Harlem Film House
Culture Spotlight Featuring Frederic M Culpepper
I am Frederic M Culpepper, a filmmaker based in Ann Arbor Michigan. I got started in filmmaking by shooting and producing the first video yearbook at my high school in 1988. As a freelance graphic designer, I regularly seek out creative methods in applying the use of the visual arts in storytelling for my clients. But I have a passion for doing so through the lens of a video camera.
Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival.
I was beyond excited when we received our acceptance letter for the 2022 Hip Hop Film Festival NYC. Being that it was my first time traveling to New York I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC to be well executed, and the team was quick to address any issue I may have had in preparing for my screening. It was great to meet and talk to other filmmakers of color.
Why are stories from the culture important?
My goal as a documentary filmmaker is to change the narrative that permeates mainstream media about our community. There are many stories of people in our community making great strides and achievements that never get the media attention they deserve. It's important that these stories of accomplishment are captured and shared in hopes that it may inspire others.
What projects are you working on now?
I am shooting a second volume of the “Formula734” story that includes some new participants, as well as some of the young men from the first film that decided to return as mentors. I’m also in the early stages of two documentary shorts and another feature documentary. The Hip Hop Film Festival NYC has inspired me to also try to produce a scripted film.
Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important?
For me, the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival serves two important roles in the industry. The event provides an opportunity for filmmakers to get their films viewed by an audience in a proper theater venue. At these screenings, I watch to see how the audience reacts to the subjects in my film. I watch to see if they laugh where I want them to laugh, cheer where I want them to cheer, or care where I want them to care. It helps me understand if my method of storytelling is compelling enough for the audience to connect with and care about the subjects in my films. Second, it creates an outlet for our community to share our stories and our cultures with each other.