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Making History In The Director's Chair

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Have you thought about motion pictures? This one question from a college professor would change the career trajectory of Felecia Howell.

Born in Virginia and raised in Washington D.C., Howell began her photography career in the nation’s capital when she picked up a camera in high school. Years later, when one of her college professors suggested she look into a career in motion pictures, she gave it some thought, got on some early productions as a student and fell in love with it. It was her love for the arts that allowed her to sharpen her skills in places like West Africa and work with various talents, such as Dr. Maya Angelou. While working with the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, Howell decided it was time to figure out her next move. She applied and was

Felecia Howell

accepted into graduate school at UCLA. While in L.A., she started producing music videos, while also working in advertising and theater.

When Howell realized she missed and wanted to get back into film, she started working as a script supervisor, a position she’s held for a number of years. Being a script supervisor has given her the opportunity to watch directors and work closely with various departments, including actors, production designers, costumers, makeup artists, and hair stylists. These opportunities allowed her to tap into her thoughts about how she would handle various situations if she were in the director’s chair.

Felecia Howell, on set

“While I was sitting there, often I would think, maybe, I would have done something differently or written something different; spoken to the actors differently. Then it just dawned on me. Well, maybe I should direct this.”

Shortly after her revelation, Howell had a conversation with a friend from a filmmaker’s group and learned about various programs that focused on the work of directors in the television and film industry. The program that Howell is currently going through is the New Hollywood Collective Inclusion Initiative.

“What got my attention was that they were looking specifically for women. They wanted to develop creators, directors, from as they put it “underrepresented groups”. A lot of times you do the prep work, and you just want the opportunity to do the work. This program is really looking to include women and people of color, {also} I was going to come away with something tangible at the completion of this program, and that’s really important.”

The New Hollywood Collective Inclusion Initiative program is assisting Howell in moving from the script supervisor position to making her directorial debut as an independent filmmaker. While the director position can have its challenges, Howell leans on her experiences to help her navigate her new role.

“What works for me is I do come from a production background so there are a lot of things I understand. There are so many moving parts to putting a project together and they all need your undivided attention. It can be time consuming; you have to be persistent.”

For the New Hollywood Collective Inclusion Initiative program, all of the participates have to direct a short film that is 15-pages or less. Howell wanted to create a short film that would challenge her, but at the same time not make her go “crazy” when she was trying to pull it together. The project Howell created was a 6-page supernatural thriller titled “The Last Wish”.

“It is the story of a birthday wish and a death wish colliding. It’s about unforeseen forces battling one another to release pain and resentment. The visual and sound effects for this film are important because it is under the supernatural genre. I want to create a lot of ominous energy in this piece. Forces that we may not see right in front of us. But there are always energies around us, good and bad. I wanted to use as many effects as possible. Just to make things come alive, things to breath, things to vibrate, things to shake, things to make you jump. Practical effects on set as opposed to post-production.”

By being a part of the New Hollywood Collective Inclusion Initiative program and upon completion of “The Last Wish”, Howell will be making history. This movement has been a long time coming for the film industry. Howell sees the need for inclusion in the industry and also the desire from consumers and audiences.

“People obviously realize that among the African American and other people of color audiences, there’s material that we identify with and we want to see more of, that we will happily pay for. We are starting to see more female directors, directors of color, but at the same time, we are only a mere drop in the bucket compared to the male directors out there working.”

Production for The Last Wish gets underway this month. Currently, Howell is holding a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGoGo. She chose to launch her campaign through IndieGoGo because it allowed her to ask for donations in a more legitimate way.

People can see what you are doing, see there’s a plan there, and you put thought

into what you are doing.

IndieGoGO also allows you to have a flexible goal and you won’t lose all the monies raised if you don’t meet your goal. Part of the importance of raising the money for this production is because the completion of this project allows for the possibility of some amazing opportunities, not to mention more inclusion in the film industry.

The end game for this, and the program is to get it on the festival circuit and at the same time, now have something under our arm as we go into these meeting with executives and they want to know what you have done.

Click the link below to support Howell in making history by contributing. There are added perks for your donation, such as a signed script and movie credits. As of this writing, there are still 24 days left to donate on IndieGoGo. You can also inbox Howell through The Last Wish Facebook page, even after the crowdfunding campaign closes. Shooting for the film begins this month.

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