The Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video, now in it’s 17th year, runs through September 1, will give filmmakers everything they’ve come to expect: from short to feature length movies on video and film that celebrate the black experience. The festival showcases the work of independent filmmakers from Chicago and around the world. Event organizers have rounded up a plethora of outstanding movies such as: MONEY MATTERS, PARAMOUR, and PHUNNY BUSINESS: A BLACK COMEDY to name a few stand out examples. In this 3 part series we’ve chatted with each filmmaker to gain further insight on each film.
MONEY MATTERS, winner of the Urban World Film Festival’s HBO Screenplay Competition, is a coming of age drama that follows the turbulent relationship of 14 year-old Monique “Money” Matters and her mother Pamela. Pamela, who uses religion to deal with her own personal demons, pushes religion on her daughter so when Money develops a special friendship with a gangbanger girl, she knows she must keep it a secret. As the plot thickens it becomes clear that Money is not the only one with secrets as the riddles behind her mother’s mysterious past are answered.
Award winning filmmaker Ryan Richmond will be in town for the premiere of the film showing on Monday August 15th at 8:00PM at the Gene Siskel Film Center located at 164 N. State Street in Chicago. www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest2011
PRIDEINDEX: Why did you become a filmmaker?
RYAN RICHMOND: I started as child actor and caught the bug for theater and film at an early age. I didn’t get into story telling until college and grew into directing from photography. I enjoyed telling stories through imagery and decided that telling truths of my culture was just as important to tell as any other.
PI: Tell us about some of the film festivals MONEY MATTERS has played and where do plan on showing it next?
RR: The feature screenplay, MONEY MATTERS, was selected by Tribeca Film Festival’s All Access Program, won UrbanWorld Film Festival’s HBO Screenplay Competition and won 2nd place for the Larry Neal Dramatic Writing Competition. It won Audience Favorite Award at Roxbury International; a Finalist in the HBO competition at the African American Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, featured at UrbanWorld, Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference Film Series and was nominated for Best Director at the Pan African Film Festival. On November 15th the film will be released nationally on DVD.
PI: What do you want to take away moviegoers to take away from MONEY MATTERS?
RR: I want the audience to care to ask questions about the issues touched on in the film. I believe despite these issues being prevalent in our communities, until it affects us directly we don’t care to get involved, particularly in the predicament of our youth.
PI: Briefly describe some of the notable challenges you experienced during the making of MONEY MATTERS and how you did overcame them.
RR: There were so many it’s hard to narrow down. But, it was tough material to have youth deal with on camera. It was tough to find those that could handle the material.
PI: Single parenting and gangs are themes that you touch on this film, why did you go there?
RR: I think single parenting is very common these days. Although I have seen on film a teenager dealing with pregnancy, I have not seen that young adult with a teenage child try to figure their relationship out. That’s what I wanted to explore with this film. The gangs, I felt is a current issue, particularly female gangs and I felt it was worth addressing.
PI: Tell us about the casting process, how many women auditioned for the lead role and when did you know you found the right actress for the part?
RR: Casting took around six months. We went to NY, LA, and Baltimore but we found the lead girl in DC and she was able to capture the authenticity of DC and embody the role.
PI: Name at least 3 people that have influenced your artistic style as a filmmaker?
RR: Steven Spielberg, Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn, and Gordon Parks.
PI: Where did you receive your formally training?
RR: I graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
PI: What other projects are you working on?
RR: Right now I am writing my next unnamed feature.
PI: If you could go back in time and make MONEY MATTERS all over again what would you do differently?
RR: I am extremely proud of the film I have made and I did it with very little means. The only way I’d go back and do something different is if I had a significant budget. If that were the case everything would have been done differently. There is just simply put more options and access with money.