The hashtag #oscarsowhite took the world by storm and set the internet aflame earlier this year. No, it’s not a shock that Hollywood has a lack of diversity, but as many have pointed out, it also seems to lack great stories and roles for African American actors. It’s time to realize that #blackfilmmatters! It’s time to stop talking about how we need great black films, and start making great black films…even if it’s being done by a couple of white guys.
You read that correctly. A couple of white guys are taking the initiative to create great films and roles for black actors.
Meet producers, Blu de Golyer and Bo Keister. Blu is known for his writing, with nearly 50 screenplays under his belt, while Bo is an established actor having starred in films such as The Cabining, Remember the Titans, and Killing Kennedy.
This dynamic duo met while working on the 8-time award winning feature, House of Good and Evil, written and produced by Blu. In 2014, they combined to form Filthy Fingernails Productions, which produced the hit franchise, Hillbilly Horror Show. Since its inception, Filthy Fingernails has gone on to generate and distribute four volumes of Hillbilly Horror Show worldwide via streaming platforms like iTunes and Amazon Prime, among others, and a dedicated Roku channel. In addition, they have acquired rights to multiple forms of content from sports to comedy series, that will go into distribution later this spring, and have multiple scripts in various phases of development.
Granted, they don’t sound like the most likely team you’d expect to rally around the cause of diversity. I mean, let’s face it, it doesn’t get much whiter than a title like “Hillbilly Horror Show”. But when you get under the surface of Filthy Fingernails, as the name suggests, you find two dedicated filmmakers that simply believe in doing the tough work and telling great stories, regardless of genre, content, or skin tone of the cast. Touting a script that potentially glows with Oscar gold, this highly creative team is set to do their part with their newest project, Bullard.
Filled with numerous lead and strong supporting African American roles, Bullard tells the story of Eugene Jacques Bullard, the first African American military pilot. He is little known to most people, but his life is the stuff of which legends are made.
Running away from his home in Columbus GA as a child to escape the oppression of racism, his path would lead him on a 30-year series of adventures through Europe that would see two wars, two children, one of the most popular jazz clubs of the roaring 20’s in Paris, a wife that was descended from French aristocracy, and a slew of celebrities he would call his friends. It’s a gripping story of love, loss, and war that saw Eugene Bullard become a highly decorated hero, with 15 medals, including the Croix de Guerre, the most prestigious medal awarded by the French Military.
He eventually returned to America, living in New York City and working as an elevator operator at Rockefeller Center. Despite living a relatively quiet life, Eugene gained some notoriety in the 1950’s. In 1954, the French government invited him to help rekindle the everlasting flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, under the Arc de Triomphe, and he was interviewed on NBC’s Today Show after being knighted into France’s Legion of Honor in 1959. Eugene Jacques (James) Bullard passed away in 1961 from stomach cancer. He was buried in the French War Veterans’ of the Flushing Cemetery, in Queens, with full French military honors.
Filthy Fingernails has already set the gears in motion for Bullard, packaging the film, and planning to move into pre-production as soon as this fall. However, their efforts in picking up the #blackfilmmatters mantle don’t end there. They are currently developing a pilot about Bass Reeves too.
Born into slavery, Reeves went on to become one of the first black Deputy US Marshalls west of the Mississippi. He is credited with more than 3,000 arrests over his career. It is rumored that Reeves may have been the inspiration behind The Lone Ranger.
Filthy Fingernails aren’t the only fans of Reeves either. In fact, Morgan Freeman is working with HBO to produce a mini-series about the famous lawman now. Reeves’ story has been a pet project of Freeman’s for more than two decades.
These are only two of many projects where Blu and Bo believe they can carry the diversity torch. Another feature que’d for production, Finding Waldo, will utilize not only African Americans, but Hispanic and Native American actors too. Future episodes of Hillbilly Horror Show will incorporate two Asian American roles as well.
This is definitely a team to watch out for in the future! For more information about Filthy Fingernails, or to contact Blu de Golyer and Bo Keister, you can email them directly, HERE. Information on their current and past projects can be found below.
Filthy Fingernails - IMDb