the concept, or you wanna see your name appear in the credits, OR you used to use the word and would like to step onto the path of being a better human being…OR you want to support someone in the cast and crew. Whatever the reasons, we want to thank you for helping bring this little Afrofuturism baby into the world. We desperately need sci fi/fantasy stories that center Black people. The future thanks you.
Tish Arana is an LA-based actor and writer. Forever a fan of Octavia Butler, she loves writing stories that center Black people in science fiction/fantasy. She wrote and will direct The Burden. This is her directorial debut!
Kalilah Robinson is an award winning cinematographer and filmmaker. Born and raised in Bermuda Kalilah attended Stanford University where she studied Psychology and Film Studies. A growing interest in the film industry led her to a film production course in Los Angeles where her love of the motion picture camera was born.
In the years following university Robinson worked as a freelance filmmaker on numerous projects ranging from music videos, web series and commercials, to reality TV, documentaries and narrative feature films. In the fall of 2010 Robinson founded Somers Isle Productions, an independent production company dedicated to the development of film and television projects about Bermuda’s rich cultural heritage.
Experienced in a multitude of positions in the industry, cinematography has always been Kalilah’s abiding passion and it is cinematography that has taken her from the bay area, to London, Lagos, Paris, Bermuda and back again. Currently, Kalilah is bases out of Los Angeles, CA where she continues to freelance as a Cinematographer and Producer.
In 2016 Kalilah graduated from The American Film Institute’s cinematography masters program. In 2017 she was a Film Independent Project Involve Cinematography Fellow. And in 2017 Robinson’s AFI thesis film, LAWMAN, which she shot and co-produced won the ViZio + Dolby Vision Cinematography Award.
Brandi Nicole is a feminist filmmaker, performer, and artivist whose work centers on Black women in all their layers and complexities.
While she started off as an actor, Brandi fell in love with the storytelling process after writing & producing MUTED, a short film about media discrepancy when a child of color goes missing, that was acquired by HBO and to date has just over 171k views on YouTube via Issa Rae’s #ShortFilmSundays. She followed that up by making ALOHA, a short film awarded the Emergence Filmmaker Grant and based in part on her experience of developing H.E.L.P. Syndrome, a life-threatening complication, while pregnant with her third child. A proud HBCU grad, HBO Writers Program alum, and sexual assault survivor advocate, her goal is to use story to spark discussion, create community and help facilitate empathy and healing. These efforts are underway with her latest short film SPIN, a prelude co-directed by Jen West, to what they hope will be their first feature.
Currently a staff writer and recurring character on season two of Showtime’s YOUR HONOR, Brandi splits her time between Memphis, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, and has her eye on adding New York to that list very soon! When she’s not spending time with her sons, you can find Brandi pole dancing, baking delectable cookies, belting showtunes for Broadway shows in her kitchen and railing against white supremacy in all its insidious forms.
Stacia Muse is an experienced designer with a demonstrated combined history of over ten years working in the fashion, interior design, and entertainment industries.
As a Fashion Design Alumni of Otis College of Art and Design, she is dedicated to creating exceptional results and providing innovative solutions, with integrity. Stacia has a strong background in the arts, dedicated to sustainable design, and is focused on contributing to a lifestyle driven community.
She worked on Portlandia. She's cool.
Puppett (they/she) is a non-binary queer filmmaker and actor with a focus on character-driven genre and dramatic comedy.
Born in Washington DC, Puppett grew up in Maryland and Pennsylvania before landing in Los Angeles to work in Film & TV. While placing female and queer characters in leading roles, Puppett's stories reflect their Jewish upbringing, and include themes around identity and belonging.
Puppett's work has been featured on USA Today, HuffPost, and Out.com, and screened in 55+ film festivals around the world. Their background in post-production/editing makes them especially attuned to what coverage is necessary and how to shoot a scene efficiently.
They directed an episode of the Emmy-Nominated series RAZOR TONGUE, from show-runner Rain Valdez (LOPEZ, TRANSPARENT), which also garnered a Special Recognition Award from the GLAAD Media Awards.
Puppett's professional directorial debut, WEDLOCKED, penned by Guinevere Turner (AMERICAN PSYCHO, THE L WORD, CHARLIE SAYS), collected festival awards and secured SVOD and AVOD distribution (starring Beth Grant, Sally Kirkland). Her short film GLENDA, a love letter to TWIN PEAKS “25 years later,” premiered at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival.
Puppett's parody trailer #HiddenFences, inspired by the Golden Globes errors of 2017, was viewed over 3k times in its first 24 hours online. Following the Parkland school shooting, they produced and edited Too Many Bodies, a music video dealing with gun violence in America. The video leads viewers to a website with resources for survivors and loved ones as well as information on advocacy and voting for common sense gun laws.
