Backtalk With Antoine Fuqua
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Film director Antoine Fuqua is one of a handful of black directors who makes action/suspense movies with box office success. In 2001, his movie Training Day brought in $77 million at the domestic box office and earned Denzel Washington a Best Actor Oscar.

While filming his latest movie, Brooklyn’s Finest, Fuqua involved the local community in the production by employing hundreds of residents of the Van Dyke housing projects, the central location in the storyline. But he didn’t stop there. At Fuqua’s suggestion, Langley Films, one of the film’s producers, donated roughly $100,000 in equipment in 2008, including five cameras and editing software, to start the Fuqua Film Program, a 12-week summer program for Brooklyn youth. His goal is to enroll 15 to 20 kids each year; teach them the craft of directing, writing screenplays, editing, and other skills; and have them each shoot a short film.

The 44-year-old Pittsburgh-born director spoke with Black Enterprise to discuss his inspiration for the program, the obstacles he came across, and the future for black filmmaking.

Why did you think it would be a good idea to create a film program for youth?
I wanted to give kids a chance to learn the arts. When we did Training Day, most of the guys weren’t actors, you know. They were from the neighborhood–so-called gang members. I went back down there and a lot of them were dead or in jail. It was heartbreaking for me. So when I got an opportunity to shoot in Brooklyn, I wanted to find a way to give them something and not just leave them behind.

What are the goals of the Fuqua Film Program?
I want to give kids an opportunity to better understand what it means to be a filmmaker. I never had that growing up. I just watched the movies. Some people love the fantasy of it but there is a lot of work that goes into it, and that is what I want them to understand. You have to learn the craft, but also to show that you don’t have to be an actor or director. You can be a grip, electrician, makeup artist, set designer, set decorator, whatever. And some of them have careers that last longer than the people in my position.

What were the challenges of working with youth in an economically depressed community?
We discovered one of the guys in the program could barely write. He had a vision, he could talk it through, but he couldn’t write it out in any way. He needed a lot of help in a lot of areas, but he had something he wanted to say and he actually did a really good short film. That is something that we have to now find a way to deal with. I think there is a lot of talent with these kids. Obviously, we want them to have a certain level of reading and writing and I haven’t determined exactly what that level is because the playing field is not that even. So I try to make it open to any young kids who have the passion for it and take it from there. I don’t want to exclude someone just because their skill in writing is not up to par.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.