The entertainment business is hard. It is hard to get into and difficult to stay in, which is why those that are in must stay persistent and consistent. With those two things it will help you to succeed in the industry and award winning film producer, Julius B. Kelly is the living testament to that.
Mr. Kelly is the founder of Sunnyside Down Productions. His production company is independently owned and self-funded. To this day, the company has never had a co-signer. Mr. Kelly just believes in hustle and hard work.
I recently interviewed the producer where he chatted on his inspirations in getting into film. Check out the interview below:
Evan Wheeler (Huey X): Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself and your company?
Julius B. Kelly:My name is Julius B. Kelly. I’m an award winning filmmaker and father based in New Jersey. Sunnyside Down Productions is an independent production company which I serve as a co-founder and C.E.O/Director.
Huey X: Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations? How did these inspirations impact your life?
Julius:My inspirations consist of my family, my daughter and my friends that continue to strive for more. It’s many filmmakers/artists that inspire me from film, music and painting, to name a few. Four of the most influential people that impact me I have to be honest is my mother, father, sister and my little girl.
Huey X: At what age did you know that your passion was film?
Julius:The age I knew my passion was film, I had to be probably in my 20’s in college. The hunger I had for creating a film would just satisfy my appetite for artistry. I tried to be a rapper and failed miserably at it or I gave up because I was doubting myself. When I’m creating a film the doubt comes and go, but I’ve always been able to continue.
Huey X: How did you break into the film industry and what was your first job?
Julius:I broke into the film industry by interning for a production company called, “Mojo Creative Group TV“, based in Jersey City, NJ. I was a gofer, made phone calls and just watched how the business was ran. It also showed me what to do and what not to do in the industry.
One of my first jobs on set was “the boom guy”. I remember the director stating that they couldn’t hear anything from the actors. It was because I had the boom pointing at the ceiling. From there, I proceeded to create a production company with a group of friends called 3HW (Three The Hard Way) Productions that failed as well. After that I co-founded Sunnyside Down Productions with two other friends and that still maintains as the home base. It’s me and my friend Christina at this time. We have a relationship of she knows what I like without even asking. We have been able to create some dope shorts and I’m happy with that.
Huey X: In the film industry past and present who are your favorite film makers of all time?
Julius:That’s a question that I can answer for days. I can give you my top five. 1. Martin Scorsese 2. Spike Lee 3. Steven Spielberg 4. Sergio Leone 5. John McTernian (Honorable Mention : Ryan Coogler)
Huey X: Where did you find the influence and passion to be a co-founder of Sunnyside Down Productions?
Julius:The influence came from wanting to show the world what we could create on an independent level with no financial backing. We never had a co-signer nor then or now. I just continue to push the brand on a stepping stone to other opportunities and actions of creating. The company was a name that our co-founder came up with as a joke. I just thought it was different and decided to stick with it. The influence continues through what I see and hear.
Huey X: Can you tell myself and the readers about your latest project and smash hit, Black N Blue?
Julius:Black N’ Blue is a racial injustice piece that focuses on a young Black male that is racially profiled. The POV is told from his friend who is Caucasian and suffers from PTSD, as he is a veteran as well. We have not seen a spin on this subject from that standpoint. I have to thank the writer and lead actor B. Todd Johnston for writing a script that was strong in spirit and mind.
Huey X: What does it mean for yourself and the company to receive such a prestigious award such as Best Message Film from the Hell’s Kitchen NYC Festival?
Julius:It’s a honor to win such an award as the message is powerful and continues to this very day. As I write this, another Black/Brown male has been killed by the police due to circumstances of race and poor police training. The whole point of the film was not for an award, but to keep the message alive of what is happening in the world.
Huey X: Do you hope and believe your film will push the conversation forward and make a difference? And how?
Julius: I believe our film will continue to keep the message relevant of racial injustice. We are currently in discussions of screening the film as part of town hall meetings within the community and the police force. We have to voice our stance on what is going on in the world. That means artists have the power to create subject matters that can influence a generation of filmmakers.
I believe we have and are already leaving our mark with this film. We have traveled from state to state and the conversations always revolve around police brutality and PTSD that our veterans are going through. So, I believe we our pushing the envelope as planned from the first day I sat down with the writer and producers.
Huey X: Any words of wisdom and great advice you would like to share with myself and the readers to spark their passions?
Julius:My advice is always the same. Continue to push until they have to answer to you. One thing that is for certain is that people can try to ignore you, but they can’t deny dope shit. We are living an a age where the gate keepers of the art are telling us what we can not achieve. That’s all bullshit.
One of the most misused terms are, “For the culture”. This statement has been used to create some sort of barrier of what is cool and what is not. Do your art for you and let the people see. If they don’t agree that’s cool, but long as you are satisfied with what you created, that is what matters. Be a voice that they cannot silence.
Thank you for the interview and time. Thank you to my partners on this journey: B. Todd Johnston and Jim Thalman. Thank you to my production partner CC,. and last but not least, thank you to my friends, family and my daughter for making me better.
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