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BFM: Any final thoughts, any invitation to the world of filmmakers? What part does New Millennium Studios play in this future of returning to the basics and good old-fashioned storytelling and independent thought? What role can New Millennium play to facilitate that?

TR: I think the part we hope New Millennium Studios will play in the future of independent filmmaking…can be paralleled to slavery and freedom: the quest for freedom when people who had no idea where Canada was on the map, had never even heard of Canada, followed a thing called the North Star and traveled hundreds of miles. Some traveled over a thousand miles to freedom because in their heart, they had this incredible passion to be free, to operate without the confinement of slavery and mental slavery and being told when and where and what to do. Now, you say, "What has that got to do with movie-making?" Well, in a sense, when you get caught in the structure of something and feel that you can’t do something because it will not fit in with the going-way that films are made (they have to be big-budget, they have to have this, they have to that), you’re getting yourself into mental slavery. You’re being forced to create within a box, within a cage, within all these mental things, these chains that people put on you. And anybody who steps outside of that box and aims for that North Star becomes a runaway, becomes a radical, just by mere fact that you are going upstream. If we inspire a young person or an old person for that matter who says "Tim took this shot. If he can do it, I can do it." then maybe they may get further than I got. But the fact that people are still inspired, the fact that I, at this stage in my life, was inspired by Oscar Micheaux who died in 1952. Almost fifty years, forty-some years later, I’m inspired by reading his life story, and I’m going, "Oscar Micheaux could do it!" Well, maybe fifty years from now, somebody will be caught in this thing, and they’ll read the story of what we’ve done and say, "If Tim Reid could do it, I can." And that’s how independent filmmaking stays independent. There’s always somebody, sitting somewhere in a little garage looking at something going, "Well, wait a minute. I don’t want to do it that way!" And that person will utilize his passion and his creativity and make a way to get through the maze, and it will appear and be accepted. Then, we’ve served our purpose.

BFM: So, in closing, do you have any challenge or invitation to your fellow filmmakers?

TR: Well, I mean, I’d like to be able to say to all the independent, particularly black filmmakers, to find their way to New Millennium Studios and to try to help us build something. But I know they’re all afraid. And I know they’re afraid because the dominant culture of entertainment has made them believe that if they come to a place like this, that they will be outcast, or they’ll be so far from entertainment. And they forget that a group of Jewish guys were run out of New York because they couldn’t fit the New York model for moviemaking and plays. They were forced to leave, and they went all the way across America to a little place called California and a little town that was nothing more than an outpost for oil rigs. And they created a thing called Hollywood. Bunch of guys who had never done it before. And they created an industry there that today everybody’s telling you can’t be done anywhere else. Obviously they’re not reading their own history because it can be done somewhere else. People have to do it.

 

So maybe if enough people come to little Petersburg, we can create an industry that fifty years, a hundred years from now, will be all fat and rich and arrogant, and we’ll be telling people, "If you can’t do it in Petersburg, it can’t be done! I heard about a guy named Tim Reid, and now I’m going somewhere else!" And they’ll go to who knows where. Somewhere down in Brown, Texas and build an industry, and who knows?

BFM: Well, it sounds like to moral of your story has something to do with history.

TR: Yeah. History repeats itself.

BFM: You said something earlier this afternoon that it doesn’t necessarily have to.

TR: No. History doesn’t have to repeat itself. That’s the wonderful part. I don’t want to get religious, but it does get down to what people deem religion, and that is the human brain, the human spirit is the only thing in the universe that has a choice.

BFM: Free will?

TR: Free will. Humans have the will to create any kind of environment they choose to create, and all it takes is the will to do it. We’re the only things that can do that. So, just because history points to a circle of events, you can choose not to be a part of that. You can say, "I’m going to alter that." How many times have we seen people go back in time machines, and they tell you, "What ever you do don’t touch anything because it will alter history!" And they’re right. You touch anything, it alters history. Well, we can alter history just by touching our own spirit and saying, "I’m going to do what’s right for me, what’s in my character, what I feel passion about." And if you do that, you change history, or you become history. If you don’t, you get caught up in history, and you keep repeating the same thing over and over again, and you’re a part of the same thing over and over. You’re like all these people following the same thing. You vote the way the masses vote. You dress the way the masses dress. You buy the latest Pokemon card. The next Christmas thing that comes out, you stand in line and fight and kill each other, so you can spend your money, take your kid this toy that he probably won’t remember twenty minutes later anyway because you’re a mass thinker. You’ve given up your free will. And that to me is the only thing left to really hold onto…your free will. You can call it religion or whatever, but we’re the only ones that got it. So use it. ‘Cause when it’s gone, you don’t get it back.

Martin Jones is an independent producer and Tim Reid’s partner at New Millennium Studios. His feature credits include Asunder and Nothin’ 2 Lose.

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2001 Tim Reid Productions, Inc