11 Questions: Aletha Campbell, Movie Producer

Campbell is a Liberian film maker currently residing in the United States of America. Her passion for movies and filmmaking led her to the recent debut production of “Somewhere In Baltimore.” The movie has been an instant sensation with critics and premiere viewers, having seen successful premiers in Philadelphia, Minnesota, and other cities in the US. It is set to tour Western Africa soon:  June and July of this year. Campbell’s “Somewhere In Baltimore” is also the recipient of the 2013 best movie of the year, presented by the Liberian Entertainment Awards.

1. How and why did you venture into film making, you have a degree in computer engineering?

I have always loved movies. We watched movies all the time when I was a child. Film making was something I thought about but never had an opportunity to do personally while growing up, both as a teen and as an adult.  I would eventually go to school to study computers and just went on with my life. But surprisingly, years back when I met my husband, Andrew Campbell; I would come to realized that he had a passion for films just as me and had done a lot of screenwriting. And that’s where it all began.

2. Smooth Fusion Films which is the production company you co-founded with your husband is already talking about a second film production, the movie industry back home must be pleased with your efforts, what support are you getting from Liberians.

When I first started down this path I had some people, Liberians, that really supported me and I couldn’t have done it without them. As we grow and the opportunities come and keep coming I am finding more and more people are supporting us.

3. Your experiences during the Liberian civil war must have influenced “Somewhere in Baltimore” some have said. Is it accurate to say so…?

In a way it did. Although the script was written way before my husband and I met, I picked this one because of the main character. Linus, the main character, was involved in a very traumatic event that changed and affected the way he thought and lived his life. When I was in Liberia during the war, I along with millions of other Liberians witnessed and lived through traumatic events that still affect many of us to this day. I would say being able to relate to Linus because of our traumatic experiences made me chose this film as a first production project.

4. You are a recipient of the 2013 Liberian Entertainment Awards for best movie producer on you debut production, you must be please with your efforts?

The ‘Best Movie Producer’ was awarded to me at the New Liberia FM Honors Awards. It brought tears to my eyes. The 2013 Liberian Entertainment Award was for ‘Movie of the Year’. I was pleased with my efforts but more so I saw this award as a recognition for of all our work—everyone involved who made it a success. Nobody could have won this award on their own. It took a lot of hard work and dedication by countless people from all different types of backgrounds coming together to make this a reality. It really gives me hope for our wonderful home of Liberia. Liberia does have a bright future as far as the film industry is concerned. This award shows that no matter where you come from or what your beliefs are, if you put aside your differences and work together there isn’t anything that can’t be achieved and I know in my heart that Liberia will prove this true.

5. Your husband wrote the movie?

Ha-ha, good question, yes. My husband wrote this movie many years ago, many years before we met. He’s a great man whom I love very much. He’s my star power. I’m blessed to have met such a great man, my gentle giant, the most handsome man on planet Earth. My beautiful daughter [who played a small role in the movie] has been very supportive.

6. You are also slated to take the movie on the road, especially Western Africa after a successful premier in the United States, any plans to include other parts of Africa.

Yes. We have many plans in the works right now. We are hoping that throughout this trip, and thereafter, more opportunities will be available. So far, there has been many, many opportunities; many more than had been expected and we are excited.

7. The sound track to the movie was done by an American R&B group. Critics are saying, such an indigenous movie which is now being critically acclaimed should have had a home-grown sound track also, what say you…?

Although I am a Liberian I didn’t want to be so selective when it come to such an argument, and I am not saying the point is invalid, but the main actor is Liberian and a very large percentage of the actors are Liberians; I worked with an international cast of actors from almost a dozen different countries, so I think the sound track was appropriate for this movie.

8. The movie industry in the country is dying, you hardly hear or see Liberian couples, teenagers and senior citizens going to the movie like it was back in the days before the civil war, what must be done to invigorate the movie industry in Liberia.

I remember growing up back home my mother and father used to go to movies a lot. I used to watch movies all the time when I was younger, I think we need those days back. I also think public awareness could help bring it back to where it used to be. The more we support, the more we will grow, and ii hope the more Liberians will support the movie industry.

9. What role do you hope to see the Culture and Tourism Bureau within the Liberian government play, if Liberian arts and especially if efforts like yours must succeed?

When I looked into bringing ‘Somewhere In Baltimore’ to Liberia I contacted the Culture and Tourism Bureau. They were very encouraging and supportive. I believe with this type of support and encouragement we will be on our way back soon. Finding a way to encourage the growth of theaters would make a big difference.

10. You must have a busy family life in addition to a professional career, what is leisure to you?

As when I was a child, I still watch a lot of movies. I also like to travel as much as I can. By the end of this summer I will have traveled to 20 countries in the past 4 years. I enjoy seeing and experiencing different cultures.

11. What message would you like to part with as you look forward to a successful launch of “Somewhere In Baltimore?”

If we as Liberians continue to support each other and work together, Liberia’s Entertainment Industry has the ability and talent to compete shoulder to shoulder with the best industries worldwide. source: www.liberianlistener.com

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