Communique: "Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale Of Two Beaches" Doc About Myrtle Beach Bikers

Nov 6, 2017

A documentary premieres in Wilmington Friday night about racial tension surrounding how Myrtle Beach handles 2 motorcycle festivals: Harley Davidson Week and Black Bike Week; and two beaches: Myrtle Beach, and its neighbor, Atlantic Beach. The film is called Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches.

The film is at Jengo's Playhouse at 7:45 Friday night as part of the Cucalorus Film Festival. 

If you blink, you might miss the town of Atlantic Beach, South Carolina on your way between North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach on Highway 17. Atlantic Beach spans less than a quarter of a square mile with about 350 residents, 82% African American. During segregation, Atlantic Beach was a rare access point for African Americans to reach the ocean. Ricky Kelly has a strong connection to Atlantic Beach. His parents met there, and he says he was probably conceived there. Kelly is a biker, but he started going to Black Bike week back in the 90s, before he had his first motorcycle. After a couople of years going to the festival, he became aware of racial tensions he hadn't seen before. 

Listen to Writer & Director Ricky Kelly, Producer Cherie Kelly, and Executive Producer Christopher Everett above. They will all be at the Friday screening. You can read extended conversations below, and watch this space for the extended audio.  

Conversation with Writer/Director Ricky Kelly and Producer Cherie Kelly: 

Gina: Are you a biker?

Ricky: Yes.

Gina: Tell me about Black Bike Week and your experience before you decided to do this film.

Ricky: Well I've been going down for years and I've been going before I had a bike. I think the first two years I went back in the 90s, I didn't even have a bike. But I got a bike. At that time- I'd been riding pretty much all my life- but at the time I didn't have a bike. And then a few years later I started going on a bike and of course it's a different experience from walking up and down the strip and riding a motorcycle and the freedom to ride. For the first few years I didn't even realize that. I was so caught up the good times, the girls, the get away type thing. And I didn't realize that the police presence- I mean I saw it, but I didn't take note of it. And I had an awakening. I had an experience with a police officer. I was standing in front of my hotel and these two cops rolled up on bicycles and told us to get off the sidewalk. And I was staying at the Yachtsman at the time. The Yachtsman was probably $200 a night and I'm standing on the hotel's sidewalk, not the main street sidewalk, but the one in front of the hotel and he told us to get off the sidewalk. I was like, You know I just paid $200 a night to stay in this hotel, I should be able to stand on the sidewalk and he said, Do you want to go to jail? And of course I got off the sidewalk. And that was when I started to really realize and I saw the police when I went out on a ride and I saw them coming to the beach. They would have a rally point at the Sheraton Hotel every year. They're bringing in 500 officers from all over the state and from Georgia and North Carolina. Off duty officers are coming in to work this event. And to see the mass of them coming in at one time to go to the rally point, it was just a crazy sight to me. And of course the harassment that went with it. Cops or police officers would harass you for small things like revving the engine on your motorcycle or you would want to go through traffic on the side you know around the cars and that of course will get you a ticket and a fine. It's just kind of an oppressive situation. We were being over policed there.

Gina: How long ago was that when that sidewalk incident happened and you had this awakening?

Ricky: That was probably my second year there. I remember my friend that was with me for that incident. And so I thought, once I get my bike I can have freedom to ride and I won't be subjected to the main strip walking up and down the strip, or you know or riding up and down in my car. You got really slow on the bikes because traffic is just horrendous during bike week. You know you bring in 500,000 people in some cases depending on the weather and you that'll cause a traffic jams in any city.

Gina: But it also brings in a lot of revenue.

Ricky: Oh, it brings in 50 million dollars in four days. 40-50 million. It's all weather dependent. But 40 to 50 million dollars in revenue. And what's unfortunate about it is, Atlantic Beach is the city that started this. It's the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bike Fest. It's not Black Bike Week, but that's the proper name for it. And the city that started it, they receive no revenue from this. They get their vendors, you know the people that sell shirts and all that. They have vendors on the strip but they don't get a kickback. Not even one percent of that 40 million dollars and one percent would really help that community you know. Atlantic Beach is a small community and they're in dire straits and it's unfortunate that we bring - or this community brings- all these people there and they don't receive any revenue for it.

