Dear Beloved Community,
On the behalf of the DELUGE team, I would like to thank you for your contributions, support, and encouragement during our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. We’ve raised an astounding $8,916 from the strength of your contributions. Though we were not able to reach our $25,000 campaign goal, we will be moving forward with the production. To be an independent filmmaker is to be able to adapt to new and changing situations. I am grateful for this experience as it both tests and challenges us to forge ahead with adjustments, without compromising depth, story, or character.
When I was 13 years old, my 8th grade English teacher Ms. Selig gave out end-of-year awards where she predicted each student’s future career. On my award, she predicted I would be a “Screenwriter.” At that time, I didn’t have the capacity to envision myself a filmmaker. For myself and other youth of color, this prediction was beyond comprehension. Now, 13 years and many scripts later, I am living out that prediction. My teacher saw something in me that I’ve now come to embrace and claim as my own; this thing called cinema. She predicted more than a career. She predicted a calling. My calling.
I would like you to know that in your support of this campaign, you’ve contributed to more than a graduate thesis film, but to the continuation of a growing passion, a steadfast dedication to artistic growth, and a commitment to rendering evocative, distinct stories and images on screen. There is nothing more beautiful.
As we progress toward production and completion of the film, you will remain a part of our journey. For contributors, we hope you enjoy the campaign rewards that you will be receiving soon. Though our Indiegogo campaign has ended, we will continue to accept donations to the film, up until production and throughout post-production. We will be setting up an online donation page very soon. Additional information is forthcoming. If you are interested in contributing in this way, please let me know.
Once again, thank you for your support during this campaign. This film couldn’t come to life without you. I am filled with goodness and gratitude.
Nijla Baseema Mu’min
Deluge is a short film that explores African American’s relationships to water, informed by such traumas as The Middle Passage, the BP Oil spill, and Hurricane Katrina, through the lens of main character Tiana, and her introduction to an aquatic underworld.
After witnessing the mass drowning of her friends and struggling with the decision not to jump in, 14-year old Tiana must decide if she will join the order of black mermaids that protect the oil-drenched waters of Lake Pontchartrain where her friends rest. This film is inspired by the 2010 mass drowning of six black teens in a Shreveport, Louisiana sinkhole. None of them could swim. The film blends coming of age drama, magical realism, and psychological suspense to explore traumatic memory in a post- BP oil spill New Orleans.
What inspired Deluge:
I couple these real world origins with a poem I wrote about black mermaids born from the souls of Africans who jumped, or were thrown overboard slave ships during the Middle Passage. The mermaids have guarded the waters since then, protecting the bones and souls of the ancestors, while also welcoming new souls who perished during Hurricane Katrina, which left a disproportionate amount of African American people without shelter, safety, or support. The mermaids, now endangered due to the BP Oil Spill, protect the drowned teens but also come to the surface and seek out Tiana to join them. They know she is a conflicted soul.
Yoruba mythology from Nigeria, centering on the Orishas Yemeya and Oya, also inform the thematic and visual conception of the mermaids as guardians of the water and of children.
Tiana’s complex reaction and relationship to water serves as an entry point to larger, societal questions:
- Why, in the wake of such tragedies as Hurricane Katrina and BP Oil Spill, which has magnified issues of environmental racism in low-income communities, do these teens want to be next to water?
- What are the associations between these dangers and their desire to explore each other’s sensuality?
- What does it mean to lack a relationship with water when one lives on a land mass that is inextricably linked to water, such as New Orleans, not to know how to swim or be encouraged to learn, not to be able to “get your hair wet,” or to live in an area where water or air contain toxins, as many people experience.
- How has history, racism, and segregation in America informed these cultural relationships to water?
It is my hope that Deluge helps ignite community, academic, and personal dialogues about these issues, as well as encourage people to examine their own relationships with water, which may or may not be affected by the above factors.
Why we need your help:
In order to make a film of this scale and vision, we’re asking for your support. This is an independent, graduate thesis film with no large financial backing. Your support will ensure that the film gets made. We will be shooting in early September 2012, pending we secure the funds to do so. Your contributions will assist with several essential components of our production including:
Equipment Rental - Deluge will be shot on-location in and around New Orleans, Louisiana. This means we will have to rent equipment for the shoot, including lights, grip equipment, camera housing for under-water shooting, a dolly, and an equipment truck, amongst other things.
Airfare for myself and other non- New Orleans crew to get to our locations through the summer and for the shoot. The producers, director, and DP will make 2-3 trips through the summer to secure locations, cast actors, and conduct on-location rehearsals. We are shooting in New Orleans not only because the actual event happened in Louisiana, but also because of the location's spacial relationship to water and the gulf, the importance of that relationship to the black mermaid ethos, as well as the presence of historical and present events that inform this story.
