A Central State University grad and Dayton native will have his first written and directed film air on Fox Soul streaming network.
Jamaal Scott’s powerful short film, that he also acts in, titled “KINGS” was released in 2018 and made its rounds in the festival circuit. It was recently chosen from the more than 400 submitted films to air Thursday March 11, at 10 p.m. on Fox Soul’s Screening Room. The film is available to watch in the Live screen on foxsoul.tv, and is also available on YouTube.
KINGS is a short film that follows rookie African American police officer Brandon Billips on his first night after being sworn into the Oakland Police Department. It follows the difficult choices he’s faced with when his veteran partner starts to abuse the power of his badge, putting his life, and the lives of others, in danger, according to the Fox Soul website.
Scott was born in Dayton, and moved to Atlanta, then California, as a child. He returned to Dayton, where his mother Lisa Scott still lives, for his undergraduate studies at CSU. He first studied communications, although acting was his longtime passion and plan for the future.
When Scott and a group of his friends at CSU decided to work on a web series about life on an HBCU campus, Scott picked up a camera. This was the start of Scott’s journey to becoming both an actor and a filmmaker.
After graduating from CSU in 2014, Scott began studying directing at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Scott credits a 21-minute documentary he made senior year about life at CSU for getting him into the prestigious art school. However, upon arriving at AAU, Scott said he experienced a degree of culture shock coming from an HBCU.
“I wanted to go there and find a screenwriter who was Black and had these shared experiences,” Scott said. “Because I had all these ideas but I didn’t know anything about writing. … But I didn’t find anybody there who looked like me and who shared my same experiences that could help me write my ideas.”
It was Scott’s mother, back in Dayton, Ohio, who encouraged him to stick to his path and push onward.
“I was going to transfer to a different school, and I called my mother and talk to her. She was like, ‘No, stay there. You’re there for a reason, for a purpose. Figure it out. If you can’t find a writer, write your own stories. Stop telling yourself you’re not a writer and write your own stuff.’”
Work on KINGS began soon after Scott began grad school in fall of 2014, while Scott was starting to make short films for classes. However, because he was new to directing, Scott felt immense pressure surrounding his first production, as his peers had been in the business for years and already had established portfolios.
After finally finding the right team, some of whom he met through school and others he met while in California to build his professional network, Scott said he knew he’d be working on KINGS until he felt it was as professional-looking as could be.
“Tamir Rice had just gotten killed,” Scott said, and it was a lot of different stories and just short films coming out about that same narrative — a white top versus the black kid. …. Same story, same narrative. So I wanted to tell something that I felt that I was related to me and that was relevant at the time, but in a different way.”
KINGS went on to screen at festivals in Atlanta, where Scott now resides, and festivals in Ghana, Africa, the UK and others in the US.
Scott currently shoots and edits for a production company, and he’ll soon be working with Aspire TV to direct a short film for the network.
KINGS will be available on YouTube after tonight’s screening on Fox Soul.
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