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Today is:
An Interview with Maori Holmes
By Jamica El is committed to a rebirth of thought through art and culture so we always try to give people the opportunity to express themselves. This time we sit with Maori Holmes, a writer, producer, and director and much more who has received grant awards from WYBE-TV and the J-Lab: Institute for Interactive Journalism, Leeway Foundation and is currently an advisory board member of the Foundation Arts Initiative and Girls DJ 101.  Holmes is a freelance writer whose had her work in Savoy and and she was on the a steering committee member for the 2005 National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) Conference in Philadelphia and a Peer Panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. This lady does everything under the sun and she does it with skill and passion. Holmes, a Los Angeles native, is currently a lecturer and full-time faculty member at Temple University in Philadelphia. (GC): What is your background in film and video production and how long have you been involved in it?
Maori Holmes (MH): I got started in film in high school working first as an actress in local productions and low-budget independent films. I was addicted to MTV's "Rockumentaries" and I went to college for journalism hoping to one day produce work like that. I ended up majoring in history because I wasn't happy in the journalism program but I knew if I learned about
the shape of the past that I would effectively be able to repeat it and share with others. I worked as a journalist for a while--writing--and the itch to make films was still in me, so I applied to graduate school. I ended up at Temple and earned my MFA there in Film & Media Arts in Jan. 2005.

GC: What do you consider to be the social contribution in your work?
MH: Unfortunately, we live in a time when a lot of people depend on motion pictures to provide them with truth. This means that they take what they see at face value and don't counter it or investigate any further beyond the image. I hope that my work makes a contribution in two
ways--by being careful to fully represent truth, and also as an opportunity to give voice to the voiceless and widen the mediamaking space...

GC: What were your influences?
MH: As I wrote, MTV's Rockumentaries, and also Eyes on the Prize, The Color Purple, all of Spike Lee's films, Dangerous Liaisons, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michelle Parkerson, Daughters of the Dust/Julie Dash, Julie

GC: What are some of your most positive and negative experiences so far?
MH: I honestly can't think of seriously negative experiences right now that haven't taught me something... After making "Scene Not Heard" I felt let down by some folks who I thought were on the same page as me in terms of celebrating a movement, and instead they were blocking me from distributing the film... But I learned a lot from that--for one, no matter what, always make sure to have releases signed--even if it's awkward at the time being :-) I've also had some bad experiences when folks I'm working with don't come through... but again, you win some and you learn some. Overall, it's been a positive experience, for which I am grateful, because I've been able to meet some cool people and
learn a lot.

GC: What has shocked or surprised you about the experience?
MH: I have been surprised by the amount of people who don't keep their word.

GC: Who would you like to work with in the future?
MH: Julie Taymor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okenedo, Catherine Martin, and Martin Scorcese.

GC: Who have you already worked with that you wanted to?
MH: Bahamadia, Jazzyfatnastees, Ursula Rucker

GC: Who do you make your pieces for?
MH: To shift perceptions of what is beautiful.

GC: What is your short term plans? Long term plans?
MH: My short term plan is to make the Black Lily Film & Music Festival the most kick-ass event ever. My long term plans include producing and continuing to direct and eventually costuming.

GC: Do you have any extracurricular activities?
MH: Huh? Not really, unless you count Black Lily. No time for extracurricular.

GC: Where are you and what do you do usually on a non-descript day?
MH: I am at home. I don't have non-descript days. I work at the Painted Bride from 10-6. I usually work all of those hours and then come home and work on Black Lily form 7-12a.

GC: What do you think of the film scene in Philly?
MH: The film scene here is pretty supportive thought it would benefit from being a little more competitive and having more opportunities to share equipment.

GC: What do you think about change (think of Uploading Change,'s slogan)?
MH: I think that change is unavoidable and that the most successful people learn to "surf" the waves :-)

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