Friday, November 15, 2019
African American Indie Films At CAAM
By Brian W. Carter (Staff Writer)
Published November 15, 2013

(Left-to-Right) Actors Darien Sills-Evans and Dorrian Missick attended CAAM screening of independent film, Big Words.

photo by Brian W. Carter

(Left-To-Right) Actress and model, Yaya Alafia and Missick, dance around the perimeters of love while searching for their futures in Big Words.  

Writer, director and producer, Neil Drumming

Films at CAAM are showcasing African American independent films like Big Words for free.

There is so much going on at the California African American Museum (CAAM) from art, to events and just about everything in between. CAAM has welcomed back its 4th year of Films At CAAM Festival showcasing some of the most unique and authentic films by some of the best and talented African American independent filmmakers around. Big Words is one of those films recently screened at CAAM, which is about a former hip hop group and their current situations, which finds each of them at a different precipice in their lives during an historic event.

“We’re going into our 5th year in 2014 [with Films at CAAM], [it] started in 2009,” said Elise Woodson, Education Curator at CAAM. “As education curator, I’m in charge of public programming and it was just a no-brainer for me.

“We’ve always had film connected to our exhibits but we never had a regular film series with three dramatically linked films shown on a regular basis.” CAAM has screened 26 short films so far this year and is really drawing attention to up-and-coming young Black filmmakers.

In Big Words, John (Dorrian Missick), Malik (Darien Sills-Evans) and James (Gbenga Akinnagbe) are three young Black men, each one trying to navigate their own lives, which isolates them from the historic nomination of Barack Obama as president. The film follows each member of the defunct hip hop group as life and circumstances slowly bring them face-to-face to confront their past, present and future.

“I’d say the riding theme behind this movie, from my perspective, was regret and redemption,” said Sills-Evans. “I mean, all the characters are dealing with things in their past that they have to get right at some point.”

Neil Drumming, a USC film grad, who wrote and directed Big Words, pursued a career in journalism. He eventually found his passion for film reignited and would complete a draft for Big Words in 2009. In the film, Drumming touches on multiple subjects such as the hip hop industry, homosexuality and the age-old search for the meaning in life. Missick and Sills-Evans spoke at the recent CAAM screening of Big Words and shared a little about the movie, and the importance of supporting Black indie films.

“The industry is about dreams, it’s about money so the more we support it means the more we’re paying to see ourselves and see our stories being told,” said Missick. “The people, the powers that be, that produce these films, have more incentive to do so.

“Studios are making movies like Baggage Claim and… [Best Man Holiday], it’s strictly because they want to cash in on the money that Tyler Perry is leaving on the table. I think it’s important to see and to recognize our economic power—and to empower ourselves by telling our own stories.”

 “It’s very important,” said Sills-Evans about supporting Black indie films. “I mean, if we don’t come out, no one else is going to really come out and see it.

“The unfortunate thing about stories like this is no one else is really going to make these movies. They have to be made independently and they have to be seen through these grass roots efforts—it’s really on us for success or failure of these pictures in the Black community.”

“It’s very important,” echoed Woodson about supporting Black Indie films. “You know, we criticize about what we don’t like but the big thing is there is plenty of quality Black film out there. I discovered that by doing my short film showcase. It’s just that they don’t have the avenues to get it out there.

“Anything we can do here to help give them a platform, it’s important for us to do that but it’s also important for us to support it.”


CAAM will be showing another short film, Better Mus’ Come, Thursday, November 14 and Middle of Nowhere on November 20. Both films begin at 7:00pm and are free. RSVP is preferred for all films. For more information, please call (213) 744-2024. For all events, sites and attractions at CAAM, please visit You can like them on Facebook.

Categories: Crenshaw & Around

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