THE RED CARPET PREMIERE WAS A PHENOMENAL SUCCESS! NOW IT'S TIME TO CREATE THE FEATURE FILM!
Hello Friends, Family and Supporters!
WE. DID. IT. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this amazing journey of creating our short film, Strange Fruit: The Hip-hopera by supporting and cheering us on! From 2020 to now, we have worked together to bring this film to life and have already had two successful shoots, a wedding scene in 2021 and a cotton fields scene in 2022, to create a proof-of-concept for a future feature film. And now we've hosted a Red Carpet Gala!
THE NEXT STEP: Now we are preparing to pitch Strange Fruit to studios, investors, distributors and producing partners to create the ultimate goal... a feature film of Strange Fruit with a worldwide theatrical release. We are looking for the right partners who are aligned with our social and spiritual mission of creating racial reconciliation through cinema. Here's a look at all we have accomplished together!
2023 RED CARPET GALA & STRANGE FRUIT PREMIERE!!
On April 30, 2023, over 150 people of color all dressed to the nines saw the screening of our Strange Fruit "Hear the Cry" musicalized cotton field scene! It was an extraordinary black tie event that also was the official launch of our multicultural studio, House of Deborah Jane Studios, in the heart of Orange County. The event was co-produced by Red Carpet Recio Productions.
THE CONCERT: The glamorous and elegant evening of rap, BTS videos and dance was hosted by talk show host Cyndi Galley, and included a concert illustrating the 20-year journey of the making of Strange Fruit from its beginnings as a nightmare to today. The concert was directed and choreographed by Dyneesha Moore.
THE RACIAL RECONCILIATION PANEL: We also had a distinguished panel including Santa Ana councilmember Johnathan Hernandez, NAACP OC Youth Director Justice Crudup, Minister Les Robinson, "Hear the Cry" Director Marlon Jones, DP Justin Guo, Choreographer Dyneesha Moore, and Spectra CEO (who is historically restoring Harriet Tubman's last stop on the Underground Railroad), Ray Adamyk.
One of the most powerful moments came when Ray knelt and washed the feet of our event producer, Recio Young. He asked forgiveness for the wrongs of his ancestors. This type of humility and repentance is at the heart of the movie. Another highlight was the speech by Deborah Jane's parents, James and Shelley Burke, who immigrated from Guyana to Orange County. Their story of being brave pioneers who believed in the artistic dreams of their children brought many tears to the audience.
THE FRIDA CINEMA: The Red Carpet Gala & Strange Fruit Premiere was held in downtown Santa Ana at OC’s only non–profit community theater, The Frida Cinema. It was sponsored by over 20 companies who were featured on our step-and-repeat. Our dazzling guests took many photos on the red carpet, and the place was gorgeously decorated in apple green by Diamond Seasons. We topped the whole night off with a Rooftop After Party!
THE SPONSORS: A special thank you to investors James & Shelley Burke, The Sound, a Santa Ana foursquare church, Reverand Dr. Donald Lamb's Hallelujah, I Have a Testimony!, Uncle Nearest Whiskey, The Samueli Foundation and the Orange County Community Foundation's African American Alliance Fund, founded by Tammy Tumbling who awarded HODJ a $10K grant.
2022 GEORGIA COTTON FIELDS SHOOT
On Oct 29, 2022 our multicultural film studio, House of Deborah Jane Studios, flew from California to Georgia to film a musicalized cotton fields dance scene "Hear the Cry" as a proof-of-concept. Check out the Georgia BTS! Our cast, crew and intern team of 60 gave their all, honored the ancestors and even wound up on Apple News!
HOUSE OF DEBORAH JANE STUDIOS MISSION
Strange Fruit: The Hip-hopera is a dynamic short film that explores how the past impacts the present today with the goal of igniting racial reconciliation in our country. The mission of the studio is to champion diversity, inclusion and unity. Most importantly, we want to make a social and spiritual impact through bold, cinematic, musical storytelling!
Imagine a powerful Black woman in the 21st century being thrust back into the 1800s as a slave with only one chance to escape back to her reality. This is the story of LASHELLE ROBINSON, a spit-fire Wall Street broker, who travels back in time to rescue her ancestor, INKA, from a terrible lynching – all to lift the curse off her white fiancé, TODD DECATUR. He's the love of her life, but it is his ancestors that killed hers. Precocious teen underground railroad conductor, JUNE, guides LaShelle through time. Strange Fruit is told through rap, song and dance — like Hamilton meets 12 Years A Slave. During the cotton fields scene, LaShelle first arrives in the 1800’s to meet her ancestor. Click below to watch the Wedding Scene shot in 2021.
PARTNER WITH US!
We invite YOU to partner with us to raise the funds for the feature film by the end of the month. Check out our Official House of Deborah Jane Studio Pitch Video! We are extremely excited for you to join us in making a difference in creating groundbreaking cinema.
This film has been 20 years in the making. The feature film is the NEXT STEP towards our ultimate goal of seeing this film on the big screen. We believe Strange Fruit: The Hip-Hopera meets the moment right now and will impact generations to come! THANK YOU FOR BEING PART OF THE DREAM AND FOR HELPING US CREATE SOCIAL CHANGE!
All My Love,
Check out the Strange Fruit Dancer's Journey below!
THE HISTORY OF STRANGE FRUIT
How it All Began… The Stanford Play
Strange Fruit: The Hip-hopera all started with a nightmare. Growing up in an all-white suburb in Orange County, I searched for my roots by reading slave narratives at 12-years old. Night after night, I would have a terrifying dream of waking up in the 1800s… a slave. I took my vision to Stanford University where I wrote and produced Strange Fruit as an award-winning play (2004), and also met my co-producer, India Alston. I transformed the play into a feature film at USC film school where I completed my Masters in screenwriting. After working in Hollywood production at TV networks, I launched my production company: House of Deborah Jane, Inc. to create content that championed powerful diverse women’s voices. Strange Fruit is our most important project and is named after Billie Holiday's iconic song.
The Hollywood Journey... So Far, The Script Has:
- Received great reviews from top industry executives
- Landed as a semi-finalist in the Diverse Voices Screenwriting Contest
- Been read by professional actors at a Table Read
- Garnered interest from A-list celebrity talent
- Deborah Jane has been interviewed by TD Jakes’ team on the BTS Hollywood journey
-Produced a Wedding Scene in California
-Produced a Cotton Fields Scene in Georgia
-Producing Red Carpet Gala & Strange Fruit Premiere at the Frida Cinema