How Bad Did COVID-19 Hit You Financially? Here’s My Story.

During these unprecedented times, I certainly hope you are all staying safe.   There has been a lot of talk about testing and surges, along with macro-level economic impact.  On a microeconomic scale, how bad has the novel CoronaVirus hit you? 

How Bad Did COVID-19 Hit You Financially? Blog Post Graphic. Animated Gif. Crying Emoji. Virus Image, IRS, Stimulus Status, Fiat Pop 500c, Car Accident

STIMULUS

COVID-19 struck my wallet hard and fast.  Nonetheless, I am sure that beats testing positive for the virus.  I have not received the $1200 stimulus check and I am honestly not even sure why.  Periodically, I would check the IRS website for status, however I am hit with the perpetual “payment status not available” message.  Somehow, though, the treasury managed to issue $1.4 billion in stimulus funds to over a million dead people.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Amidst curfews, social distancing and mask requirements, freelance opportunities in photography and videography dried up.  I did, however, maintain a conventional position which I assumed would result in eligibility for unemployment.  I filed a claim with the Washington, D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) and proceeded to certify weekly.  I even completed and submitted the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) forms; I’ve yet to receive a dime.  Unemployment insurance scammers have been cashing out nationwide, though.

UNEXPECTED EXPENDITURES

My car was left parked throughout most of the pandemic.  Just my luck that I got into a car accident one of my first trips out; t-boned by some idiot, speeding in the rain with no regard for traffic laws.  I wasn’t at fault, and I wasn’t injured.  However, my precious Fefe … Fiat Pop 500c was pretty banged up and left with an inoperable passenger side door.  I call National Continental Insurance, the offending party’s insurance company, and it turns out this is a Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP)I never heard of this before, but apparently, it is a $1/day car insurance for Medicaid recipients that doesn’t cover anything unless the car accident kills you or leaves you in a vegetative state. The death “benefit” is a whopping $10,000.  I can’t imagine someone’s life being valued at such a minuscule amount.  I spoke with the representative who forwarded the denial letter and her reply was classic: “Yeah, that’s just how it is.  Wouldn’t matter if they hit ten Lamborghinis.”  How reassuring.  Here I am, paying through the nose for an insurance policy because of discrimination (ugh) … age, risk factors, statistics, and mysterious underwriter voodoo.  My personal policy has a small under-insured motorist benefit and *fingers crossed*, that will kick in to assist with the cost of repair.

CONCLUSION

I am in a lease and still have to pay rent (w/ WIFI and utilities), still have to eat, still have to pay my cell phone bill, still have to buy toiletries, magically come up with tuition payments etc..  For some people, their biggest concern during this time is not being able to get a haircut and I’m jealous.  Must be nice!  Some people are having an absolute field-day and are not eager to return to work; personally, I cannot wait. 

In my next blog post, I will share some freelancer resources, ideas, and things I’ve been doing to make this time more productive.

If you aren’t in dire straits and wish to toss a few coins into my virtual tip jar, FEEL FREE.

What is Black Cinema? A Video Story. Film Criticism [Assignment]

Here is an excerpt from one of my Film Criticism assignment submissions.  The final video story is a 10-minute travel through time with b-roll curated from various online sources to corroborate the message.  I explored the meaning of black cinema, the history, cultural significance, theories, challenges, and future.  I highlighted the origins, silent film era, race films, blaxploitation films, the work of pioneer Oscar Michaux, independent cinema, notable challenges, the structure of Hollywood narratives, and the theories of Manthia Diawara, bell hooks and Haile Gerima.  The later describes cinema as a weapon, and “one of the most unexamined, unscrutinzed tool(s) of colonialism” detailing how mass media exploitation prescribes a view of blackness that perpetuates the disenfranchisement of Black Americans. 

What is Black Cinema? Film Criticism. Video Story. Assignment Submission. Screen Capture. Professor Sam Harman. Howard University.
What is Black Cinema? Film Criticism. Video Story. Assignment Submission. Screen Capture. Professor Sam Harman. Howard University.

What is Black Cinema anyway? 

Black Cinema is defined as classification used to describe film which involves the participation and/or representation of black people.  Now, this definition is quite broad and leaves some room for interpretation.  It could mean the film black cast, a black crew, a black director, a black story, or a focus on black audiences.

Alternatively, black cinema has been defined as a film recounting relatable common experiences and containing cultural elements that celebrate Black Cultural Identity.

Film director, Gladstone Yearwood defines black cinema as a body of films produced in the African diaspora which share a common problematic.  These films are a cultural expression of the survival impulse of African American culture and its struggle against marginalization.

Conclusion

Black cinema is not an isolated phenomenon. It has always been linked with social issues in the black community and served as the imagination of our aspirations.  Although challenges remain with funding and access, there is definitely a market for black stories.  It’s interesting to speculate in what direction black cinema would go.

