by Contributing Writer, Donna Michele Ramos
Imani Mitchell is a mother, actress, student, activist, and womanist. She was born and raised in Sacramento and received her Associates degree in Theatre Arts from Sacramento City College. After going back to school to become a paralegal with plans to become an attorney, Ms. Mitchell was inspired to create Black Women United (BWU) due to her frustration with current day feminism. Her creation of the annual Black Women’s March initially starting in July 2017 was the first step in tackling the many issues within and outside the movement. As Ms. Mitchell has since resigned from BWU, she praises the team of BWU as truly remarkable and she is humbled and grateful to have worked with such a talented, powerful and resourceful group of women on board with the BWU mission. Ms. Mitchell is now pursuing her love and passion for creating and producing African American focused film projects. She is also a recipient of the EWOC-Exceptional Women of Color Excellence Award presented by the Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation in October 2017.
During a recent interview, THE HUB learned more about Ms. Mitchell’s new feature length movie entitled, “Whirlpool,” (written and produced by her) which will be released Fall 2019.
THE HUB: What is your movie “Whirlpool” about?
Mitchell: The premise of the movie is a family man has a very deep secret, that threatens to destroy his family at any moment.
THE HUB: What was the process of making the movie like for you?
Mitchell: From the very beginning it starts with a script, a story. I had an idea but didn’t write it down. I said I couldn’t write a script. I finally sat down and it only took me a month to write it. I had a series of events in my personal life that made me sit down because of a financial event. The company took the money out of my account for the Celtx screenwriting software update. Since I paid for it, I needed to use it. My dad passed away a few years ago. I got my love of movies from him and he always told me to write a movie. You need a good story, no matter how much money you have, you need a reliable and talented team. Find people who work like you and that you can depend on and work well with. We did guerilla shooting. You get tested on things you didn’t know you could do; I worked on audio. Being organized is a must, everyone on the set should trust you to know, that you know what you’re doing. You want people to want to work with you again. I also had to be punctual and found myself sending lots of emails.
THE HUB: How long did the movie take you to do, from inception to completion?
Mitchell: About 6 to 7 months.
THE HUB: Do you have a background in the film industry?
Mitchell: I do, as an actress; mostly theater work. As a director, I’m able to connect with actors. Sometimes they get in their heads about what they’re doing and I know how they feel. I know I’m never going back in front of the camera, even though being a director comes with a lot of responsibility. You have actors calling, P.A.’s asking whether to buy donuts or croissants. I was stretched and using parts of my brain I never used before.
THE HUB: How did you get your movie financed? Did you use crowd funding?
I received a sponsorship with a nonprofit, the Health Education Council. They do lots of work and it tied in with some of the things in the film, so it was a good collaboration. My friends and family also helped. This enabled me to pay the actors well. It was important to pay people for the effort they put in. It creates a different dynamic when people are being paid for their time and they are more reliable. My producer also acted in the movie, so he set the standard for everyone to rise to.
THE HUB: What advice would you give to aspiring movie makers?
Mitchell: They must develop a good story and solid vision everyone is intrigued by and everything else will come into play for you. If you find a story you think is good, shop it for feedback from your friends and family.
THE HUB: When will “Whirlpool” be in theaters?
Mitchell: “Whirlpool” is due out Fall 2019. I’m holding local screenings in Sacramento at the Guild Theater and maybe the Crest. There will also be a private streaming link, on the website: www.WhirlpoolMovie.
Contributing Writer, Donna Michele Ramos
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