Did you know that the most prolific Black – if not most prolific independent – filmmaker in American cinema, Oscar Micheaux wrote, produced and directed 44 feature-length films between 1919 and 1948.
Micheaux, born on January 2, 1884 in Metropolis, Illinois, the fifth child in a family of thirteen, worked as a shoeshine boy, farm laborer and Pullman porter. In his early twenties, he was self-confident to the point that he invested his savings in farmland in an all-White community in faraway South Dakota.
Within nine years, Micheaux had expanded his holdings to 500 acres while writing, publishing and distributing his first semi-autobiographical novel, The Conquest (1913). He popularized the book by selling it door-to-door to the farmers of South Dakota.
In 1918, the Lincoln Film Company in Nebraska offered to film Micheaux's 1917 novel, The Homesteader. But when Lincoln refused to produce the film on the scale that he desired, Micheaux responded by founding his own production company and shooting the work himself. He started the Micheaux Book and Film Company, raising money by, again, selling shares door to door in South Dakota. Micheaux found the equipment and actors he needed in Chicago, bought a car, hired a White chauffeur and drove all of the members of his production company and equipment from Chicago to Winner, South Dakota.
"The Homesteader" was the first full-length feature film directed, written and produced by an African-American. It secured Micheaux's name in history books, and was declared a success when it grossed over $5,000.
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By comparison, I broke the house record when I debuted my first feature-length movie, “The White Girl,” at The Liberty Theatre in Bermuda with no advertising campaign and beat Hollywood hits with word-of-mouth alone. As a result of the unusually strong attendance by families and the religious community, as well as traditional moviegoers, not only was the film a box-office hit for The Liberty Theatre in Bermuda during a trial run (May 1989), but its sales broke the house record of such blockbuster films as “Fatal Attraction,” “The Color Purple,” “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Rambo III” and “Crocodile Dundee II” at that theater.
For information on purchasing DVD or streamed copies of “The White Girl” or on how to become a self-empowerment distributor of “The White Girl” feature movie and make extra income, visit www.TonyBrownsJournal.com/selfempowerment.
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