A local resident and national touring stand up comedian (youtube.com/watch? v=T20nmw4H0uY&feature=youtu.be), triple-Telly Award winning filmmaker/Actor, Amaru has been inspired and encouraged by the world’s chaos to find a solution. A solution which will create jobs and economic development within underserved and underrepresented communities and save his career at the same time. Besides being a headlining stand up comic performing in 43 states in 20 years, Amaru has mastered the art of content creation stemming from writing over 20 screenplays, authoring 4 books, and making a few feature films, such as the upcoming feature comedy, You’re the Church, along with his first film, an award winning documentary, Annie Was A Liar! the TRUTH about being in foster care (Amaru was in foster care).
A message from our neighbors. “Chicago’s film and television industry is not just taking off, it is putting down roots,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The city’s local film industry shows no signs of slowing down as we continue creating thousands of new jobs, supporting industry investments across the city and welcoming hundreds of film and television productions to bring their projects to Chicago.” No, we do not have the beautiful tall buildings that make up Chicago’s beautiful skyline, but we do offer character, beautiful landscapes and a “Detroit vs everybody” attitude. That also didn’t stop one of the biggest films in the comic book world from filming here (Batman vs Superman).
The industry isn’t slowing down… it’s almost at a complete standstill, EXCEPT within the independent content market. The major studios spend an astronomical amount of money on productions because they can. But we in the indie market know that spending that amount of money is unnecessary to get the job done. We prove it every day by doing the same with less. The industry will make a comeback once it has fully developed a way in which to manage and mitigate the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indie film and television production companies are why you are seeing a lot of the current content you are watching. There is a vacuum coming, and we will be there to fill some of it!
Michigan has had over 140 movies made here. Some of the many titles include: Batman vs Superman, Brick Mansions, U.S.E. – Ultimate Social Experiment: Survival Mode, American Pie 1 & 2, The Island, Four Brothers, Dream Girls, Detroit, White Boy Rick, 8 Mile, Reel Steel, RoboCop, Out of Sight, You’re the Church, and my favorite Michigan classic, Zebrahead. Less than two percent of these movies listed were made and owned by African Americans or people of color.
As mentioned before, the industry will make a huge comeback because we, as humans, and especially artists, always adapt. However, with this new adaptation of what the industry is changing into in real time, this includes it becoming more diverse and more inclusive. Never has there been a movie studio in Lansing, and never has there been a movie studio owned by a minority in Michigan. Amaru and his team partnering with a local community organization for the youth called The Fledge, bring over 100 years of entertainment experience combined, to bring Lansing, Michigan its first black owned state of the art movie studio with certified sound stages. This studio will be modeled after Tyler Perry’s studio bubble that he is successfully pulling off as we speak with no issues to date. We are receiving valuable advice from a TP studio rep as well. With a little inspiration from his old boss Master P. and Tyler Perry, Amaru decided to put words into action. A GoFundMe campaign https://gf.me/u/ynp8js and many phone calls later, here we are, Greenwood District Studios, Inc.
Why Greenwood District Studios? The Greenwood District was the district that was burned to the ground in 1921 in what was coined, Black Wall Street. It is also where they recently exhumed 10 bodies from that massacre location (Last week). That is where our studio name comes from and is dedicated to. We decided to create a new company, and this name seemed to be fitting and gave the studio’s existence even more purpose and meaning. We will dedicate some of the theaters after a few of the businesses that were burned down in the almost forgotten, tragic event. A film by the same name will be produced at the studio as well.
Additional homage to Black Wall Street will be the replication of the businesses that populated the strip of black excellence in 1921. Mini usable store fronts for our local Lansing mom and pop stores and businesses can utilize to create a simulated Black Wall Street experience. This will be a tourist attraction for Michigan.
The studio will take over the old Lansing Mall Cinema at 921 Mall Drive West. Over a 24 month period, the facility will be converted into a full fledged, state of the art, movie and television production facility. The renovation of the 24,000 plus square foot facility will begin late 2020. There will be 5 phases of development before it becomes a full production studio lot by end of 2021. We have just completed phase 2, getting the property. It will be the largest dedicated movie and television production studio in Michigan. This facility will create at least 100 jobs when completed. All who work at the studio will make a living wage. This will be partially achieved with a self-imposed salary cap on the studio heads and the studio will also facilitate a summer drive-in starting in the spring for 26 weeks. Last but not least, we are prepping and working with local government to become a tourist attraction in the city of Lansing.
How does the community benefit? It is simple. When the studio gets paid, the community gets paid. That’s it. The community supports the studio by consuming the content, and the studio supports the community with direct community upgrades and upkeeps. No politics or bureaucracy needed! Data from various film offices showed the rise in filming and commercial production had boosted local spending and job creation, while increasing commerce for a wide range of local businesses, hotel rooms, office and warehouse leasing, vehicle and equipment leasing, construction supplies, and local tax revenues.
Anyone with professional production experience will be encouraged to apply when position availability is announced via our website www.greenwooddistrictstudios.com (will be live 11/2/2020)