Most recently, Puppett directed a narrative podcast about an equitable future and a short form comedy series about dating (or not dating) during the pandemic. They are also developing several projects, ranging from a suburban goth drama to a horror comedy about gentrification, all of which center female and LGBTQ protagonists.
Houston native, Shea Harris, currently resides in Los Angeles, CA to create her mark in the film industry. Shea directed the popular, new media, YouTube series Wade's World for two seasons, which awarded her the “Best Director of a Drama Series” title at the 2018 GLOW TV & Film Festival. She has interned for F. Gary Gray’s FENIX Studios under the Executive Assistant in Development. Most recently, she served as Assistant Director of the short film Silent Screams which is currently in the festival circuit. Shea shares her time between directing projects and perfecting the art of writing.
She is writing her first feature film, Yelling Love, which she hopes to
produce next year.
As a Texas Southern University graduate with a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film and motivation to change the world, it was then that she was certain of her calling. Having a profound passion for her craft, Shea started Mustard Seed Films to focus on creating quality content with poignant stories and purpose, despite any unfavorable circumstances, honing the company's scripture, Matthew 17:20.
Outside of her creativity, Shea enjoys spending time with her family and giving back to others.
She is an advocate for eradicating homelessness and frequently volunteers with Los Angeles’ My Friends House nonprofit organization in feeding and providing day-to-day living necessities.
This, much like everything in her life, has served as inspiration for the type of shows and films she wants to create. She is also an advocate for the National Alzheimer’s Association shedding
light on a disease that hits home for her. Shea has zeal to tell stories that change the narrative and challenge the status quo to give a voice to the voiceless. She believes that by starting with
one small act, she can ultimately make a huge impact in the world.
Caitlin has worked on hundreds of commercial castings since getting her start in 2008. Her passion for casting expanded into the television and independent film genres. Winning the 2020 CSA Artios Award for Best Casting of a Pilot/First Season Drama.
Caitlin's work reflects her commitment to champion equity, inclusion, and casting that accurately reflects the modern world in which we live. Working as Associate Casting Director for FX's POSE by Ryan Murphy, Caitlin helped feature the most inclusive and authentic LGBTQ+ cast on television.
Caitlin is a proud member of the Television Academy, Commercial Casting Directors Association, The AICP, and Casting Society of America's Diversity Committee and since 2016, Caitlin has served the CSA as a member of the Board of Directors. In November of 2020, she was elected as VP of Communications for the entire Casting Society of America.
April D. Grier is a recent alum of the Casting Society Training and Education program. As an aspiring casting director, April is excited to assist in casting THE BURDEN. She has worked as a project manager for a media production company, receiving first hand experience in casting commercials and working directly with actors, cinematographers, directors, and voiceover artists. She currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty member of Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the Africana Studies Department where she teaches a course on the film director Spike Lee, Black Experience and Film Medium, and Afromusicology. She has also taught Race, Class, Gender and Schooling and Race in Today's World.
End of week check-in? On a Monday? The Burden is out here proving time is just a construct.
I want to thank all 123 of you have contributed to the campaign. Because of you all we've raised $11, 495. I am so grateful for each of you who woke up and thought, “I can support Tish. She's got this.”
For over a year now, my film updates have lived solely on facebook. Once the campaign ends this is where my stories shall be and there will be so many good ones, y'all.
Last week, casting reached out to our talent and the availabilities are coming in. We'll have cast updates, AMAZING equipment updates I hope, as well more crew updates.
We have a really dope music composer and a music supervisor who have agreed to come on board and help create an original score that makes my heart so happy.
October is going to be a really great and busy month. Before I can think about that though, I HAVE to make sure we raise at least $15k. I think I can do it, but I need your help.
Can you tell 2-3 people about the campaign? I've created a little sample you can copy, paste and share:
I'm supporting The Burden Film because I love the concept. It's about cultural appropriation. It's a confrontational sci fi short film created and directed by a Black woman. Representation matters. You can read about the film, its message and the team by visiting their Support Our Story Page. They have a little more than a week to meet their minimum goal!
The number 9 represents completion, although not a final ending. It's more like the fulfillment of one cycle so that you can prepare to initiate the next one. I'm running with that mentality!
Shea is The Burden's AD and my breath of fresh air on the project (ie she’s my right hand woman) As my assistant director, Shea will be acting as my liaison between me and the rest of the crew. She’ll create and manage the shooting schedule and shot lists, coordinating with all the department heads and acting as my stand-in director when I’m filming my own scenes.
Outside of working on The Burden, Shea stays busy!
Through her company, Mustard Seed Films, she is writing, producing, and directing. She is a radiant ball of good energy, and I couldn’t ask for a better AD to stand on set with. 🖖🏽✊🏽
If you wanna keep up with Shea you can find her on Instagram at @Sheabutterpro.
Remember you can check out Brandi and Shea’s videos on our Instagram Page @TheBurdenFilm
For the next #femalefilmmakerfriday post we’re highlighting two members of the team: Brandi Nicole, Producer, and Shea Harris, Assistant Director (AD).