If you would like to view the entire video story, send a message on the contact page or sign-up for mailing list.  I can also forward my voiceover transcript.  Best regards!

1st Year of Film MFA at Howard University Completed, Semester Reflection

What a bummer?!?!  While I am elated the academic year at Howard University has come to a close and I officially completed the first year of my graduate film school experience, something about this still feels incomplete.

When classes started in January, there was no way any of us could have predicted a pandemic would sweep through the nation and change life as we know it.  Classes were migrated to a virtual format, the status of my unfinished film remains in limbo, the film I was scheduled to DP was permanently postponed and my freelance photography / videography gigs were suspended amid curfew and social distancing requirements. Oh, and it gets better … my positions at Live Nation and Landry’s were furloughed as businesses closed. I’ve yet to see a stimulus check or unemployment check and sadly, I’m stuck in a lease in Washington, D.C., one of the most expensive places to live in America.  Putting it mildly, my life sucks right now.

Zoom classes are cute and all, but NOT when you are a film student.  The program is collaborative in nature!  We want access to equipment; we want to crew shoots.  Working on group projects remotely with behemoth sized files and varying degrees of software access and system capability is no fun at all.  I would have sat this semester out had I known it would wind up online.  With talks of additional COVID phases, the likelihood of next semester being online, no program funding for the film program and graduate assistant positions reportedly slashed 50% to measly two slots … an upcoming gap-year seems imminent.

Howard University Film MFA Graduate School - Spring 2020 Grades
Howard University MFA Film Student – Graduate School, Spring 2020 COVID-19 Grades

Mini Documentary, Official Featured Review on Rome Prisma Film Awards

Briana M. Andrews opens up like never before in a recent interview / mini documentary produced and edited by Richard Schertzer of Double R3 Productions. In this personal, reflective and introspective interview shot over the period of one month, Briana discusses her upbringing, career and future in film.

Briana shares information about what made her gain interest in the film industry, her affinity for the Garden State, reveals where the name BibbyFame comes from and more. This project was reviewed by the Rome Prisma Film Awards.

“An entire generation seems to express itself through a single individual, a girl, who in the space of the film becomes the voice of the hopes and concerns of the humans of tomorrow.”

Rome Prisma Film Awards

Information will be shared on where to find the video interview as it becomes available. Click here to read the review.

Career Update: Live Nation, Warner Theater DC – Premium Experience VIP Sales

I am pleased to announce I recently accepted a part-time position with Live Nation at Warner Theater, D.C.  This position doesn’t involve usage of my skills in sound, lighting, shooting or editing, however, I am still ecstatic about joining this live entertainment powerhouse and soaking up knowledge. 

My career background includes roles as a Brand Ambassador and Host.  During college, I handled retail-setting, customer-facing promotion for brands like Nespresso, Vega and Onnit.  Those positions pooled several skills including marketing, sales, hospitality, analytics and customer service – all of which proved useful in freelancing and building my client portfolio.  Most importantly, those experiences provided me with an edge in helping businesses conceptualize their digital strategy and shaping their visual brand story.  At this venue, I’ll assist with coordinating operations on the night of shows in collaboration with the Floor Manager, servers and security with the objective of assisting patrons secure an optimal concert experience.  Wish me luck!

MFA: Film Candidate Grades, Semester Reflection

Grades were posted; I just completed the 1st semester of Howard University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA M.F.A) Film program.  In this golden age for diverse stories and digital expansion, this is an exciting time to study cinematic arts at THE MECCA, which happens to be sole HBCU with the program.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for each student in my cohort and truly feel like I found my “tribe” aka crew.  Although there generally isn’t as much of an emphasis on grades in graduate school for creative arts (since more importance lies with your completed body of work), I am proud of the perfect 4.0 GPA I secured this semester.  It is imperative that I maintain solid academic standing since I’d like to teach courses in the future, and for now, have hopes of securing a TA slot and competitive internship positions in TV/film/media.  This semester was remarkably challenging, but incredibly rewarding. 

During winter intermission, I’ll be in New Jersey and New York completing freelance projects.  Reach out for bookings and collaborations.

Academic Paper [BLOG] – Italian Neorealism: Origin and Correlation with Documentary Style Film

Some of the aspects I appreciate most about my MFA program is the emphasis on global perspectives, along with the screenings of international films.  In my film history and film analysis courses, I became increasingly familiar with Pre-Classical Cinema, Soviet Montage Theory, German Expressionism, French New Wave, British Cinema (among others).  I enjoyed learning more about Italian Neorealism; which is often heralded as “the Golden Age of Cinema” and one of the most important movements in film history.  Italian Neorealism provided viewers with a with a realistic depiction of life in post-war Italy.  Some of the distinctive features of this movement include the use of non-professional actors and filming on-location. I admired the emphasis on bare-boned storytelling devoid of the fluff and grandeur popularized by its American cinematic counterparts.  It gave a dreary scene of the everyday conditions experienced by normal citizens in the aftermath of a fascist regime.

