We had the good fortune of connecting with Joy Shannon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joy, every day, we talk about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Instead of doing a narrative film, like my last one, my current film is a documentary about COVID-19 and Black LA, titled “After The LockDown: Black In LA”. The film is being directed by three LA directors: honorary Oscar winner Charles Burnett, his son Jonathan – a recent film school graduate from LMU, and myself. Jonathan is also my nephew. We’ve done some incredible Zoom interviews with Blacks in all walks of life who reside in LA. Once the restrictions are lifted, we will do a few interviews on location with a camera. The idea to make the film comes from the current times…from the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the virus aggressively impacted the US, I knew there would be suffering and, unfortunately, death, and I knew I had to make a film. But I also wanted to make a statement about the economic death of many of those who are a part of Black LA. A lot of our businesses were standing on one leg to begin with, so when I heard the Citywide lock down being issued, my heart dropped. I wondered, how would they survive 30 or more days with just a few customers or no customers at all? It was a disaster within a disaster. That was my motivation: tell the stories of Black LA and visually capture them as we are living during the stay-at-home order – that meant using Zoom. From there, I reached out to my family to participate. I asked Charles to direct one segment, Jonathan to direct another, and I’d direct a third segment. This was key, because we all have different perspectives: Charles is an established filmmaker, Jonathan is a millennial, and I’m female. The guys agreed and we took off! The reception has been amazing. We hope to be finished by the end of 2020.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The most exciting thing in making this documentary is to hear the experiences and the profound political ideologies of Black LA. I’m learning and relearning LA in many new ways, all centering around surviving this pandemic. Many of our interviewees tell us stories of their life in LA before COVID-19. They reminisce on what Black LA was like when they were younger. For those who were not born in LA, they share why they moved here and they are proud of their successes. Then COVID-19 hit, and hit hard. The participants open up on their financial fears and their strategies on keeping their businesses afloat. Nearly all of them passionately explain the racial disparities that pre-existed, making it easy for the virus to wipe so many out: physically and economically. Even though the title of our documentary is “After The LockDown: Black In LA”, the problems of extreme inequality existed long before the lockdown and those we’ve interviewed so far eagerly point those out. It’s not just a film on the impact of this pandemic, it’s an oral history of strong Black LA entrepreneurs, professionals, politicians, activists, working class people, and those unemployed — people that won’t go down without a fight!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate our documentary to those who have died from COVID-19. Especially to Black people, who have died disproportionately to others.
Instagram: Afterthelockdownfilm (or) https://www.instagram.com/afterthelockdownfilm/
Twitter: @filmmakerjoy (URL: www.twitter.com/filmmakerjoy)
Other: Our email address is: email@example.com
Photos by Joy Shannon and Jonathan Burnett