Most people’s phones buzz from message notifications, but recently, UT alumnus Nyles Washington’s phone has been buzzing for a different reason. Many of these buzzes are updates on a fundraising campaign — a campaign crucial to getting his short film on the big screen.
On Tuesday, July 10, the crew behind the short film “Other Black Boys” started a fundraiser to complete their post-production stage. “Other Black Boys,” or OBB, follows a queer, black college student on his path to self-discovery by exploring avenues of race and sexuality.
Washington, director and writer of OBB, said that he wrote the short film to shine a light on black men who don’t fit the status quo. In the black community, he said that men who don’t uphold the racial stereotype are often neglected.
“If you associate yourself with anything that’s not stereotypically black — playing basketball, playing football, listening to rap music — whenever you’re not inviting all these things that are stereotypically black men, it kind of results in emasculation,” Washington said. “With all of those different things mixed in, it kind of started the story.”
Washington also said that hiring UT students and alumni of color was top priority to ensure the film’s authenticity.
“We can talk the talk in front of the camera and have black stories, but it’s also happening for people behind the camera, and that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” Washington said.
After shooting the film last December, Mackenzie McMahon, producer and UT radio-television-film alumna, said the team has spent the past four to five months organizing the footage into a short film. They are now in the works of collaborating and funding a sound editor, sound mixer, colorist and composer, a costly process which McMahon said sparked the initiative to kickstart a fundraiser.
“We didn’t want to open up a big crowdfunding campaign when we had nothing to show for our work,” McMahon said. “Now, we decided it was a good time to show to our potential donors that we can show you exactly what we’ve shot and what we have to offer.”
A part of fundraiser donations have come from UT creatives. One of their project donors is Yessmeen Moharram, a theatre and dance sophomore who said she, as a creative, empathizes with their cause.
“Creatives often get taken for granted,” Moharram said. It’s really important to show to them through your support that their time and what they’re doing is really valuable to you and a greater community.”
The project’s support also extends beyond the UT creative community to other donors like Simone Harry, English and African and African diaspora studies sophomore, who feels stories like OBB need widespread attention.
“I want them to keep showing people that consider themselves other that they’re seen in circles and on screen and that their stories are relevant,” Harry said. I don’t want something like (OBB) to die out.”
Already a third of the way to their $7,500 goal, McMahon said that they plan to submit OBB for debut at film festivals such as SXSW and Sundance in spring of 2019 if their goal is reached a month from the fundraiser’s kickoff. But for Washington, who’s recently finished a first draft of OBB short-film version, these final steps have been tedious.
“I know that I’m extremely optimistic in trying to get (a short film) accomplished, but it’s a learning process,” Washington said. “I’m trying to be as patient as I can because the first thing we need to do is get the short film out and have a good story. And then, we can talk about that for the future.”