Gina: Tell me about some of the people that we'll hear and see talking in the documentary putting forth different opinions about this issue.

Ricky: I interviewed a wide variety of people. I tried to get all the major players that were involved in this thing, this event. The Mayor is crucial to this story. The mayor of Myrtle Beach, John Rhodes. He sat down with us and he gave a candid view of his ideas of wanting the bike rally smaller. Now, to me, that's a red flag because why would any Mayor of any city not want more people to come? Bring as many people as we can, as far as revenue. But his thing is he doesn't really want those crowds. He wishes it was 150,000 as opposed to 350,000. I interviewed historians from Atlantic Beach, the people to explain the true history of Atlantic Beach, which was the last black beach in South Carolina and it was borne up again out of segregation. Black people had no other place to go. This was the only public beach where we were allowed to get in the water. And they had a cable that ran out into the ocean that divided Atlantic Beach from the next piece which was Cherry Hill.

I interviewed Waah. He's a record label on there for the Ruff Ryders label- DMX’s label. They come, Ruff Ryders is a motorcycle club that comes down every year and they come in mass. They are probably the biggest motorcycle club that comes. So I spoke to him about how he felt and how his club members felt. I spoke to NAACP members who come down and monitor the event because the NAACP was called inin late 90s and it was just because of reports of how businesses were closing down, they were jacking up room rates. If you go there for Harley Week, which is a week prior, you can get a room for $99 all day. The following week that same room jumps up to $269 with a three night minimum. And they have their right to raise their prices. I just think it just gives off this idea of, We're going to exploit these people for as much as we can possibly get out of them. It's the same event. There are less people that come to Harley Bike Week but it's just the idea that you can triple your rates when we get there. You have other businesses that close their doors. They don't even want the revenue that we bring. You know, racism is a powerful thing and if you will refuse to take people's money then man, that's some real hate right there.

But the NAACP has come down to monitor the events because of actions like that. They brought a lawsuit in 2008 against the Yachtsman Hotel, against Greg Norman's restaurant, against Hooters. It was several businesses that they had a class action lawsuit against because of their treatment for the black bikers.

Gina: How did that go?

Ricky: Yes they won. It wasn't like a monetary thing where they got billions of dollars or anything. It was like the businesses promised to do better. You know, take sensitivity training type things and be more appreciative of the black dollars that were coming. But yeah, they won the lawsuits and Yachtsman had to- I don't know all the particulars the exact particulars of it- but it was discussed in the film. When you see the film, it'll break it down for you about some of the cases. 

Gina: I understand that some black people have decided that maybe it's a good idea to just not go. Basically boycott Black Bike Week? Is that right?

Ricky: You know, there's two voices. There's the “let's just stop giving them money and take it somewhere else” and then they have people like the other voices that say “well where are we gonna go?” We can't go to Miami, they're not going to want us. Daytona Beach doesn't have the facilities to have that many more people coming down. And Virginia Beach. I remember in 1992 I think it was, we had the black college reunion up there and they brought in the National Guard and they beat students. So Virginia has definitely shown that they don’t want us. What's sad about this is, and I tell people, wherever we go with black people in that mass, we can expect no one is going to welcome us with open arms like, “Yes, come in and we want your dollar and whatnot.”

So what I'd like to do is, some of the businesses that have shown that they don't really respect our dollar and respect us that we could have like a Green Book. A Green Book is from back in the day when black folks would travel, they had this thing called the Green Book that they would look at to know which restaurants they could eat at, which gas stations they can stop at. You had to really plan out a trip. If you were driving across country or down south, you have to know exactly where to go in the 50s. So maybe we could come up with a list of people there that there are establishments that welcome us, that treat us with respect and roll out the red carpet for us. But for every one of those there's another one that begrudgingly accepts us every year and it's sad.

