The Black Panther movie scratched the surface on a growing approach in filmmaking. Just ask Teo.
Tewodross “Teo” Melchishua Williams is an Associate Professor & Program Coordinator, Visual Communication and Digital Media Arts (VCDMA) at Bowie State University. In that capacity, he’s helping to teach and career direct a generation of new filmmakers and animators and has already done so with hundreds of students who are now working as influential professionals in the industry.
But that’s just his day job. Mr. Williams has always been a full-time visionary with regard to African-American images and stories in filmmaking, animation, motion graphics and projection design and maintaining a social and cultural consciousness in the process. And he has always has a particular focus in science fiction, science fantasy and future genres.
“We are still defining what Afrofuturism is,” he says. “It’s a genre that consists of science fiction, technology, horror and fantasy and it pulls from African aesthetics of culture and history.”
The massive success of the Black Panther film last February sparked attention to the fiscal potential of the genre. It helped to demonstrate what Williams and many like him already sensed: more than a hunger for new cultural perspectives in film, there’s also a market.
Williams’ own studio, Visual Jazz Media, is a Prince George’s County-based headquarters for filmmaking, animation and digital media and – and pushing the limits of conventional understanding of African American images in the field. He has several of his own film projects in the works. “The Beat” is a science fiction/thriller and trans media narrative project (set for 2021), part of a 3-part series. He’s researching and developing a romantic crime and drama/thriller for 2021 with wife, Jennifer Williams. He also has another series of sci-fi/horror films scheduled for 2023. Almost all of Williams’ film and animation projects are produced in Prince George’s County, Md.