Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Filmmakers You Should Know: Britt Banks


Britt Banks, donning a Halloween II graphic tee that resembles a VHS cover is delightful stimuli. On camera, she articulates her goal to unpack and recreate in her image, the building blocks of fear. Inspired by some of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema history, Banks is keen on tension building and heightening the sense of the unknown and unpredictable. You gain all of this by observing her pitch for Ronald, a melinated, Dexter-esque a web series that shadows a tech blerd (the title character played by Ernest Keith Walker) who wrestles with winning the heart of his now reunited childhood crush and his apetite for massacre. Currently, Ronald's solid teaser reveals a narrative dipped deep in night hues that'll make you delete that rideshare app and walk instead. Hot off Black Mirror's "Smithereens".

Ronald  uses the genre to touch on a distinct experience. He's reached a break in negotiating his identity in regards to respectibility politics while being a black person in America. Being a do-gooder, smart type that makes white folks "comfortable" doesn't save him from discrimination and racial prejudice. Exploring topical concerns is not new to this award-winning filmmaker. Banks directed Thicke, a textured montage about the real life emotional aftermath of a reckless police shooting of an unarmed Black man, took home Best Live Action award at the 2017 Long Beach Film Festival. Her purposeful liberties behind the lens has been her most rewarding and celebrated work thus far.

Ronald (2019)

The L.A. based, University of California, Irvine grad was born in Gary, Indiana but raised in Long Beach. She began in the arts as a performer, studying theater in spaces such as the Amazing Grace Conservatory lead by Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Steve Harvey Show, Miss Congeniality). "Acting for me is a hobby," Banks makes clear. "Some artists paint as a hobby, and my hobby of choice has always been acting. Personally, I have never been interested in pursuing acting professionally, but as a director who has taken acting classes and performed in small stage plays, I have a deeper well-rounded understanding of what it is that I expect an actor to do for me. It’s beneficial no matter what facet of the industry you are in."

A successful self-starter, Banks did independent research and shadowed any director that would grant her presence on set. She was encouraged to enroll in the Feature Film Screenwriting certificate program at UCLA due to her impressionable prowess amongst her peers. As a current student, she hopes to gain "a more in depth understanding of the screenwriting technique. My goal is to be as polished as possible when it comes to my writing." While hard at work to make sure she has winning scripts, Banks still understands the odds she faces in horror and connecting with the underserved black audience. "The recurring sentiment in the Black community is that most are not fans of horror and typically will not support horror projects, making it even more difficult for black creatives in horror."

How does she recify this? By nailing an enticing pitch that describes Ronald as "FX’s Atlanta meets A&E’s Bates Motel," two pioneering series' in modern television. Marrying the force of Atlanta's surrealist quirks of humanity within the Black experience with Bates Motel's neo-noir sensibilities derived from the famous Psycho (1960), Banks created a clever hook that rings of promise for a solid affair. Banks confirms, "This is an important time for Black creatives in horror. We are here, we are showing up, and we are showing out and it is not going unnoticed. Through crowd funding platforms, you could potentially gain support from complete strangers who are excited about the new fresh wave of Black creatives in horror."

Being on the horizon of this wave means there are still milestones that haven't been met, particularly by Black women in the horror genre. "Black women are the true gatekeepers of the American horror stories," Banks asserts. "Black women have the most crucial, untold horror stories. For Black women creatives in horror, it is not a case of being devoid of originality, it is a case of lack of funding, minimal resources, and opportunities not being afforded or easily accessible to create our stories. This is truly the time for Black women to be taken seriously and elevate our voices in the horror genre."


Stay up-to-date on Ronald and Britt Banks on Twitter (@ronaldtheseries & @BigHorrorBanks)
Instagram, additionally.
www.brittbanksproductions.com for a full bio, portfolio, and more!
VoyageLA meets Britt Banks



Her micro-experiment "Trap Horror"

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