The Houston based film producer talks about producing independent film ‘Soul Damage’
In a field dominated by mostly white filmmakers, directing could seem a little discouraging for a young minority filmmaker. But, with the advancement of Black directors and producers like Ava Duvernay, Tim Story, John Singleton and Ryan Coogler, aspiring filmmakers have a list of people to look up to.
Soon enough the growing young generation of filmmakers will have another person to add to their list.
“I’d like to think that my films change the mindsets of not just African Americans, but other peoples’ perceptions of us and how we do things,” said Houston native and film producer Jeremy Malone.
Jeremy “J.O.” Malone, 26, is a young Houston film producer who started his film-directing career at his undergrad Prairie View A&M University. During his collegiate journey, Malone founded J.O. Malone Studios and started filmmaking on campus when he changed his major to journalism. “I kind of fell into journalism because I love story telling,” said the engaged father of one. “It’s something about being the author of your own narrative.”
From his junior year onward he helped cultivate the university’s student ran radio station, Panther Newspaper and student activities board. He experimented with making short films on campus enough to build his brand and soon help him graduate with his own film business.
“I learned through film that we can be the author of our own stories and take out the negativity that America portrays us in,” he said. “We can’t let people who don’t really care dictate our story lines.”
He opened J.O. Malone Studios venue located in the Heights area near downtown Houston, TX. The venue offers an area for artist to create industry level commercials, films, photography and music videos.
“My main goal is to set a standard of quality as an African American filmmaker out here in Houston. People often overlook areas of the country because it’s not Hollywood or New York. But, talent is everywhere and there are some brilliant filmmakers in areas you wouldn’t normally look,” Malone said.
That’s why he was one of the first people who came to mind when a new indie project came about through his father.
“One of my dad’s friends wanted to make a film but needed a producer. So, my dad referred me and then it went on from there,” he said.
Malone received a call from Maximus Wright, a Jackson, Mississippi first time filmmaker, who was looking for a producer in his new film project “Soul Damage”.
“He contacted me less than a month prior to the shooting date for the movie, so I really had to pull off putting a crew together so that we could get the movie shot,” said Malone. With very little time, Malone gathered all of his production crew from Houston and traveled to Jackson to start the independent film.
“Soul Damage” revolves around the main character “Sirius” who is a young attractive African American male who is conflicted in his relationship with God and distaste for organized religion. Through comedy and a smart way to handle dark issues in the African American community, the movie visits the self-image issues a lot of young African Americans face today. The independent movie features Yohance Myles, Tyler Perry’s “Love Thy Neighbor” star Palmer Williams Jr., and singer/actor Tony Grant.
“I learned a lot through producing this movie. I had to take care of payroll, the production crew and make sure that people were able to support themselves. And I had to do all of this outside of Houston, so it was really a learning experience,” he said. The movie is expected to release in fall of 2016.
Alongside producing the film “Soul Damage”, he is working on three film projects in Houston, and directed and produced the film “H-Town” featuring rapper Mystikal.
“I want a movement to happen here [Houston] because we have so much talent and creative output that we have to create an avenue for African American talent,” said Malone. “I believe through filmmaking out here, we can be able to do that.”
The prospect of Malone’s ambition continues to keep his business thriving and creative workload continuous.
“I believe that I am one of the gatekeepers that we all learned about in college—for African Americans in film. I have to be a role model in that way because I need to be an example for people who want to be positive and have an influence,” he said.
His goal is to create a culture and platform for people to have a voice through their creative sides. His ultimate goal is to change the landscape of modern cinema.
“At the end of the day, I want people to look at me and say ‘I want to be like him. He let God use him and if he can do it—I can do it too,’” said Malone.
To learn more about J.O. Malone check out his website www.jomalonestudios.com and follow him on social media @JOMalonestudios.