Latest posts by Bryanna Briley (see all)
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An exhibition entitled “Here Hear” was previously on display at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Detroit, close to Cave’s alma mater.- October 17, 2016
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“What if I just woke up every morning and said ‘This is my body and I love it.’ and then I went out the door and presented myself in the best possible way?”- October 9, 2016
Devyne Johnson is a game changer. In 2010 she launched Artefaekts Entertainment, a production company that creates original content including short films, feature films, and live entertainment. A writer, content creator, and visionary, Johnson financed her first feature film, MOSAIC, a work of storytelling brilliance. She is the director of the film, the script being the first that she’s ever written. And on September 19th she’s launching her seven-city tour starting with Atlanta.
In an interview with RYSE, Johnson revealed that her drive to start Artefaekts came from a desire to bring her stories to life. About six years ago she began the framework for Artefaekts Entertainment. She explains, “I got into filming because I wanted to ensure that the things I wrote became tangible and real. When you’re a writer – particularly a creator of stories – the characters you create become like family members to you. At some point, they cease to be things you thought up and become people you know intimately as if they were your best friends.”
This transformation is one Johnson is quite familiar with. Johnson describes being precocious as a child. “When I was younger, I would get into trouble a lot. I was a busy, outgoing, very adventurous kid. I was very inquisitive. My appetite for learning and knowledge and education was insatiable. When I couldn’t find a backstory for stuff, I started making up my own.
Though at first Devyne’s parents didn’t understand her passion, they eventually came around. “I appreciate my parents so much for not staggering that curiosity within me. Within reason, they guided me along and made sure that I wasn’t telling stories that would cause a lot of trouble later on. They helped me to gain the confidence to just explore things in my writing and my short stories.”
It’s common knowledge that the majority of movies, TV shows, and even music are based on some story. This notion is manifest in Johnson’s work, especially since she has strived to make storytelling and, even more, genuine and personal practice.
“To me, storytelling is a lost art. I don’t think that we give enough credence and weight to the telling of a thing. We just talk at each other; we throw words around haphazardly – we don’t really spend time forming our thoughts and our words and being intentional about the things that we say.
“I value my words, words create your life, and they shape and form the concept of your reality. Everything about what we do at Artefaekts is rooted in the story. If the story isn’t there – the motivations the characters have, the reason they possess the back-stories they do – then I’m just pushing to make something happen, and that’s not what we [at Artefaekts] do.
Johnson loves what she’s doing because in many ways it’s a lot of fun. “But, it requires a lot of listening, a lot of transparency, and a lot of being honest to the story and what it is that you hear. I’m not making it up. I’m telling what I hear; I’m telling what I see, and I’m telling what I experience.”
Her feature film, MOSAIC, seems on the surface to tackle the difficulties of being a black woman in business while maintaining – and perhaps struggling with – the upkeep of a family. Johnson emphasized that Mosaic can speak to everyone, about the different facets of our lives that compose us and that we sometimes struggle to balance.
“I can’t honestly say that I was [trying to speak to that particular intersectionality for black women]. It’s never a challenge for me to be a black woman. I am what I am. I’ve never experienced the push-back as a black woman. What I have experienced is the challenge of validating my own voice.
“Before I’m a black woman, I am a person with my own thoughts, and my own ideas, and my own creativity. Within that, I needed to settle with myself that my voice has a valuable place in this market and this industry. For me, it was more asserting who I was and that as a first-time filmmaker I was equipped, I was experienced, I was creative enough, and I was deserving to tell this story.
“We have a multicultural company, a multicultural cast, and a multicultural crew. It’s important for me to walk in a creative space in a light that’s respective and reflective of everyone’s contributions. On set, it was never just about me as a black woman. If you have a dream, and you have a voice, then you’re valuable to Artefaekts. If you’re committed to what you have a calling to do, then I want to work with you.
That’s what I love: there’s no formula to filmmaking at all. You have the foundations – you need money, time, resources – but on any given day, everything could go wrong. You have to rely on your crew to pull everything together –and I can’t do that if I’m just thinking about me as a black woman.
“That said, I am a beautiful black woman!”
Alongside the production of the film, Johnson is encouraging others to share their stories with the #IAmMosaic social media campaign. “The main thing for me as a writer, as a creator, as a visionary is to be able to speak to potential in other people. And I realize that I could not accomplish anything remotely close to a form of success without people who trusted me, who latched on to me, who believed in what I was doing.
“I need people to understand how important it is that if there’s anything you’re dedicated to accomplishing, you only have a measure of success individually. But when people attach to you, fuse to you, connect to you, there is nothing that you cannot do. There’s truly a miracle in bringing together different thoughts and ideas and ways of seeing something so that you can accomplish more. That’s what ‘I Am Mosaic’ is all about.
MOSAIC plays nationally, this Fall, in seven select cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, D.C., Chicago and L.A. Atlanta’s screening is scheduled for September 19th. For more information and to support this film, please visit www.mosaicmovie.com.