by People’s Minister of Information JR
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your project, Oaktowne?
Lela: Oaktowne is a television show based on three neighborhood friends, Derrica, Cheyanne and Monet, who live in Oakland, California. The show is centered around their lives and the trials and tribulations they endure while living in the Bay Area.
M.O.I. JR: How did you come up with the concept?
Lela: Oakland is my hometown and there are so many flavors to the city. I was sick and tired of the media just capturing one part of Oakland and I wanted to bring awareness that Oakland is not just a city full of crime.
Oakland has a lot of great history and there are still many people in our community doing things to better the city. So what better way to bring awareness to my hometown than by creating a show based on some of the facets of the Town and how they continue to impact my life.
M.O.I. JR: How long did it take for you to cast, produce and shoot Oaktowne?
Lela: Eight months from casting to the finished product.
M.O.I. JR: Was this your first major project and what was the process like?
Lela: Yes, it was the first project that me and my business partner, Mishalene Bloom, produced for our production company HomeGirlVision. We also hired the cinematography crew Preme Photography to film our entire project. It was definitely a learning experience.
M.O.I. JR: You were recently picked to be in the 2012 Oakland International Film Festival. How did it feel to have your work acknowledged on that level?
Lela: It’s a very humbling experience to have our first film showcased in my hometown.
M.O.I. JR: When will Oaktowne be screened at the OIFF?
Lela: April 7, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum.
M.O.I. JR: What are some of your aspirations as a producer and writer?
Lela: To produce, create and write projects that will stir up and provoke thought and that will ultimately entertain.
M.O.I. JR: What do you hope to do in the film world in the next five years?
Lela: My goal in the next five years is to continue the Oaktowne Movement and to have our first season picked up by a major distribution production company and to continue to create and write new projects.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you become a filmmaker?
Lela: From a young child I always loved to read and write. I also have a passion for telling stories, and it’s proven to be one of my greatest qualities. So what better way than to express my God given gift than through filmmaking.
M.O.I. JR: Was it hard for you to put your dream of making a television show into reality?
Lela: It was process. I was always conscious of my passion to create Oaktowne, but I had to enter the season where I had the time to develop the finished product.
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you?
The People’s Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe,” both available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He also hosts two weekly shows on KPFA 94.1 FM and kpfa.org: The Morning Mix every Wednesday, 8-9 a.m., and The Block Report every Friday night-Saturday morning, midnight-2 a.m. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.