No More Comics In LA has been a journey and we're still trekking however, we want to invite you into the experience.
As natives of the east coast, we understand our support comes from all over so hopefully these blog posts help make it feel like even if you're not here with us...you're with us.
The GoFundMe video was a very special piece of our project, because after writing the script we were faced with the challenge of finding a classroom and kids to play my students...on a Saturday morning...at 8 am...with no budget. Whew! This was going to be a challenge. However, as a substitute teacher, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to work with schools within my community where I have established strong ties with administration, and built strong bonds with students.
We had an amazing time filming, and I personally found it to be extremely humbling to have had Mr. McConnell and my students willing to commit their Saturday morning to helping “Ms.Gibbs” and her friends, film their project. I was moved by their involvement, and I know that they had a great time participating and being on set.
I would like to thank Mr. Tommy McConnell and my former students: Isaiah, Milan, Janay, Aidan, Zamora, Valeria, Alia, Dyahna, and Janay’s sister for their involvement in this video. This video would not have been possible without you!
TRISTAN (Director) | Shooting the pilot for NMCILA was very nostalgic. We all went to SCAD together, but this was the first time since leaving Savannah that we were able to work on a new project together. The crew was made up of friends who either owed us favors or we were asking to help us out (the usual LA indie film currency) so it felt very natural, and that made everything run smoothly. The only real issues we had was time, which robs every film sit eventually. Some parts we had to rush due to losing daylight or needing to be at other locations at a certain time. After wrapping and taking a look at the shots, I felt excited to see what the series would become at the end of the season. It definitely charged me up to keep working towards finishing season one and bringing it to an audience.
DOM (DP) | As we were finding our rhythm so was the talent Jojo and Lacey, I found myself at times laughing behind camera because their performance was genuinely funny and did not seem forced. Mind you, I’ve read the pilot script probably 40 times but their performance was so fresh. As we continued to shoot the remainder of episode 1, the better we got. But also certain scenes I found ways to put symbolic framing in some of the scenes. Like the the parking deck scene--I wanted to get some angles similar to how stand up comedy specials are shot when the camera is at a low stage angle looking up; but also wanted to show a moment where Jojo feels powerful. When it comes to telling jokes, she is in her element. And in the closing shot of the show, when Jojo is at the mic, we see some bokeh lighting behind her and her eyes lit up. I wanted you to feel what she feels at that moment, a star wrapped in her orbit of comfort, fulfillment and hopefulness.
We had a great time on set and established friendships with the cast and crew that will go beyond this project. Laci caught on that sometimes I have a sarcastic sense of humor, and acclimated quickly as you can see from the video. LOL
We were on the struggle bus when it came to production design (matter of fact, if you know a designer please hit us up: firstname.lastname@example.org), but we knew we wanted the set design to have a voice and help build our characters. From the books on the coffee table, to the albums on the wall, and the clutter on the floor--there's something to be said about who these characters are and what they want to say.
Around this time in particular, I was still playing Beyonce's Lemonade album heavy (uh uh, don't judge me) so it influenced the way I set the kitchen table (lemons and hot sauce) where our leads have their first scene together. That album represented the solidarity of women in both joy and pain...so with NMCILA being a dramedy of both struggle and stand-up involving a core group of women, it seemed to be fitting. Plus, I meannnn...we just love Beyonce.
There's a white board that hangs on the wall by the fridge in the apartment we film in. Each episode we write a lyric or song title on it that reflects the theme of that episode.
Kendrick Lamar's "Be Humble" for example was the theme of the pilot because Jojo starts the episode with a salary job and ends it being unemployed. Her situation has gone from a place of comfort to a place of humility and now she has to come face to face with the consequences of what that means.
However, while Kendrick instructs us to "Be humble/Sit down"...Jojo will have to literally do the opposite, i.e. stand up.
Every episode Jojo wakes up in a different HBCU shirt and we'll continue to shout out HBCUs until there's none left to wear. We want to show our appreciation to the establishments who inherently teach us to be revolutionaries and pave our own way. The first season is comprised of the HBCUs our crew went to:
North Carolina A&T, Morehouse, Florida A&M, Jackson State, Johnson C. Smith, Hampton, Clark Atlanta, Grambling, WITH SPECIAL APPEARANCES from Culture Savage's "Blacker The College, Sweeter The Knowledge" AND Chance The Rapper's "Thank You Michelle (Obama)."
"WE HONOR THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE THE FIRST TO HAND US THE TOOLS, WHEN SOCIETY DIDN'T WANT US TO HAVE THEM."