I mean, look at Atlantic Beach. I think Atlantic Beach. If we stop going, the only people that are going to lose is Atlantic Beach. And they count on this revenue. That community counts on us coming there every year and spending our money. If we stop, the only people we are hurting is ourselves. Because Myrtle Beach is going to be all right. The mayor has already said that it will hurt them for five years, but in that five years they can replace us with golfing. You know, the LPGA or any other groups of people that aren't of color that would come in and enjoy Memorial Day weekend, and I guess they wouldn't have to spend the money on the police. Which I think, again, is overpolicing because the statistics don't reflect that we are this wave this crime wave when we come here. Even though that's how they perpetrate it. Like we are just a horde of criminals that come there. No. What's sad is, White Bike Week or Harley Bike Week in its heyday, back in the day when it was really booming, would have 150,000 people. And their crimes would be similar to us having 350,000 people. You would think if it's two times as many people it would be two times as many crimes, but that's not the case. There's more crime being committed during Harley Week. It's sad.

Gina: It sounds like resegregation.

Ricky: That's exactly what it is. You know, and South Carolina isn't- look at their education, they are number 50 in education. They are a poor state. You have more black people there than whites but they have no political power. So the black community in the whole state of South Carolina, to me it's just like it's in a time warp or something. That's not to insult the people of South Carolina, but I'm just saying they can do so much better for themselves and political power, they just don't use it. They want things a certain way. They want to keep us in that little black area that we're in. They want our money but they don't want us.

I talked to a guy off camera. He was a restaurant owner. I asked him, “Why did you close your restaurant?” I was there the week before and I knew he closed. He said, “Well we had about ten people run out on their meals. We lost like ten plates. I can't deal with it.” And I'm like, you lose ten but you bring in a thousand more people than you would normally have. You know? It's just like you're cutting off your nose to spite your face, but of course I knew what it was. I mean his whole demeanor was like, “I don't care what you want boy.” It's sad. I mean sadly, this is all over. It's not just South Carolina. It’s the culture and the climate of this country right now.

Gina: Did you have a background in filmmaking or what kind of background did you have that made you decide to actually start filming this and putting together the media about this story?

Ricky: I went to go to San Augustine University. I was a Communications major but never worked in my field. I'm a plumber by trade, but I love documentaries. When I told my wife I wanted to do this documentary, she’s like, “OK baby, whatever it takes.” And it definitely couldn't have been done without her. I just formulated the storyline for what I wanted and for basically from what I've experienced. I just wanted to show the world this is how it is down here. Well let me get the main characters, the people that can help tell the story- the historian and the mayor. The main characters, the main players in the game and talk to them and it formulates into a story. It's like I said, it's not easy. But I think if you put your mind to anything you can do it and I'm proud of what we did. I think we did a great job. I was happy with it. And I say as a fan of the documentaries, I knew like what goes into them. If you want to inform people. And that's what I feel I've done. 

Gina: Did you get any perspective from white bikers?

Ricky: Yeah. I would go two weeks at a time. I would go down for White Bike Week all week and stay in Black Bike Week. So I got perspective from both sides of the fence. I talked to a lawyer from a motorcycle law firm. You have to ride a motorcycle in order to work at this law firm. But he's been active in that community for years. Actually, his law firm is the one that overturned the helmet law that they passed in 2008. And it really is what caused the Harley week numbers to fall off because I found that white people, when they were being mistreated or feel like they're being not wanted, they're not going to go. The state passed a law that you couldn't ride in Myrtle Beach without a helmet. In the state of South Carolina, you can ride anywhere in the state of South Carolina except Myrtle Beach without a helmet. And they did that to deter bikers from coming down. And the Harley riders, the white bikers said, “Well OK, we ain't coming back.” And they never really were able to get those numbers back up to where they were prior to 2008 because of that. But this guy's firm overturned that law. So he's spoken extensively on that perspective as a rider who's in the South Carolina Motorcycle Hall of Fame. So yes, we try to cover all bases.

