Number One at the Box Office?
Imagine This: Far From the Tree Number 1 at the Box Office!
My name is Sherri James. And, I am the producer for Far From the Tree. If you'll allow me, I want to blog about what it takes to produce a thoughtful, entertaining feature film about Black women. I want to bring you along as I figure out how to make a great movie with Black women in the lead roles and not have the film end up going straight to DVD.
Has it been done before? Absolutely! My sister in spirit, Stephanie Allain, did it with Something New but Black women didn't show up for the film in big enough numbers and the movie quickly went away from the box office. And, she went on Oprah!
So, I guess the real question is why do I think my film is any different. Actually, I don't. Stephanie did a great job and so did all the Black women who worked on the film - Sanaa Lathan (actress), Sanaa Hamri (director), Kriss Turner (writer)...amazing women!
Even though Black women didn't vote with their dollars in favor of Something New, I'm hoping you'll make my movie an event film like Sex and the City! I'm bold enough to hope that you'll fall in love with the characters in Far From the Tree, see yourselves in the women we're portraying and return to the theaters again and again for your Far From the Tree fix! I'm betting that perhaps you didn't know enough about Something New to support the film. I'm betting that if I give you enough information about Far From the Tree, then you'll support us when the film hits the theaters on the first weekend.
Okay...I'm going to stand on my soapbox for a minute. Bear with me...
Stories about Black women are WORTH putting on the big screen. I believe you want to see more than just a story about a woman who cannot choose the right man. I believe the intricacies of our lives are actually INTERESTING and COMPELLING enough to carry a feature film. I'm betting that if you and I get to know one another through this process, I'll learn EXACTLY what you want to see in a film and you'll learn enough about what I'm doing as a filmmaker that you'll decide to support that effort by going to the box office on the FIRST WEEKEND.
Okay, I'm off the soapbox...for now...For past three months, Jessica and I have been working on the business plan for Far From the Tree. We are raising approximately $2.5million to shoot Far From the Tree. Both of us are excited about the prospect of creating a movie that fans of Virginia and Donna's book will be proud of. We're both fans of Virginia and Donna and look forward to turning this book into a visual masterpiece.
As the producer for the film, I am very concerned about making sure Far From the Tree doesn't get overlooked in the marketplace. Films like Far From the Tree are considered "softer" fare - read movies made for women - and they tend to get squeezed out of the marketplace by larger studio films - read movies made for boys, probably white boys, ages 15 - 35.
While Jessica has to answer the question of what to include in the movie so that you have a satisfying movie experience, the perennial question on my mind is WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE YOU COME OUT TO THE THEATER ON THE FIRST WEEKEND, see the movie and then tell your friends about it so that they come out on the second weekend.
I think about Tyler Perry and I love the success he's enjoying right now with his films and I'm hoping that we can do the same kind of business with this film. i know you don't know me. And I don't have a funny character like Madea to entice you. But I promise you, we're creating an incredible story that will entertain you, make you laugh, make you cry and MOST IMPORTANTLY, depict positive images of Black women that will make you feel good about yourselves.
I think about Lil Wayne and how he just sold 1 million albums in one week and I'm astonished. Someone - I don't remember whom - told me that he spent hours each day building an audience for his music through social networking sites like myspace and facebook. And, I think to myself, "could I do the same thing for Far From the Tree?" so that when the film hits the theaters, MY AUDIENCE SHOWS UP and makes the film a number one movie. Do you think that can happen for this wonderful book? Do you think we can do that for one another? I give you a movie that makes you feel good and you give me a number one box office hit. Hmmm...imagine that...
I'm willing to dream big! I'm willing to imagine Far From the Tree is No. 1 at the box office!