Ask a black person to write and/or direct the film. [Edit: Ask a self-righteous white person to write and/or direct the film. Maybe get the white guy who wrote this piece to do it, he seems self-righteous enough. Or see if the woman who wrote The Help is available; people would pay to see that. If a black person is hired as a last resort, make damned sure that all backers, promoters, and crew are white. We’re not making a Tyler Perry film here, so white people need to be heavily involved, otherwise forget about an Oscar nomination for “Best Picture.”]
Hire actors that represent the neighborhood the film is set in. Hold on-site auditions at local theatres and playhouses, or share resources with independent film producers in the community. Authenticity is everything. [Edit: Whitewash the neighborhood—think Friends, Seinfeld, or the collected films of Woody Allen. Any black people featured on-screen should be super sexy according to Indo-European standards of beauty. Image is everything; the finer points of acting will sort themselves out later.]
Give the actors genuine roles to play. Include black characters that have agency and self-awareness. Focus on real people rather than caricatures. [Edit: A white lawyer or civil rights activist ought to be prominently featured. The white person needs to save the black people. Even when the black people appear to make their own choices, the main plot should be directly tied to the white person’s actions. Make sure this white person makes a few impassioned speeches set to epic background music—this will really sell the whole thing. There should also be an elderly black man who doles out folksy wisdom, or a sassy black woman always ready with a quip, or a black matriarch who says things like “Sweet child, let me fix you something to eat.”]
After police brutality is inevitably exposed on-screen, always remember that the victim is not on trial. Whenever showing glimpses into the victim’s life, don’t sugarcoat anything or feel the need to justify his or her entire life story. This victim doesn’t need to be perfect, only human. [Edit: The victim is on trial. The victim must prove his or her self-worth—a textbook martyr is ideal—otherwise the audience won’t be rooting for the victim, and this movie will fail at the box office. The victim shouldn’t even have overdue library books or parking violations. Spend an exorbitant amount of time scrutinizing the victim before exposing any murderous police officers.]
Showcase institutionalized racism. Establish context—this is key, otherwise the film’s police brutality might be written-off as a one-time incident rather than an endemic pattern of discrimination and abuse. Show racial profiling. Show a stop-and-frisk. Show verbal harassment. Hell, show how it’s still impossible for a black person to hail a cab, despite a billion stand-up routines on the subject. Show micro-aggressions. Show some asshole asking a random black person “can I touch your hair?” Show yet another goddamn McDonalds in a predominantly black neighborhood. Show a black person getting passed over for a well-earned promotion. Show an entire society that marginalizes and devalues millions of black lives on a daily basis. Show an ongoing, national problem stemming from repeated assaults on basic rights and personal dignity. Show that if we only protest when somebody gets murdered by the police, we’re addressing the problem way too fucking late. Finally, show the cop as a murderer and racist, but make sure the film shows everything else too. Realize that appropriate depth and breadth is impossible in a single film, but try anyway. Make a good-faith attempt. Work toward change, despite immense pushback. [Edit: Focus almost exclusively on the individual cop or police department as a singular, corrupt entity. Make the audience believe that #BlackLivesMatter is an isolated issue rather than a national concern. Above all else, make sure that white people in the audience don’t reflect on their own perceptions of race and ethnicity in America—we don’t want to make the audience feel bad. There should be moral absolutes with no deeper thought involved. People don’t see movies for sociopolitical discourse or honest self-reflection; they want to be entertained. Even if the film is shocking and graphic, the undercurrent should be “feel good”—because in reality, most big budget Hollywood films are “feel good” movies, regardless of how gritty or raw they appear on thesurface. Let’s not get overly ambitious here; make a few million bucks and call it a day.]
James R. Gapinski works as an adjunct Jedi, collects 8-bit video games, and edits The Conium Review. He also has some cats, which seems like a standard ingredient in most writer bio statements.