And speaking of characters, I had Dr. Umar Johnson speak to the psychology of black people. Why do we do this? Why do we accept mistreatment and disrespect but yet continuously every year come back knowing we're not wanted there? So Dr. Umar Johson is a well outspoken psychologist and he spoke to that in the film as well.

Gina: How long did you film?

Ricky: Three years. We went three years straight down. It was pretty much just traveling distance to talk to different people in different places, and then of course for two weeks I would spend straight down there every year. So three years. And when I started this I thought, I could go down here and do it in one year. Stay for two weeks, shoot it, have it ready. The movie will be made by the end of the summer. It turned into a three year journey. It was good. I'm glad I waited. I didn't rush it. And it came together perfectly.

Gina: How did you meet Christopher Everett?

Ricky: I was his protege. When I first started filming I reached out to him because he was working on it. I saw him on social media doing Wilmington on Fire and I was just inspired. Like, Wow, there's someone who's doing what I do. I reached out to him and he said, “Whatever you need, I'll help you with it.”  He has done so much for this film. I made him my executive producer for the support he's given me.

Gina: He said that you've really done all this on your own.

Ricky: You know, just three years of hard work. My wife kept carrying the load. I worked and tried to put this film together. Sold my bike and did everything I could to finance this.

Gina: You actually sold your old your bike to finance this?

Ricky: Yes. Of course. I don't have a choice. I couldn't sell my car. I've got to get to work. It's been a struggle for us. But I think it's going to pay off. But I didn't go into this with the idea of it being a monetary thing, I just wanted to get the story out. Show the world and show my 12 year old daughter you can put your mind to something and do it. Just be an inspiration to her. And to help the community of Atlantic Beach. That place holds special place in my heart. So I want to pay attention to that community. Hopefully someone can come in and help build it up, rebuild it back to its glory. Because back in the day- back in the 60s in the 50s when it was it was a thriving community, all the black people would come. They would spend their money there and they had everything the white people had pretty much. But once desegregation came in 1968 and black people could go to Myrtle Beach or go to Cherry Hill or North Myrtle Beach, they started going to other places just to experience things they couldn’t experience before and I understand that, but they never came back. So that's what killed that community. So this will be done in part to bring attention to that community. To help that community regain its place in history.

Gina: What’s your wife’s name?

Ricky: Cherie. She’s right here, do you want to talk to her?

Gina: Sure. Cherie, how difficult has it been over the past few years doing it?

Cherie: Well, with anything that you do it's a sacrifice. But I just wanted to push him to do what his desire was and that was to complete the film. He had a vision and I just wanted to see him through it. There's difficulty in everything you do, but we overturned the obstacles and make good of it and it's worked out. 

Gina: How do you feel about the final product?

Cherie: I'm actually excited and I think it's a great product. I think it's something that everybody should see and have in their collection.

Gina: What's your favorite part? What do you think is the strongest thing about the film?

Cherie: The thing about the film, for me, would probably be the history because I learned myself about Atlantic Beach and its history. So the history of Atlantic Beach was one of the strongest parts to me. I had been there before but I never knew what it was. And actually learned that it was historically a black beach on the East Coast. I didn't know that. I just knew that it was next to Myrtle Beach.

Gina: Do you want to tell me anything specific about your experience going through this with your husband?

Cherie: I started out wanting to be a part of the editing process, but that was more time consuming, so I could better assist him with cinematography and co-directing So I kind of gave the editing part over. And we hired someone to do that. And just kind of wanted to fill in the gaps for where we have to spend finances. So it's been a sacrifice to play different roles in the filmmaking process itself. And it is truly a job. It's not something that you can do part time. So it required to be full time committed.

Gina: Are you going to come to Wilmington for Cucalorus?

Cherie: Absolutely I'll be there.

Conversation with Executive Producer, Christopher Everett:

Gina: What is Speller Street Films?

