Introduce yourself to the world.
My name is Julius B. Kelly ,filmmaker, storyteller and father. I’m the co-founder and C.E.O of the independent production company Sunnyside Down Productions based out of New Jersey.
1.When it comes to storytelling, where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from life experiences that involve friends and family. Also I’m surrounded by so many talented creatives that produce so much good work that it inspires me to shine brighter.
2.What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The number one challenge is gaining financial backing and/or raising money for independent projects. I think it comes down to everyone’s own dreams and being able to answer the question often asked when shopping your project around; “Why should I invest in your film?” or “What is your purpose in telling this particular story? I think it’s important that investors believe in the message and in the director to tell this story through his/her own lens and make it their own vision. The purpose of telling any particular story is to entertain the audience while being thought provoking. I would like people to think about the film even after the ending credits roll and once they leave the screening. What has become my reality while in this process is accepting the person most invested in this film is myself and what I have put into it, both financially and professionally.
3.What kind of world do you want to see now that your films “One Shot and Black and Blue” is made? (For clarification) We know that there is a message you as a filmmaker are conveying to your audience, what is that message?
“One Shot & Black N’ Blue” are two different films but in my landscape of storytelling it’s in the same vein. “One Shot” was a concept I developed while walking into a restaurant and staring at a flashing “OPEN” sign, which I took a picture of. The idea sat with me for months, then it came to me to make a comedy about having that one shot to fulfill your dreams with an “open” mind. I think all people can relate to overcoming fear and seeking what they desire. So with that I created a story about a guy who isn’t that confident in himself, which I, myself, can relate to, and place him in a situation where he may only have this “one shot” to “man up” and ask the “girl of his dreams” out on a date.
“Black N’ Blue” is a story that focuses on the racial injustice in our society which is still relevant today as it was years ago. The disconnect between the police, African Americans, and Hispanics still carry tension from both sides, especially when you turn the television on. Me, being a black male, I know first hand the trauma passed from generation to generation stemming from police brutality and so forth. The only significant difference in this film is that it’s comes from the perspective of a male Caucasian who experiences loss of a his African American male counterpart when he is shot by a white police officer. The message of this film is to keep the message of racial injustice in the forefront and by this, I mean, that racial injustice does exist in present day America. The film also tackles PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which the lead character suffers from, having come back from a tour in Afghanistan. Mental health is also a heavy subject and PTSD is what many of our veterans suffer from. You will definitely need to watch it more than once to see underlying issues our society is faced with. One of the challenges I faced filming is that this was not a screenplay I wrote, which is always a challenge when you want to make sure your vision as well as the writer’s ideas are represented equally. I have to thank my partners B. Todd Johnston & Jim Thalman, the cast and crew for entrusting me to lead them on that journey.
4. As a filmmaker, what are some key lessons learned so far?
People are always asking me to read their scripts and I have learned that it is okay to say “no” to a project. I have learned not to take on a project I do not believe in or see eye to eye with others involved. As an artist we strive for more and so sometimes it leads us to take on projects because this fear of being “idle,” which is difficult for many who are not satisfied unless they are creating. I’m here to tell you, that there is nothing wrong with taking a break or taking the time to build your brand up to launch your next project. What do you know today that you wish you knew when you began your journey as a filmmaker? I wish I knew that not everyone who started with you has the same passion and drive and sometimes that results in parting ways. I have learned that I am capable and able to come up with a vision, put it on paper, get a team together, and execute. I have learned it is important that the team I work with has the same passion and drive, and that they are reliable, loyal, and committed. As long as there is mutual respect, communication, and understanding, there is nothing that I cannot accomplish.
5. What would you say is your unique responsibility as a filmmaker?
My responsibility is to create a story in which the viewer gets a sense of emotion, whether it be happy or sad. For the time you are with me, watching something we created as a team on the screen, tablet, or phone I have a responsibility to you and myself to entertain you. If I fail at that, then I get up and try again. That’s what it’s about not giving up.
How can others reach out to you and/or stay informed about your upcoming projects?
To reach me you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay informed about upcoming projects, you can follow me on IG : jbkfilmstoo_ or sunnysidedownproductions .