Two LMU School of Film and Television alums are nominated for NAACP Image Awards this year. While they didn’t attend the school at the same time, their film work has been a connection.
“Aric graduated before I went to LMU, but we became friends on a student film he was gaffing and I was helping on,” said Kevin Porto Stewart. Aric Avelino graduated in 1999 and Stewart graduated in 2008. They kept in contact and after Stewart’s graduation, Avelino brought him on to shoot a few of his projects.
“We got along well and had similar visual aesthetic, so when Aric was hired to direct ‘Behind the Movement,’ he decided to bring me on board as DP.”
“The Rosa Parks story had been told before, but what made ‘Behind the Movement’ interesting and different is that it focuses on the three days following Parks’ arrest and leading up to the bus boycott. So, it gets past being a biopic.”
The film highlights the organization and dedication of many important figures around Rosa Parks and the impact they all had on such a life-changing moment in history. “It was a real privilege and honor for me to be part of telling such a powerful story,” added Stewart.
“Behind the Movement” was filmed in Atlanta over 12 days in August 2017 and released in February 2018. “We had a pretty small crew and it was a fast turnaround, so there were challenges to overcome, but the message and story we wanted to tell came through it all.”
Word of the award nomination came through last month. Stewart says he is “incredibly proud of the NAACP Image Award nomination, because of how important the awards are and what they stand for.
“It’s a highly respected award for all the right reasons and just to be nominated is an amazing feeling. I hope ‘Behind the Movement’ wins but even if it doesn’t, being a part of this film will be something I never forget.”
Don’t be afraid to mess up
The best advice Kevin Porto Stewart received from LMU’s School of Film and Television was … “Don’t be afraid to mess up. If you are afraid to mess up, you will always be playing it safe and unfortunately that doesn’t make for very interesting storytelling no matter what department you’re in. Take risks and if it doesn’t work out, then at least you know what does and doesn’t work. If you continue doing what you know always works you’ll have a hard time learning.”
In that spirit, Stewart worked on a bare-bones horror movie with three crew and one actor. The other crew members were LMU School of Film and Television alumni Jordan Downey and Ricky Fosheim.
“Our movie ‘The Head Hunter’ is a self-financed, $30,000 budget medieval horror film that we decided to make in Portugal in 2017. As you can imagine, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome in getting this made. I shot, produced and co-wrote the film, Jordan co-wrote and directed and Ricky produced.”
“The Head Hunter” premiered at the Fantastic Festival in Sitges in October 2018, and received great reviews. At other festivals, the movie won Best Overall Feature Film, Best Actor (twice) and Best Cinematography. Vertical Entertainment has picked the movie up for distribution and it will be coming out in theaters and VOD on April 5, 2019.
“I think ours is an inspiring story of self-made success that could encourage other up-and-coming filmmakers.”
Meanwhile, “Behind the Movement,” is nominated for two NAACP Image Awards: Outstanding Television Movie Limited Series or Dramatic Special, and Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (TV). Winners will be announced at the 50th NAACP Image Awards on TV One on March 30.