Chris: Speller Street Films is a film production and distribution company that I created a couple of years ago out of the documentary Wilmington on Fire. That was my first film. So I decided, you know what, the film is successful, let's turn this thing into a full production company and distribution company. Since I distributed Wilmington on Fire myself and also started to acquire several scripts and other films for distribution and development and production as well, I decided to start my own business. This is something that I think it looks like I'm good at it, so why not give it a shot. So that's what Speller Street Films is. And I named it Speller Street because that's the street I was born and raised on and that's when I first started to be creative. My cousin would come over and we would create little fake scripts and do little things like that. So my creativity of doing films came from growing up on Speller Street. So that's why I named it that as well.

Gina: Where is Speller Street?

Chris: Laurinburg. Laurinburg, North Carolina. Many people may not know where that is, but it's a very small town in North Carolina. It makes Wilmington look like Atlanta.

Gina: Now, Wilmington on Fire. I think a lot of our listeners have probably heard about Wilmington on Fire. It was really fully released last year and now you're still screening it, you're still talking about it and you actually have your first international screening coming up.

Chris: In a couple of months, actually. Like you said, Wilmington on Fire is still going strong. We're actually going to be the Rwanda Film Festival in Kigali. Kigali, Rwanda. They're doing an expanded film festival that they're going to do for several months starting in January. And so we've been invited to actually screen Wilmington on Fire there because I think they saw the film at the Pan African Film Festiva, which we were a part of earlier this year in February and where we won Best First Time Director for a Documentary. They caught wind of the film and wanted us to be a part of what they're doing out in Rwanda. So the film is getting some worldwide attention now, which is good. But we screened all over the country and we're still doing it to this day. Since November 2015, when we premiered at Cucalorus, up until now, we've screened the film about 100 times and it's still going.

Gina: And you are the executive producer of a film that is in the Cucalorus Film Festival coming up this week.

Chris: Yes. Black Beach, White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches.

Gina: Tell me about the film.

Chris: Black Beach, White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches- if your listeners are familiar with the bike rally every year Memorial Day weekend down in Myrtle Beach. It's a real big event. The week before Memorial Day is the Harley Bike Week, which is pretty much a majority white bike rally weekend. And then the following week, Memorial Day weekend, is Black Bike Week. Black Bike Rally Week. And it's been like this for about 40-50 years. And so this film is directed by Ricky Kelly. I met Ricky a few years ago and he reached out to me and he was filming this film about the racial tension and the racial segregation of these two bike weeks that go on in Myrtle Beach and how it's still going on to this day. And it also gives some history of how both of these bike weeks were started. I learned a lot that I didn't know about because before meeting Rickey and hearing about his film, I just thought Black Bike Week was all about partying and half naked women sitting on bikes. Because I've been a few times myself and that's all I saw. But looking at this documentary it just opens up your eyes to what this event is really about and how Atlantic Beach was a black beach resort area back then and how this bike week started with these guys that wanted to come together every weekend and they just started inviting other motorcycle groups to come to Atlantic Beach in fellowship and to reminisce about certain things and then it just became this major event that generates millions and millions of dollars to Myrtle Beach. But the city of Myrtle Beach doesn't fully embrace it. They're really the revenue generator of the town and they don't really fully accept the event or embrace it. So that's what the film is about. It tackles all of those things and really brings it to light. And I think everyone who has been to either bike festival or has heard about it should definitely come see this film and you're going to learn a lot about it.

Gina: So when you say that the city hasn't embraced it, do you mean the city of Myrtle Beach has not embraced Black Bike Week or either bike week?

Chris: Black Bike Week specifically, because usually- and the film shows all of this- they have more police officers there during the Black Bike Week than the white one. This all is a negative stigma that they've really attached to it. And the film breaks all that down and shows how the crime and all that stuff is just not too off between both of the bike weeks, but they kind of emphasize it more on the black one. And then they also have the mayor in the film and he's a real piece of work because he specifically says that, No we don't want this bike rally. They kind of want it there, but they want to really control it and make it a little bit smaller. And from the governor and on up it's like they don't really fully embrace the event and they've created all these different barriers and barricades to restrict the movement during Black Bike Week. So the film touches on all of that. Like certain things that the government has done to lessen the popularity of it and the attendance of it as well. And also Rickey interviews some of the waitresses who work at restaurants and eateries in Myrtle Beach during this event. One of them talks about how they just treat the customers differently in regards to paper forks and paper plates during Black Bike Week but during White Bike Week, they use actual silverware. Just the little minor things that we really don't really pay attention to. It is really highlighted in this film.

