Panel discusses Black filmmaking in Philly

Rel Dowdell is the writer and director of “Changing the Game.”—SUBMITTED PHOTO

City Councilman-at-Large David Oh, through his Black Film Advisory Committee, presents “The Next Step: Black Filmmaking in Philadelphia.” One of the committee’s main objectives is to make Philadelphia a hub for aspiring filmmakers, and tomorrow’s free and interactive event will feature networking and an expert panel discussing what it takes to break into and succeed in the film industry from the Black perspective.

“Providing an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers is a natural fit for the creative/innovation focus of my city council committee” said Councilman Oh, chairman of the committee on global opportunities and the creative/innovative economy. “The goal of this event is to have Philadelphia-based experts who have succeeded in the film industry share their advice and insights with people who want to follow the same career path.”

The expert panel will include Charlie Mack and Jamal Hill, the producer/director team of “Streets”; Tanya Hamilton, writer and director of “Night Catches Us”; Q Deezy of Hot 107.9 Philly FM and producer and actor in “Exit Strategy”; James Elam, producer of several feature films and documentaries; and Rel Dowdell, writer/director of “Changing the Game.” The moderator of the panel will be Michael Dennis (aka Mike D.), award-winning filmmaker and founder of Reelblack.

“Technology has really made it possible for anybody with an idea to execute on a high level as far as production quality value,” explained Dennis, who is a member of the advisory committee. “In the past, when everything was filmed, it was prohibitively expensive for most people to consider themselves making feature films. But with the DVD and digital, there are more opportunities for people to become filmmakers. I think the objective is ‘how do you make better films that people want to see?’ I mean nobody wants to make a film and then have it stuck in a drawer. These people on the panel have actually done it. They are all of the filmmakers that have not only produced feature films, but gotten them distributed nationally. They’ve taken different paths, but we’re calling it the ‘Next Step’ because hopefully, wherever you are in your evolution or development you’ll come away inspired to go further and learn either how to do it or learn from the panelist’s mistakes so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.”

“The Next Step: Black Filmmaking in Philadelphia” takes place on Jan. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street. The free event is open to all aspiring filmmakers in Philadelphia. To RSVP, visit For more information, visit


Contact staff writer Bobbi Booker at (215) 893-5749 or

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