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Independent African American Film Producers

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Independent African American Film ProducersIndependent film producers are professional producers who make feature films that are mostly produced outside the confines of the system of major studios (Levy 29). In addition to production, as well as distribution, through independent companies, these producers can also distribute and/or produce their films via major studio subsidiaries.These films are also characterized by marketing them as a limited release, although there are times when the marketing campaigns can be done through wide release (Reid 48). Prior to distributing the films, independent film producers will screen their movies at film festivals. This paper will seek to give the biography of three independent African American film producers. Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, and Ivan Dixon. Biography of Tyler Perry Born in New Orleans on 13 September 1969, Tyler Perry had a difficult childhood. He has had to forge his career in the entertainment industry, in which he has made various successful plays, films, and even written books that have ended up on the best-sellers list. According to him, his childhood was difficult in a family with three other siblings where his early life was punctuated by corporal punishment by his father (Uschan 30). He once attempted to kill himself to escape what he fathomed to be a difficult life. In an attempt to forge a life away from his father, the man born Emmitt Perry Jr. changed his name to Tyler and dropped out of high school, although he did go on to earn a GED general equivalent later on in his life. He only discovered his passion after trying his hand at several unfulfilling employment opportunities. Watching Oprah Winfrey on television, he was inspired by an independent filmmaker’s comments on the show about how personal breakthroughs could be brought about by difficult experiences (Uschan 31). Starting by writing a series of letters that he addressed to himself, Perry used his experiences to create his first musical I Know I Have Been Changed. While touching on the subject of his abuse as a child, Perry also touched on forgiveness, an aspect of his films that has been ever-present, reflecting the seriousness he takes his faith as a Christian (Uschan 31). His first showing of the musical in 1992 only drew an audience of 30 people. Perry was disappointed but determined and took odd jobs to fund his reworking of the project. Although he staged his show in various American cities, he was still not successful and had to live in his car for a while. Perry finally got his breakthrough in 1998 with the musical I Know I Have Been Changed, for which rented the Atlanta franchise of House of Blues. Soon he began to draw sell out crowds, forcing the musical to be moved to a theater with more sitting space (Uschan 36). He followed up this musical with an adaptation of Woman Thou Art Loosed, a book by Televangelist T.D. Jakes, which also proved popular with audiences, particularly African Americans. However, it was his next project, I Can Do Bad All By Myself that brought him the success he had been craving and introduced Madea, his most famous character. He based the character of Madea on mature women in his life, including his mother, choosing to play the character by wearing a drag and changing his voice. Madea made her screen debut in Diary of a Mad Black Woman in 2001 and making subsequent popular appearances in Madea’s Class Reunion and Madea’s Family Reunion, for which Perry toured extensively around the country in support of his films (Uschan 36). Diary of a Mad Black Woman proved a hit at the box office, starring Steve Harris and Kimberly Elise as an adulterous husband, and scorned wife respectively. Perry himself made an