Trevite Willis is an emerging film Producer with two highly acclaimed independently produced feature films (“Blueprint” and “Children of God“) to her credit.
By Kirk Shannon-Butts
Hailing from the Crimson State, Alabama, Willis moved to Harlem, USA and set up her own production company, Southern Fried Filmworks, and has been riding the tide forward ever since with a full slate of original and groundbreaking indie films. Willis says, “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with filmmakers with dynamic visions, but also with a purpose of telling endearing and important LGBTQ stories.”
How did you get into film?
An ex-boyfriend was a budding director. I would handle craft services. I paid for the food, picked it up and manned the table. At the time, I was just being a supportive girlfriend, but in hindsight, I was learning the craft, so to speak.
Describe what a Producer does?
There are different types of producers. I’m an administrative producer, which means I fundraise and work with investors, lawyers, accountants, etc. I handle all the business processes of getting a film made. In addition, I oversee the film cycle: pre-production, production and post-production.
What is your ultimate goal in film as a producer?
I make films with a social message. My goal is to use film as an informative medium, creating a broad awareness to many issues that move me personally.
How did you get into the LGBTQ film genre?
A Filmmaker Magazine party. I walked into the room and gravitated to the first African American I saw, which was young filmmaker. We discussed his film project, “Blueprint.” I loved his passion about filmmaking. What really stood out, was having never thought about there weren’t many African American gay films that reflect a contemporary gay lifestyle. Immediately, I knew then I wanted to get this story out.
What has working with the LGBTQ community been like?
Wow, I have stories! It is quite difficult to find funding for LGBTQ films of color within the community and outside of it, and equally, difficult to find a distributor who knows how to properly release and promote a film to a LGBTQ community of color. In addition, like all communities, the LGBTQ community of color is not homogeneous.
Tell us about some of your projects and the reception to your work.
Both “Blueprint” and “Children of God” did very well on the film festival circuit. “Children of God” had a theatrical run and was picked up by Showtime. “Blueprint” was released and is currently available via TLA Releasing. Because of the groundbreaking nature of these films, both are still being requested for screenings all over the world. Pretty amazing.
What projects are you working on?
Currently, I’m in development on a feature called, “The Postwoman.” I’m very close to being fully funded on a feature about a man transporting Haitians to America. Also, I have an African American lesbian film about a woman coming into her own about her sexuality after being married and divorced.
What do you look for in projects (screenplays, scripts)?
I look for social issue films regardless of genre. I am very interested in sci-fi and action. Right now, I have a number of dramatic scripts. So I’m looking for something fresh and cutting edge.
Do you have a dream project? if so, tell us about it.
My dream project is to do a movie about Sammy Davis Jr. I read his autobiographies, “Why Me? The Sammy Davis Jr. Story,” it stayed with me for years. He had such an amazing life as a civil rights activist, entertainer, etc. Must be told.
Is it true, that the Producer is the only person who can fire the Director?
It depends. In the indie landscape, most directors are also the writer and a producer who owns the material. Now if I option the script, I can fire the director or anyone for that matter.
Where can people contact you? website? twitter? facebook? tumblr?
The easiest way to contact me is through the Southern Fried Filmworks website.
Kirk Shannon-Butts is a Film Director and Writer. His acclaimed debut feature film “Blueprint” screened in over 50 international film festivals, Pride celebrations and colleges and universities where it was nominated for “Best First Film” and “Best Film” from the African Diaspora.
Shannon-Butts was honored as one of the “OUT100” from Out Magazine and “25 To Watch in Hollywood” in Uptown magazine.
See it all at www.Flickeria..com.