Highlight: Till is a must-see movie for today’s generation. Since George Floyd’s public murder in 2020, also called a modern day lynching, since and before it artists, activists, influencers, and Black mothers especially have painfully had to ask whether this world see’s the true humanity of all children, including beautiful Black children. The New York Times says that the film reminds us that “He Was Someone’s Son, Too”. Teens of today say they are eager to see it because there is something about seeing history with your own eyes. People who think they know the story must remember that his story truly has not been widely told to today’s generation. The movie shows the humanity and truth of his mother’s life and world. CNN tells us "Till" focuses on Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, as she fights to get justice for her son.” Her fight was a major catalyst for the Civil Rights movement but her son was not an object deserving to be reduced to a symbol. This is what so many mothers are hoping they never have to prove to the world about their own children, and that makes it a must-see for today’s generation, to help ensure that they truly don’t. His pain and her fight gave so many progress, we should be sure to honor their story enough to simply watch it and vow to never, ever repeat it.
Context: The entertainment business and marketing impact of this film is notable due to this filmmaking team’s ability to draw strong enough pre-release interest to warrant major motion picture theater chain distribution for a story that too many people assume they already know. So how did they do it? According to filmakers, Till is the a profoundly emotional and cinematic film about the true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14 year old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world. This important release in 2022 is a testament to the inarguable importance of the change provoking tragedy that occured as well as strong story telling and smart business practices, the remaining need for it to be told as a currently relevant lesson is also a less than complimentary statement about what we haven’t learned from the past tellings.
Let’s look at what 2022 creators can learn from this team’s steps so that more important content can get the attention that it deserves.
Tips & lessons to be learned from the filmmakers behind Till for current and rising Culture Leaderz:
Be Courageous - important content usually involves risks, don’t run from the moment, tell the important stories that you know the world needs to hear, feel, and heal from. Producers have told our team members and leaders personally that they are ‘sick of’ the lack of innovation. Getting the work ‘right’ is important but don’t be afraid to do it.
Be Human - the most powerful stories can and too often do get lost in the pushing a content usually involves risks, don’t run from the moment, tell the important stories that you know the world needs to hear, feel, and to heal from but use creative processes to keep the humanity present.
Do The Work - Till's Director, Chinonye Chukwu was humble enough to admit what she doesn’t know, set aside assumptions and cull through decades of research and documentation that the broader filmmaking team had from years of being in relationship with Myrlie Evers, the Till family and others. In her own words, she told ScreenRant this of the process: “I learned there's so much I did not know. There was so much about Mamie I didn't know; there was so much about Emmett that I didn't know. I didn't know who DR. T. R. M. Howard was, or about the community of Mound Bayou. It was an incredible, enriching education for me. And so that gets me really excited about what the audiences will be able to learn from this film. Because there are some people who think they know the story, but they really don't.”
Collaborate - we’ve said it before and will say it again (and again) defy the lie that you need to work alone or do most of it in order to be authentic, or original, or whatever. As much of a pivotal, catalyst that this story is, it remains undeniable that one of this project’s strengths that ensured it didn’t collect dust unreleased on a shelf falls within the depth of powerful collaborators who came together for it’s creation. An african proverb says, if you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far, go together.
Key questions & next steps to use on your own:
Pre-Existing Collaborator Meetups - groups of your potential collaborators are already getting together at conferences, festivals, in FB groups, in professional organizations and other under-leveraged places. Make a list of potential places to meet your next round of collaborators, the projects that you can collaborate on together, and then go - go meet them!
Remember WIIFM - Since you’ve read this far, you likely have an important passion project story that needs to be told and supported and enthusiastically embraced by fans. As you go forward, as important as we’re sure your project truly is - it is important, something burning within you for the world to receive is not there for no reason, but as important as it is still remember that each audience you approach needs to understand and see their WIIFM being met within your project. So what’s WIIFM? WIIFM is ‘what’s in it for me’. Cause, skill, reputation, or connections may get you in the door…but hard work, doing the research to understand your key audiences, and overserve their needs will keep you (and your project) a warm seat at the table. Producers and sponsors have financial responsibilities, how does your project serve them, Directors have goals to meet at each step in their career, how does time on your team serve their current needs, audiences, even sympathetic or passionate audiences have things they expect or want to avoid, serve what they want, expect, and need. Till’s team did a their audience a service by behing mindful of their audience’s readiness to humanize Black stories, but to yet not outright mine Black tragedy or be taken to yet another exhausting unsympathetic not personal path toward our the truths that the community has had forced up on it to bear. What do your audiences want, expect, and need?
Release Assumptions - Try some Q&A, ask about 5 people from each potential audience what they want/need in an area relevant to your project - let go of assumptions, find out what your business collaborating, production, promotional, and fan audiences need, then get busy over-serving it in way that benefits their path.
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