Enter the screenwriter (for real)

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Yes, I’ve dabbled with screenwriting – in between years of poetry and fiction. Most of my self-published novels were attempted in screenplay form at some point in time – but never with any real intent of doing something with them. I’ve written three act plays. I’ve circled around serious screenwriting for years. Now, I’m determined to land. Having moved to Miami, FL (where the ABFF is held) and connected with far too many people in or around the business, I see recent developments in my life as divine intervention screaming at me: “Really dude?! Do I need to send Spike Lee to your door (not that I would mind)?” I have had some issues over the years in making the conversion substantive. I had grown accustomed to not trusting people to get things done over the years. You don’t really need anyone to write and self-publish a book or write a poem. The thing is, when you do learn to incorporate others, much more can be accomplished. Your vision can be fully realized as well as improved. I have been motivating, inspiring people in classrooms for years. I’ve created literary magazines and poetry groups with people, so it can be done. I just had to realize it and admit it to myself. I fear ruts more than any intimidation in trying new endeavors.

I have spent this summer (I’m a professor at Florida Memorial University) reading voraciously about how films are financed, produced, directed and distributed. I’ve started following film festivals. I was independent black films on Magic Johnson’s ASPIRE cable channel every Monday. I frequent an independent film house here in Miami. At times I chat with my friend Rob Hardy, a TV director I went to school with at FAMU (Florida A&M University) on different aspects of the business. Russell Motley, a well connected professor of journalism has helped me learn the ropes as far as networking (more on that later). All that and I still feel like I am not fully articulating my vision when I talk with people.

Oh, the screenplay… yeah, I guess it’s important to discuss the project I’m starting this new phase of my artistic career bringing to reality.

North of the Grove is a coming of age story that adds a fresh perspective on the challenges of mentoring inner city kids who have the odds stacked against them. Howard Capelton, a troubled middle-class black man living in South Florida, has fallen out of touch with his family and community. Howard yearns to make amends for a dark childhood secret and conquer guilt over his success and seclusion by serving as a mentor to David, an angry 10-year-old boy from a nearby Coconut Grove housing project. As Howard’s pregnant wife grows uneasy with the relationship he shares with David and David’s young and brash, alcoholic mother, Howard becomes more aware of David’s struggles. Howard finds a lot of his untested advice may not be enough to show a young a boy how to survive the pitfalls of a gang-infested neighborhood. Tensions at home and the gang culture in the streets lead both of them into making decisions neither is prepared for. As a result, Howard and David’s lives are forever changed, along with everyone around them. Howard’s flawed, yet poignant journey opens up new ways to address prevailing assumptions about classism, single parenting and the responsibility of one’s community to each of its members.

That was my synopsis. Let me know what you think of it. Welcome to my journey.


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