Gina: And do the black bikers and white bikers get along?

Chris: Yeah, of course, of course. But the thing is, Black Bike Week started because we didn't really have our own thing. A lot of times we weren’t embraced to go to certain white bike events, so we just created our own thing. It's not that we wanted to be separate. We just wanted to create our own thing because we couldn't be a part of someone else's thing. So that's why we kind of did that and it just grew and grew and became one of the most popular events on the East Coast.

Gina: And how many bikers are we talking about at these events?

Chris: It's a whole bunch. I think they say 100,000 on up. Packed. This is way more then than the Harley Bike Week. It's way more. Like I said, the Black Bike Week is the biggest revenue generator for that town.

Gina: This film is a documentary. Who directed it?

Chris: Ricky Kelly. He's the director and writer and producer of it and also his wife, Sheree Kelly, she's a co-producer. They're kind of a husband and wife team and they've done a great job doing this film. A mutual friend of ours kind of connected us together back when Ricky was just getting started. And I think I was still filming Wilmington on Fire at the time. I think I was just about to finish my film. And so he connected us together and Ricky just had a lot of questions. When he heard about Wilmington on Fire, he really fully embraced me and just wanted to pick my brain. And then I just said, You know what, let me just be an executive producer and I could help you out through this whole process. So I helped him out, got him along the way. But he handled pretty much everything himself. He's a talented filmmaker and I hooked him up with Umar Johnson, who's in the film. He's in my film as well. So he said, Hey Chris, I wanted to have Umar in this thing as well. So I said, I'll hit him up and see if he's interested. And Umar was interested. So little small things like that to show him some ins and outs of doing a documentary and how to structure it. So is this just an executive producer role, how my executive producer helped me for Wilmington on Fire. So I try to do that with other filmmakers as well because I was helped like that and it helps a lot. We need that guidance as up and coming filmmakers.

Gina: When is it screening?

Chris: Black Beach, White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches screens at Cucalorus on November 10th, 7:45 p.m. at Jengo's Playhouse. And you can get tickets now at Cucalorus.org.

Gina: Is it a short film?

Chris: I think it's about 70 minutes, actually. So it's a full length film.

Gina: Tell me about the As an Act of Protest. This cult classic from 2002 that Speller Street Films has basically been distributing and remastering.

Chris: The guy who did that film- talented actor, writer, director, Dennis Lheureux King Lee- he did the film back in 2002. The film As an Act of Protest follows like this guy named Cairo Medina. He's a stage actor and him and his friend, Abner- Dennis, the guy who directed the film, he's actually a costar in the film as well- and they have this theater group and they want to change the world through art. But Cairo is getting fed up with being an artist and not getting anywhere. And that stems from his brother getting killed by the cops. And it's like a year later and he's still frustrated that nothing is happening and nothing is changing. So he decides to take matters in his own hands by force.

And the film- it got great reviews through Variety. A few black media outlets called it, “the best black film nobody will see this year” in 2002. But it was literally blackballed in New York. It was just bad timing because when he finally finished the film in 2001, he actually finished it two weeks before 9/11 happened. And then once that happened, he was trying to do some screenings in New York and it just wasn't happening. A lot of theaters said, No we're not showing it, this is a time of healing and this is not a good thing. So he went on the film festival circuit for a few years and it just never really got anywhere, but it was real big in Europe for some reason. And so he had a lasting impact over in the U.K. and different art houses over there and film festivals over there in Europe. So the film just kind of went away and it went underground for years.