Hired safety personnel, including a paramedic and emergency diver for the water scenes. We will be shooting in designated safe natural bodies of water in and around the New Orleans area. All safety precautions will be observed. Hiring of these personnel is essential to the successful functioning of the shoot.
Hiring of a specialized costume designer, make-up artist, and Production designer. We are creating a distinct world with Deluge, complete with emotional depth and magic. In order to capture the black mermaid aesthetic and create subtle associations between sensuality, water and environmental toxins, we must work with people who can evoke these textured relationships, visually and craft-wise.
In appreciation for your gracious contributions, we've assembled an awesome assortment of campaign perks. We've been working with visual artist/writer Kenyatta AC Hinkle to help bring our black mermaids to life. Her illustration of one of our black mermaid characters, Merma, adorns the film poster that many contributors will recieve. Take a look at our perks on the side of this page. That black mermaid poster would look so beautiful on your wall. You know it!
While we’re still in the process of hiring our New Orleans-based crew and cast, we’ve assembled a dedicated group of people thus far:
Writer/Director/Co-Producer: Nijla Baseema Mu'min
Nijla Mu'min is a writer and filmmaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a 2007 graduate of UC Berkeley, and also attended Howard University's MFA Film Program, where she was the recipient of the 2009 Paul Robeson Award for Best Feature Screenplay. Her films are often concerned with subverting ideas of the “politicized” body. Within that scope, she explores familial relationships, silence, sexuality, and duality in black women.
She has written and directed numerous film and video projects. Her short film Two Bodies has screened at festivals across the country, including the 20th Annual Pan African Film Festival, the Fusion: LA LGBT People of Color Film Festival, presented by Outfest, and the forthcoming festivals: NewFest, Outfest, and The International Black Women's Film Festival. Her film reviews and interviews appear on "Shadow and Act," "Indiewire," and "Bitch" Magazine. Her writing has most recently appeared in The New York Times-featured book, Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.
She is currently an MFA student in Film Directing and Writing at the California Institute of the Arts.
Jevonne Bowman is a freelance filmmaker and Producer based in Brooklyn, NY. A graduate of Howard University's Film Program, she's a Jane-of-all-trades and has contributed to several productions from NYC to DC. Her latest work was for the popular TV show Storm Chasers and a soon to be released show for Travel Channel. She loves to travel and learn new skills.
Faculty Advisor: Charles Burnett
Charles Burnett is a legendary filmmaker best known for his films, KILLER OF SHEEP, TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, THE GLASS SHIELD, and NIGHTJOHN. A graduate of UCLA's School of Theater, Film, & Television, he helped cultivate the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers, or LA Rebellion, in the late 1970's with filmmakers Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, among many others. He currently teaches in the Calarts Film Directing Program.
Director of Photography: SORAYA SÉLÈNE
Soraya is an MFA graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television in Directing and Cinematography. Originally from the Lower East Side of New York City, she developed an early love of photography, which led to a passion for telling stories through the power of motion pictures. Since moving to Los Angeles, Soraya has shot over a dozen projects as a cinematographer.
Soraya is the recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Award, Motion Picture Association of America Award, Mary Pickford Award for excellence in documentary filmmaking, Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production Fellowship, and Herman Kass Prize in Motion Picture Production. Her short film “Counting Backwards,” won the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Special Jury Award and the Kodak Scholarship Program Honorable Mention Award.
Conceptual Artist: Kenyatta AC Hinkle
Interdisciplinary visual artist and writer, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, was born in the West
End of Louisville, KY and is a descendant of Kentifrica. She received her B.F.A from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Painting and MFA in Art & Critical Studies Creative Writing from CalArts. Hinkle has exhibited work at American University in Washington D.C., Hillyer Artspace in Washington D.C., Suffolk County College in New York, Gallerie Mrytis in Baltimore, MD. Hinkle will be performing in the Made in LA Biennial 2012 presented by the Hammer Museum and LAXART.
Deluge is my graduate thesis film at Calarts.
Upon completion in spring 2013, the film will be submitted to domestic and international film festivals. We will also be hosting a series of college and community dialogues around issues of environmental justice, using the film as a catalyst to initiate those conversations that will hopefully lead to action in our communities.
Other Ways You Can Help:
Please spread the word about this campaign to family, friends, and community! You can do this by clicking the Indiegogo share tools at the bottom of our video. Tweet and share the project on facebook, or pass on our information in conversation. This film is a community effort and we appreciate your support.
Follow the writer/director on Twitter @Nijla1 to recieve regular updates on the project.
Visit our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheFilm and LIKE us!
Special Thanks to amazing filmmaker Alan Algee for helping to create our pitch video!
Help us bring DELUGE to life!
The DELUGE team