Media innovator and NYU professor Artel Great has probably heard his share of puns on his last name, and with good reason: the man has a wealth of great ideas. Take the titles of his recent research presentations — “Towards a Better Tomorrow: ‘The Defiant Ones’ & the Interracial Buddy Film” and (seasonably enough) “When the Veil Descends: Race & the Oscars.” Or consider his latest, most engrossing enterprise: Project Catalyst.
Project Catalyst is a transmedia showcase, home to the first-ever multicultural film and music app. Artists on the rise contribute high-quality entertainment featuring voices of color — especially nontraditional voices. NBPC has had the honor of hosting exclusively curated shorts from Project Catalyst artists this month — Ashley Denise’s “First Kiss,” Witness Project Youth’s “Rebecca’s Story,” Aiko Roudette’s “Hoghole” and April A. Wilson’s “Jo.” These four films have kicked off Season One of our new web series, AfroBytes.
AfroBytes has appealed to viewers across demographic lines — so much so that we extended the NBPC-Project Catalyst connection for an additional week. Translation: you can still catch all four AfroBytes films free online until February 14.
When we asked Artel Great about audience response to our collaboration, as well as the future of Project Catalyst, he shared some well-worded observations and exciting news:
How has AfroBytes changed the size/composition of Project Catalyst’s following since its premiere?
One of the reasons the Project Catalyst & NBPC collaboration on AfroBytes was so intriguing to me was the potential for this partnership to create a cross-pollination of our audiences. We were interested in introducing our constituents to the wonderful work being done by NBPC, and we were excited to have NBPC’s audience become aware of the amazing work we’re conducting at Project Catalyst. So far our collaboration has achieved exactly that. The majority of Project Catalyst supporters represent the millennial generation while NBPC’s represents generation X and baby-boomers. Bringing these groups together around ideas and entertainment they’re passionate about has been a awesome to watch.
Were you surprised by any of the audience reactions to the shorts?
Not so much surprised, but I’d say happy about the reactions to the films, particularly our Caribbean films, Hoghole and Rebecca’s Story, and notably, First Kiss and JO. These are films that have been under-recognized, in my opinion, and to enable audiences who otherwise would never have the opportunity to watch these films; to see them enjoying, sharing, and commenting on them really gives me a deep sense of joy. These filmmakers have done excellent creative work, and to be able to help breathe new life into them and to reach a broader audience is really special for me. At Project Catalyst we’re passionate about film and our job is to help filmmakers achieve their goals.
Can you explain a bit about what’s next for Project Catalyst? And has AfroBytes helped open any new doors?
AfroBytes has helped introduce new audiences to Project Catalyst for sure, and we’re excited about that. The series is gaining traction and our synergy with NBPC is real, which is why we’ve decided to extend the collaboration for an additional week.
As far as what’s next for Project Catalyst, it’s really huge. Right now, we’re designing a major symposium to be held in New York City in March. This event will serve as a culmination of the amazing work we’ve done throughout the year with the Cinema Research Institute, which granted us a major award for media innovation at the beginning of 2014. The symposium will showcase our achievements with the Project Catalyst Movie & Music App, which has reached 250,000 users across 40 different countries around the world in only five months! We’re very excited about that, we’re growing rapidly and we’re looking to partner with film festivals and angel investors to help increase exhibition and distribution options for the millions of Black filmmakers who are doing really amazing work outside of the traditional Hollywood channels. Our goal is to eliminate the desire for content creators to be a part of the so-called “mainstream” that doesn’t have their best interest in mind, by creating our own stream, I call it the “bloodstream” because we’re all about giving life to our people.
Fill in the blank: “If you liked AfroBytes, you’ll LOVE ____________.”
If you liked AfroBytes, you’ll LOVE the Project Catalyst Movie & Music App. Because it offers an even wider array of content that includes, movies from different genres like sci-fi, animation, comedy, drama, documentaries, and music videos. It’s really an instrument in the toolbelt for our media liberation. You can download it for free right here: http://projectcatalyst.mobapp.at/
Don’t forget to check out the AfroBytes series at https://blackpublicmedia.org/afrobytes! All four films will be streaming free until February 14.