And I think in 2014, filmmaker Floyd Webb from Chicago, he actually wanted to do a screening of it because we started to have a lot of these police shootings of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. So people who are familiar with the film on an underground level say, Hey, I think this film is more timely now than ever. Let's start doing some screenings. So that revived a little interest and caught my interest as well. I've known Dennis for a few years now and so he reached out to me and said, Hey Chris, would you be interested in trying to help me put this this film back out some way? You know I never really did anything with it. So I said, Yeah why not. So we did a distribution deal type of agreement and we've been restoring, remastering it. I think the first actual revival screening we did was in Raleigh in July and we had about 60 people come out to it and we just did a screening in Brooklyn. And that's the first time this film actually been screened in New York in 15 years. And we just did it this past Thursday at the Richard Beaver's gallery in Brooklyn. Great screening, great dialogue afterwards. So we're really trying to do some screenings of it and get revived interest. But the goal is to have the DVD ready to roll by March 2018. So we plan on doing a screening here in Wilmington maybe in January and several other parts of North Carolina, Georgia and California as well. But we're definitely going to do a screening in Wilmington possibly in January.

Gina: Tell me about Flagged: An American Love Story.

Chris: Flagged: An American Love Story is by a talented up and comer filmmaker, Miles Jordan, and he's a guy I've been mentoring for about a year, year and a half now. And it's a documentary short and it's about the teacher Lee Francis, who was a teacher in Fayetteville. And a lot of people might be familiar with him because of the last year- that's when all of the controversy with him happened where he was teaching a class about the First Amendment and he did a demonstration of stepping on the American flag and one of the students recorded on a cell phone and sent it to their parents and it just went viral. And he was getting all this hate mail and e-mails and stuff like that and he got suspended from his job and then he ended up losing his job as well. So the film documents Lee Francis and his navigation and journey through this whole process of trying to teach about the First Amendment and he sees that this love that people have for the American flag, it's a lot of hatred and anger behind it as well. And the film is about 15 minutes and it's a short documentary. So it kind of documents his whole experience going through losing his job and going around still trying to fight for his First Amendment rights. So it's a great documentary and it's screening also at Cucalorus as well.

Gina: And you are acting as kind of a mentor?

Chris: Yeah, I'm a mentor to him. I met Miles last year when he was just starting to film the documentary. And I met him through Lee Francis, the guy who the documentary is about. And he introduced us and he said, Hey Chris I think you should really meet this guy, he's an up and coming filmmaker, and give him some guidance. And I met with Miles a few times. Great kid. And he was willing to learn and listen and he's done a great job. He's one of these guys that you're definitely going to look out for. I think he's going to do some great things in the documentary world. He loves documentaries. He has a great eye for storytelling. And it's a compelling story. I learned a lot as well just hearing him break down everything that Lee was going through and how he put it together in 15 minutes is great. So I'm a mentor.

Flagged is actually screening at Cucalorus and it's a part of the Eddison Shorts Block and it's screening November 11th 7:00 p.m. at Jengo's Playhouse. But so many things are going on. We have As an Act of ProtestWilmington on Fire is still going strong. And if people are interested in buying that digital download or DVD WilmingtonOnFire.com. Just go to the web site and buy the film directly. And also I'm actually a producer on an up and coming project. My executive producer for Wilmington on Fire, Pete Chapman, he actually just finished directing a few episodes of the ABC TV show Blackish. I'm working with him on an independent project. We're doing some fundraising for it and it's a Puerto Rican family comedy drama that we're working on and we're doing fundraising now for it and hopefully will be ready to start filming in April 2018. So if anybody out there wants to invest in a cool project with some great talented filmmakers- hit us up. So those are pretty much the things that I'm working on now. There's just so many projects. I never thought that I would actually be doing this full time back when I was doing Wilmington on Fire. It was just all about just getting Wilmington on Fire done. And then just maybe show it to a few people and move on to something else. But I didn't really think that my life would turn into actually being a full time film producer.

Gina: If people wanted to find out information about the fundraiser for the Puerto Rican comedy, where would they find that?

Chris: Just hit me up spellerstreetfilms@gmail.com.  We don't really have anything out there yet, we're just seeking some private investors right now. Or they can hit me up on my cell phone at 910-378-4357.