First up is Brandi who has been writing, producing and directing her own work for years. Her first film, Muted, starring Chandra Wilson and Malcolm Jamal Warner was a festival favorite; winning the HBO Short Film Award. The film explores the collision between race, media, implicit bias and one mother's fight to find her missing daughter. Since Muted, Brandi has gone on to write and direct Aloha and now Spin which is currently making its way through the film festival circuit.
Brandi has been a godsend throughout this entire filmmaking process. As my producer she’s been instrumental in gathering the talent we’re working with. She’s also a crowdfunding pro; helping to advise me throughout this whole month of campaigning.
This site doesn't allow me to link so if you'd like to hear Brandi talk about her reasons for joining the team you can find them on our Instagram page @TheBurdenFilm.
If you wanna keep up with Brandi you can find her on Instagram at @CreativelyB as well as @RainyDayBlissInc (her production company)
Thanks to you all we hit $10k yesterday evening! Now we're going for the big goal. We have to get to $15k in order to keep the funds we've already raised. (How many times have I mentioned crowdfunding can be brutal?)
To the moon!
Well last week was great! We went from 65 supporters to 97! It was also a productive week for pre-production. We paid the deposit on the team’s dream soundstage. We fell in love with BLT Soundstagesthe minute we stepped onto the lot. It has everything we need, an attentive and helpful staff and space. You know we like space. Because we put down the deposit we’re officially locked in on our dates. We’re officially shooting November 11th, 12th, and 13th. It’s Veterans Day weekend and the premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever which makes me a bit emotional being that I named my new planet “New Wakanda” in the original script I wrote for the staged reading I did.
It feels like a good sign.
Stacia, our Production Designer and Costume Designer also shared her location and costume sketches with the team. It’s starting to feel more real, y’all.
This Week's Goal
This week the team’s goal is to get to $10k. If I’m being honest, I’d love to get to $15k this week so that we can keep all the contributions we’ve raised thus far.
If you’re reading this email, it means you have already helped immensely. Now, if you want to go above and beyond and keep this incredible momentum going, please consider asking 3-5 friends to join the movement. Or 10-20. Or complete strangers who seem like they might want to support the project and team. I watched The Woman King yesterday and it lit a new fire in me. Gina Prince-Bythewood and Viola Davis had to do so much publicity and marketing for this film because the studio, like many of them, told them people don’t want to see Black female-led films. Their film was number 1 this weekend. We DO want to see these films. There is a need for our voices. Our stories are needed and most importantly they need to be supported so thank you for supporting my film. It means the world to me.
Let’s continue raising our voices together and reach our goal!
For the next few #femalefilmmakerfriday posts we’ll be highlighting some of the amazing members of The Burden Team. Stacia Muse,our Production Designer AND Costume Designer for the Burden is up next!
Stacia is one of those artists that can stick her foot in a whole lotta different mediums and excel. She has worked in fashion, interior design and design within the entertainment industry. You can see her work on episodes of Portlandia. When she’s not on set, you can catch Stacia working within the fashion community. She had the opportunity to work with THE Jason Bolden’s fashion and design program for underrepresented high school youths this past summer at The Otis College of Art and Design. (Summer of Style @ Otis Extension) She has a ton of short film experience under her belt which was super important for us. The sky is the limit when it comes to designing a futuristic world on another planet. Stacia is tapping into my special imagination and helping me translate my dreams into a tangible visual world. I’m so excited for you all to see what Stacia has up her sleeves! 🖖🏽✊🏽
If you wanna keep up with Stacia and her musings (see what I did there?) you can find her on Instagram at @stacia_muse_designs and @ecomuses, as well as her web site, www.StaciaMuse.com
Check out what Stacia’s video at @TheBurdenFilm!
Our first week was amazing because of you all! I can't thank you enough. Because of you we have 65 supporters and we've raised 26% of our goal!!! We've been hard at work spreading the word on social media. Each Friday we'll be highlighting someone from the team. I started us off by sharing the impetus for writing the script as well as all the hats I I'll be wearing on set. You can watch the video HERE.
Tomorrow begins week 2. We’ve got a whole new week to build this big, beautiful community even more. Watch out for more highlights from the team on Friday and of course when fun announcements pop up I’ll share.
I want to thank all of you who were able to support us on our first day of the campaign!
Because of you we raised 10% of our goal today and we're closing out the day strong. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you.
I won't share updates daily. (You can expect one at the end of each week.) So if you'd like to know what's happening more regularly you can find me on Instagram and Twitter each day. I share thank you's as well as fun sci-fi related things on both our Instagram page @TheBurdenFilm as well as Twitter @LuvandKiwi. If you're on social media follow along!
photo by: jen white johnson , Instagram handle @jtknoxroxs