What better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than at the Black Women Film Summit? 

Hosted by the Black Women Film Network (BWFN) on March 7 — the day before International Women’s Day — the summit was filled with nothing less than inspiration and fortitudinous advice from some of the hardest working Black women in media today. 

Established in 1997, the Black Women Film Network was founded to increase the numbers of all cultures in the film industry and related areas. The organization seeks to preserve the voice of Black women, and unheard parts of Black History, through programs that empower and educate.

During the summit, attendees got a rare opportunity to connect and network with writers, producers, and film industry influencers. Informative panels were hosted, including “Actor Do’s and Don’ts,” “Podcasting and Producing” and “How to Write a Script in 30 Days.”

One attendee favorite was the sold-out “How to Pitch to Networks,” led by industry powerhouses — “Reel Divas” Ty Johnston-Chavis, film and television producer, Tamra Simmons, executive producer, and Shante Paige, music, television and film producer. 

Johnston-Chavis stressed the importance of writing pilots and how essential they are to preparing yourself for your overall pitch while Paige stressed the necessity of having an agent. 

“I absolutely love my agent!” Paige said. “In the beginning you’re going to be representing and pitching for yourself. It isn’t until after you have a few projects under your belt that you really require an agent.”

These ladies not only shared much-needed knowledge in how to pitch a project and get a show on the air but also provided encouraging words for making it through such a tough journey that sometimes may not seem so promising. 

“You can’t be afraid to be alone in your journey. You have to be all in, there is no time to be scared,” Johnston-Chavis continued, “take a look at your own responsibilities and make it work for yourself!” 

Simmons also spotlighted the idea of releasing fear. 

“What you do easily is hard for someone else, stay driven on your path and work on aligning yourself with the necessary people,” she said. 

Another highly anticipated panel was “Red Carpet Hosting Masterclass” with Francesca Amiker and Ryan Dennis of 11Alive’s “The A-Scene.” The dynamic duo delivered knockout advice about how to dominate the red carpet. 

“I feel like not only did I gain tips on red carpet hosting but also for navigating the industry as a whole,” said Shanique Yates, social/digital media coordinator for Aspire. “I could tell a lot of thought was put into the presentation. Ryan and Francesca’s passion beamed and you could tell they loved what they were talking about.”

Their tips included having great energy and flair always create a unique approach and how important it is to get questions from the fans off of social media platforms prior to red carpet events. 

That way, you avoid asking repeat questions and have a fresh spin above all other media outlets on the carpet. 

“Make sure you take the time to research other journalists and other interviews,” Amiker said.  “Think long term as opposed to short term when formulating questions, you want to be able to stretch the content.”

With such a successful turn out one can only imagine what next year’s Black Women Film Summit will have in store. 

“I definitely got a lot of bang for my buck, it was very intimate which I wasn’t expecting at all,” Yates said. “I got the opportunity to sit one on one with people I’m deeply inspired by in the industry. I gained much insightful feedback and got all of my questions answered.”

(Courtesy of Black Women in Film Network)
(Courtesy of Black Women in Film Network)

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