4 Reasons Most Black Films Fail

MICAH OVERBY / MARCH 11, 2021

Man not enjoying movie

Once upon a time (before Black Panther), Black filmmakers were told that our movies could never perform as well as the ones with White writers, directors and actors. Even though that myth has been dispelled, there are still some things that you should consider before going to work on your next film.

 

Here are 4 reasons why most independent Black films fail:

 

1. Not Enough Effort Put Into Telling The Story

It doesn’t take much to make a movie nowadays. Anyone with an iPhone and an editing program can add a title to Prime Video Direct or upload their work to their YouTube or Vimeo account. A lot of filmmakers depend heavily on the use of the latest gadgets and gear to capture high-quality images. But the thing that keeps most viewers from taking many of those films seriously is the lack of storytelling. The best way to win over an audience is to give them a good story, and every good story should have a main character (usually called the “protagonist”), a mission that the main character is trying to achieve, and at least one character (the “antagonist”) that is standing in the way of the main character as he/she tries to accomplish his/her mission. There are other ingredients that can be added to that but understand that most people lose interest in a movie when it’s not clear who they should be rooting for or why.

 

2. Poor Editing

Simply put, the process of editing involves joining together various shots to create the film's scenes. A film editor must not only arrange each shot in chronological order but must also make sure each transition is timed properly. One could argue that sound editing is the most important aspect of the process although it is the most overlooked by Black filmmakers. A movie with great sound and poor visuals will hold a viewers attention longer than a movie with great visuals and poor sound so it would benefit many Black filmmakers to invest more into the sound production of their films. Having sound effects that are perfectly timed with the action on the screen as well as having music that goes along with the mood of the scene can not only push the story forward but can also keep the viewer’s attention. 

 

3. Many Black Filmmakers Do Not Treat Their Film As A Business

In business, a good business plan not only helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps necessary for them to make business ideas succeed, but it also helps them to achieve short-term and long-term objectives. Your film should be no different. Before you begin shooting, it would be a good idea to create a film business plan that may include an executive summary of your project, the amount of money required to complete the project, a shooting schedule and more. It would also be in your best interest to have any necessary agreements or contracts signed by members of your cast and crew before you begin filming and, if any money is involved, make sure it’s clearly understood by all parties how it will be divided.

 

4. Most Filmmakers Don’t Connect With Their Audience

Imagine being a Five-Star Chef that owns the restaurant. You have just finished cheffing up one of the tastiest dishes you've ever made but, because you don't have enough money to hire employees, your restaurant doesn’t have any waiters in it. How would you get the food to your customers? The correct answer (if you wish to remain in business) is take the food to them yourself. One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of filmmakers (especially independent filmmakers) make is having no interest in connecting with their audience. They will think that, just because their movie is on a platform, people will automatically see it. That is the furthest thing from the truth. With the amount of content on any given platform, it's easy for your movie to get buried behind thousands of other titles and never get any exposure. It’s up to you to identify your film’s audience and connect with them. Don’t just make the food; bring it to their table, too.

 

There are other factors that can contribute to the failure of a film. The ones listed above are some of the factors that stood out the most to me. Please feel free to comment and share some of the reasons that make you lose interest in movies.