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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Armstead

Culture Spotlight Featuring Kent Faulcon

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Kent Faulcon is an actor-writer-director who has been seen in memorable films like “Selma,” “War of the Worlds,” “Men in Black,” and “Die Hard: With A Vengeance.”

On television, Kent played Richard Ellington for six seasons as a series regular on OWN’s “For Better or Worse” as well as in the recurring role of Principal Green on ABC’s hit-series “Blackish.” Along with acting, Kent writes, produces and directs independent projects, notably his award-winning feature film “Sister’s Keeper,” episodes of Amazon web series “Bougie Dilemma,” TV series “Mi Casa, Mi Casa” and his two new writing/directing projects – the single-camera comedy series “Brothers In Law” and the sci-fi mystery film short “Just a Phase.”

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival.

I can sum up my experience with the Hip Hop Film Festival in one word, IMPRESSED! From the first zoom info session that was held for the filmmakers, I knew these folk and these women in charge meant business. The way the festival so masterfully navigated operating in a virtual space, just blew me away, honestly. With so many festivals postponing or trying to go virtual with lackluster results, the Hip Hop Film Festival is not only dealing with a virtual environment but thriving in it. I’ll admit I was skeptical going in, but, like I said, after that first zoom info session with these fabulous sisters, I was immediately put at ease. In fact, I had to sit up and go, “uh-huh, I need to step up my game.” In some ways it reminded me of when I first met my dear friend Ava DuVernay years ago, 2008 or so, when we both had films on the festival circuit. She had her first documentary feature going and I was going around with the first feature film I directed. Even back then Ava had this force-of-nature spirit that you could see great things ahead for her, even if the rest of the world didn’t know it yet. The sisters I’ve encountered running the Hip Hop Film Festival strike me as having that same “can-do”, “don’t ask permission”, “we making this happen” energy and spirit I experienced with Ava. Then, on the flipside I’ve been totally impressed by the films being presented by the festival. To see what other artists are accomplishing is heartening and encouraging. It’s been a wonderful experience despite a trying time in the world. Truly a bright spot in all this darkness.

Why are stories from the culture important?

Listen, hearing our voices expressed and our experiences shared is not only important, it’s crucial. Having the agency to put out stories in our own voices lets our art live in a space of reflection, observation and genuine expression because it comes from within. Rather than that art or story living in a space of projection, manipulation and/or interpretation, because it came from outside with a possible outside agenda. This outside looking in detrimental view is not always the case, for sure, but the risk of that dynamic exists. And for me as a storyteller, my aim or my agenda, so to speak, is to broaden what “from the culture” means and what it looks like. I want to put that brother or sister “from the culture” in stories and on adventures that you might not have ever seen them in before or in a place that before was relegated to exclude them. I believe the story of that journey that brother or sister on is not only worthy, but fresh. A sister trapped in a crashed capsule on the dark side of the moon and she has to figure out a way to save herself is a story worthy of telling and I’d love to see it. Yeah, Sandra Bullock could and most likely play a role like that, but what does that story and/or role look like with Simone Missick playing that character? What sensibilities would her character, who would have had to endure and achieve a great deal to get to that place, what does someone like her bring to that story/scenario? Possibilities like that are what gets me fired up and want to explore and tell stories, however unusual or unlikely, from our perspective and with our sensibilities.

What projects are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on finishing up 6 episodic scripts for a TV series based on our short film “Just A Phase” that’s playing in the Hip Hop Film Festival right now. We have received some production interest in seeing this sci-fi mystery story explored further on the small screen. So I’m steady hammering that out. I’m also beginning to shop a feature script I penned entitled “And There Is Fight…” a true story of my good friend who, right out of law school in 1995, fought and freed a group of Thai garment workers that were being held in slavery in Los Angeles. True story. The script garnered really strong numbers and coverage from The Black List and hopefully we’ll find a home for that project soon. I also have a coming of age sci-fi project “ABNER” that I’m moving from development into pushing toward production. That one is truly a dream. It is the movie I would have LOOOVED to have seen or existed when I was 10 years old. So, between those director/writer/producing projects and the acting projects that come my way, I’m trying to keep it moving and doing my best to stay away from the Covid.

Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important?

I think the Harlem House and the Hip Hop Film Festival are important not only because they offer filmmakers a chance to showcase their work, but they offer opportunities to build friendships, networks, offer education on the game and also provide the artists that sense of community. The House and Festival offer creative support by allowing artists to connect and recharge and inspire each other. I think that’s the most painful part of not being able to be in person this year. Filmmaking is very much a team effort, but often the creative process to get to the filmmaking part can be lonely and draining. The Film House and Festival allows for fellowship, much like church, where folks can gather, revive and gain strength. We got robbed of that in-person aspect of it this year, but like y’all said “We Rock. We don’t stop.” I got nothing but love and respect for the Festival. Shoot, this experience has got me itching to shoot something else in hopes of returning one day soon. Appreciate y’all. Peace!

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