Recently Uwishunu sat down with filmmaker Dennis Dortch to talk about his film, It’s A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy, and his life in Philadelphia. Have a read, and be sure to check out the premiere tonight at The Bridge on 40th and Walnut. An official selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, It’s A Good Day”Ã‚Â¦ has already sold out in advance ticket sales. There are still a limited number of cash tickets at the door though, and admission to the film is only $10.
Tell us about Philadelphia’s Independent Film Scene from your perspective? Do you see it growing, changing, evolving?
Since I haven’t lived in the area since I was a child, I’m on the outside looking in. But I still consider myself a part of the scene. We are all sharing the same experience as independent filmmakers across the country. It’s just the exposure and opportunities that vary. And sometimes that’s a double edge sword. Most people out here in LA are jaded and have less tolerance for indie productions. Unless you come with some money (and insurance), they don’t want to hear that you want to use their place to shoot in. I hear via the Film Office, this is a very production friendly town. A refreshing thought.
Back in the day, I used to think that you had to be in NYC or LA to “make it.” As I’ve grown older and wiser, often times just trying to make a living and keeping up with the city, distracts you from your art. The film is in your head, and you can make it anywhere. Once you’re done and it’s tight, NYC and LA is just a plane or train ticket away to showcase it and take meetings. And film festivals just costs postage.
How did growing up I Philadelphia influence your art?
My family is from Norristown. I was born in the 70s, when the pre-neo-soul “Philly Sound” from Gamble and Huff dominated the airwaves along with the Bohemian and Black Power movement in the social fabric of Black folks at the time. Together these factors influenced me with images of Black love mixed with the socio-political. Those images were of Black men and their women in their element. A Black woman supporting her man against “The Man.” The sensuality of a woman in your space. A woman contradicting herself because she doesn’t want to be alone. I knew I wanted to make a soulful film updating the theme of “Black is Beautiful.” Even though the stories are not necessarily directly on that theme, it’s all there in the imagery and composition. Blackness. There has been a brewing of a new Black renaissance in art and music, especially here in Philly. I wanted to be a part of that.
How did the Philly environment support what you do?
Even though I shot the film in Los Angeles, I still have the East Coast flavor in my art. And Philly’s flavor in my heart. So, by proxy, the environment supported me through the steady stream of music and culture coming out of the city. Gave me my roots.
Why did you choose to premier you film here?
Since Sundance, I haven’t shown the film much. Having the east coast premiere here made sense, because it’s like coming home. I sort of made this film in the spirit of Philly. If brothers and sisters here like it, I’m good. I did something. And to be accepted here, is a start.
Any plans to ever shoot a film here in Philly?
I plan to shoot my next feature here. It’s a revisited blaxploitation film set in Philadelphia 1972.
Can we be extras?
Yes, I’m going to need lots of extras! Please start growing your naturals now, so that they can be looking nice and thick by then.
Tell our readers about your film. What should they look forward to seeing at the premier?
We are describing the film as “A between-the-sheets peek at Black Love and Sexuality presented in six vignettes.” Hopefully they will see a Black film with soul. Reflecting the audiences perception of Black Love and Sexuality right back to them. A chance to see a piece of your experiences on the screen. And some black and sexy individuals. On the screen and in the audience. Hell, I’m looking forward to it myself.
And for those not in Philly… where can they go to see it ?
The film was fortunate enough to be picked up for distribution at Sundance by Magnolia Pictures. It will make it’s theatrical debut this Fall in Los Angeles. From there we will expand to other urban cities. Check the website and Myspace page for upcoming details. You can sign up for updates at the website and add us as a friend on Myspace.