Although highly regarded as one of the most influential film movements, there isn’t much discussion about the origins and stylistic influences of Italian Neorealism.  Personally, this movement struck me as a documentary-hybrid of sorts.  I pitched this topic and completed a research paper to explore the factors that contributed to the popularization of this cinematic language, while drawing parallel to documentary film. 

The films were created to appeal to our sensibilities with harsh reality and an emphasis on humanity.  There are undeniable similarities between documentary film and Neorealism.  It can be argued that both are visual mediums which provide an accurate depiction of life.  For my research paper, the works of Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica were screened for primary research, and various sources were utilized to demonstrate the correlation between Italian Neorealism to Documentary style film. Both can be deemed anti-Hollywood film styles derived from political and social circumstances.

Screen grab of research paper on Neorealism correlations with documentary style film
Click image to access research paper

Freelance Spotlight: Happy RHOvember from Theta Mu Chapter [Producer, Editor]

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Artwork Graphic Soror with Cane Poodle Eeyip
SGRho Artwork, Original Graphic

As a Jersey poodle and distinguished lady of royal blue and gold, I absolutely love this time of year. Check out this promo spot over a STM instrumental remake created for Theta Mu, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. undergraduate chapter at Rowan University.  This year, SGRho turns 97.  The organization was formed by seven young educators on November 12, 1922 at Butler University.  With an organizational commitment of scholarship, sisterhood and service, its mission includes enhancing the quality of life for women and families in the U.S. and globally through community service, civil and social action.

While this is a Founders’ Day blog post, this video was actually created to commemorate Charter Day on the Theta Mu social media channel.  I was the Shreditor (shooter, producer, editor) and starred in this one one-man band piece shot at 114 Victoria, Nexus Apartments @ Rowan University.  Running time under one minute and optimized for socials. 

Theta Mu Chapter Crest - Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. NPHC Divine Nine D9 Rowan University SGRho
Theta Mu Chapter Crest

Career Update: Media Production DC TV (Public Access Corporation of the District of Columbia)

I am pleased to announce I recently accepted an intern position as a Production Assistant / Editor with DC TV.  This role is part of the media production crew with this Washington, D.C. based public access television station.  Thus far, I worked as a PA for a piece shot on a local food bank and edited spots aired on television.  I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work alongside such a talented group with a vested interest in the community.  DC TV provides opportunities for members of the community to be SEEN and HEARD. 

DC TV provides local programming created by and for DC communities, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Providing a platform for individuals to share their own stories is one of the unique aspects that stuck out to me as an applicant.  I am eager to learn more about broadcasting and television production, while also being afforded the opportunity to share insight from my previous experiences.

Some of the responsibilities associated with the position are as follows:

  • Assist with producing, filming, and editing video content which adheres to standards for HD Cable Television channels, streaming and online channels and social media platforms
  • Production Assistant on field-based shoots, edit content to produce engaging narratives
  • Conduct research topics using video archives, the internet, library archives and other sources to find b-roll
  • Assist with all components of production and post-production, mic guests for in-studio shoots

Click here to learn more about Public Access Corporation of the District of Columbia (DC TV). I am certainly excited to join the team, wish me the best of luck Fall 2019.

Career Update: Media Associate (Social, Digital Content Production)

I recently accepted a summer project / temporary role through August 2019 with an innovative STEAM academy in Northern New Jersey.  In this role, I’ll act as photographer/videographer/editor for in-house production: social media content, short-form videos and slideshows.  My responsibilities will include coordination, production and post-production of strategically planned marketing photos/videos across two company locations serving Bergen County, New Jersey and Rockland County, New York.

This short-term opportunity is ideal since I am relocating to Washington, D.C. in late August.  This academy teaches kids how to code and program smartphone apps, film and edit digital movies and develop digital inventions.  I will manage the social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), utilize scheduling software (Buffer), shoot photos and videos (Canon DSLR), and edit (Creative Suite, Movavi).  I’m happy to partner up with this company because STEAM = STEM + Media Arts.  In recent years, I volunteered extensively at Liberty Science Center as an ambassador, while also training and mentoring new volunteers.  I support learning methods that increase critical thinking and offer hands-on learning experiences.  It is particularly important that young children, especially girls are exposed to opportunities to use knowledge and skills in ways that are practical and applicable to the real world.

Little Ivy Academy Summer Camp Counselors & Staffers (Summer 2019)

Please note, I will still accept freelance photography and videography projects. Feel free to reach out for special pricing and seasonal studio shoots.