NBFF Rolled Out The Red Carpet At Last Week's Film Festival.

NBFF Rolled Out The Red Carpet At Last Week’s Film Festival.

Last week, The 1st National Black Film Festival kicked off on April 5th with a Meet & Greet at “The Flat.”

Walking into the low-lit lounge, classic hip-hop played in the background. Curated cocktails and homestyle pizza spread across tables.

As we made our way around the crowds, we saw a familiar face. NBFF’s co-founder, Denisha “DeDe” Hardeman, who instantly greeted us with this energetic, radiant vibe of positive energy. DeDe filled the conversation with laughs and what’s to come for the festival. Moving through the crowd entertaining guest. Making sure this social soirée was running as smooth as a poker table.

Denisha, a native Houstonian moved to Los Angeles to follow her dreams after being encouraged by Samuel L. Jackson. From a background actress in the Oscar-winning film, “Django Unchanged,” starring in commercials, indie films, television shows and the mega film, “Straight Outta Compton,” we are excited to see what she does next! On top of all that, this crazy amazing woman has written 9 screenplays and recently finished her first book as a published author, “8 Lanes.”

The man of the hour, J.O. Malone (Founder of NBFF) arrived and there was an instant boost of admiration in the air. Between the small talk and quick cameos, Malone’s enthusiasm for the festival was beyond inspirational. He spoke highly of those who helped make NBFF a success and expressed how he wants to continue to uplift the success in black film. Malone, a film producer and owner of J.O. Malone Studios, established himself in the independent industry with seven films and currently producing a feature film, “Soul Damage.”

“We’re setting a higher standard in black film” – J.O. Malone

As The Flat continued to fill with guest, we met with one of the newer faces to hit the big screen, the very stylish Orlando Valentino. Giving us the 411 on his works in the movie Carter High and insider on his strategy for his acting workshop that would take place the next 2 days. By the time 9:30 hit, we moved to the fashionably elegant patio to catch up with Ky Meyer.

Ky Meyer, one of the guest panelist for the festival, has been in the music and television industry for over 15 years. Tuned In has been shining a light on the Houston music scene and featured some of the heavy hitters in the rap industry like Bun B, Lil Keke, Paul Wall and Slim Thug, to name a few. She is always out and about in the city and heavily involved in its community efforts. We discussed the importance of collaborating and how this new shift in the way we communicate amongst other creatives will lead us in the right direction to create change for the future.

The NBFF was hosted at the newly modeled Marriott Marquis Houston. This festival was the first of this kind and a three-day event highlighting African American producers, writers, and actors.

One of the staple speakers at the panel was Everett Taylor, founder, and CEO of digital marketing firm MilliSense and growth strategist for Microsoft. A social media marketing mogul and co-founder of marketing community GrowthHackers. He gave very valuable tips on how to promote anything in a sometimes scary world of internet marketing.

 He stressed the facts of becoming the best at what you do whether it’s acting or filmmaking, to make sure you study to be the best at it. To build a following on social media, he explains how Snapchat gives you an engaging platform. Followers will come especially if you get to know your audience and forget quick tricks. Instead grow your audience by developing your product.

Le’Andre: Why did you choose Houston?
Denisha: Houston is a very diverse place with immense talent. We believe it’s the new New York or LA. You can film any type of movie in Houston. There are no taxes on filming like in New York and L.A. Not to mention the cost of doing business is cheaper here.

Le’Andre: So, what’s up with the award ceremony?
J.O. Malone: We don’t want to look for acceptance outside of us this is the reason for the award ceremony.

Le’Andre: Why do you feel this Film Festival is necessary?
J.O. Malone & Denisha: It is necessary because you hear talks of black people feeling overlooked and typecast in films. There are so many facets of our stories that are untold. We wanted to create a platform for people to see those different voices and gain an appreciation from the community.

“Before we can criticize, we have to make sure that we build up and give people the tools they need to be up to par.” -J.O. Malone

They most definitely lived up to that statement.


Sponsored by Houston Community College

Photos Courtesy of Doogie Roux