Over the past few years, creatives have made it their mission to chase their dreams while challenging the status quo. The Black Women Black Men Network has been producing diverse digital content to do just that and more. The BWBM Network began telling important and relevant stories reflecting the Black experience in 2018. Lauren E. Ashli successfully brought together a group of creatives who shared the same desire to tell compelling stories of the Black community through film. Lauren and her team are adamant about utilizing their platform for a purpose. We had the pleasure of meeting the team.
Tell us about how BWBM Network got started and the company’s mission.
Most people would identify us as a production company. In reality we’re simply a collective of hardworking indie filmmakers who share the same goal. BWBM aims to do more than just produce films. There is a purpose behind the content we create. We work to have the voices that are normally suppressed be heard in a creative, transparent, human, and honest way. This network was created as an outlet for those who believe it’s their purpose to leave their legacy through film. BWBM is for our people and the content is created by our people.
How does having a female leader impact the dynamic of the company?
Having a woman not only lead this company, but start it, is empowering. Seeing a woman have the courage and vision to spearhead a company of this nature only demonstrates there is nothing women can’t do. Lauren is a breath of fresh air because she never lets the word “no” impact her projects. She finds a way, and that amount of tenacity will forever be something to admire.
You all recently premiered your first short film, WATERCOLOR. Tell us about the production experience and what inspired the film’s compelling story.
WATERCOLOR is pretty special to us because it is our very first short film. At the beginning of 2019, the writers began brainstorming ideas of different stories they wanted to tell, while beginning to search for a production team of talented people who would treat BWBM as their own.
Once October hit, we were working nonstop to get this production rolling. Within three-four weeks, we had our writers room, held auditions, selected the cast, hosted a table read, went through about 3 rehearsals, scouted the set, broke down the script, identified prop, costume, hair & make up needs, hired crew/tech members, and shot our film which took two days.
This story was inspired by the desire to give our audience a glimpse into one day of a young creative. WATERCOLOR dives into the complexity of a young male who has aspirations of becoming an artist, but feels crippled by the pressure of his father who claims being a real man and an artist cannot co-exist. Throughout the film we also explore the layers of generational trauma. We see how experiences that happened years ago can still affect our descendants and future children.
The iconic IGTV segment “We Need to Talk” is now on its second season. How has the series impacted your company’s success and how do you see it progressing in the future?
Photo Credit: BWBM Network
“We Need To Talk” was our very first piece of content released to our audience. We had the desire to just do something that would get our peers talking about important topics such as relationships, race, politics, and current events. The idea of producing a show that could be released every week ended up being the result of our eagerness and fascination with creating a space to have these types of discussions.
“We Need To Talk” made people notice us. It was their first glimpse at our brand and our first product as producers. Without it, there probably wouldn’t be a WATERCOLOR or a BWBM. In the future we see “We Need to Talk” with a larger, more official set. We would love to see the show being run with a consistent crew staffed by BWBM for each season. Hopefully, we can gain some incredible sponsors to help bring attraction towards the show and BWBM as a whole. As our company grows, “We Need to Talk” will grow as well.
Where do you all see BWBM Network in the next 5 years?
We see BWBM being an incredible business. When Lauren designed the structure of BWBM, she described it being run as a streaming platform. People would subscribe to the network to watch and enjoy our content. We would love to be functioning as a real streaming platform in some capacity. We also see a team of incredibly talented creatives in fields, from writing to business, contributing to the success of the company. Creatively, we’d like to have multiple shows, and definitely a few films out being streamed by our audience.
The Black Woman Black Man Network has accomplished great things this year and has big plans for 2020. With “We Need to Talk” coming back for another season, a predominantly female-led film in the works along and a unique web-series in the discussion, BWBM has much more in store for its audience. Keep up with this team of purpose-driven creatives by following @bwbmnetwork on Instagram and be on the lookout for more content.