NAIMAH FULLER is a writer, producer, director and videographer of independent film. The HOME Project is a journey back to her southern roots. Naimah was born in a small rural town in Georgia, and she gives credit to her maternal great-grandmothers, Emma Phillips and Daisy Lawson, for giving her a solid spiritual foundation for her filmmaking aspirations. "I owe everything to my ancestors. My father and my grandfather were both photographers. So telling stories through images is in my DNA... It's in the blood!"
"My journey in filmmaking began at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City. I began my serious pursuit as a professional filmmaker as a trade union apprentice at Motion Picture Local 81 for Script Supervisors, working on TV commercial sets, and on the set of motion picture productions. Over time, I worked my way up to assistant director status. Those skills taught me the logistics of motion picture production. My first mentor was none other than renowned film director Gordon Parks. Gordon took me under his wing and allowed me to soak up as much knowledge as I could. Like most industry professionals, I learned my craft on the job, working on the set of major motion picture productions. As fate would have it, my career path lead me to an opportunity in broadcast journalism in the Eye Witness News Room at WABC-TV in New York City. Working at WABC, I was given a chance to expand my skills as a producer and as a writer. It was in those capacities that I received the prestigious National Media Women's Award for Best Producer of A Documentary. But in the back of my mind I always wanted to produce my own projects. My first independent feature film MATRIARCH, was shot on location, on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, on a shoestring budget, with the help of cinematographer BILL DILL. Anyone who knows anything about independent filmmaking knows it is not a profession for the faint of heart. So I have paid a few dues. But again, I give credit to my Ancestors who laid down a foundation that has given me the courage to keep the faith to continue my pursuit as an independent-entrepreneurial filmmaker. So it has been a blessing for me to complete the production of HOME, a feature length documentary movie about the mass migration of African Americans returning HOME to the south in the 21st century, and for bringing me back HOME."
"When I began The HOME Project, I had no idea what an incredible journey of discovery it would be. Nor could I forsee the challenges I would face in the process of producing this documentary about African Americans returning to the South. When I was in the newsroom at WABC-TV in New York City I was accustomed to being provided with a camera crew and an editor who followed my script. Those luxuries were not afforded to me on The HOME Project, leaving me with one option: to wear the hat(s) as writer/researcher, producer/director, sound and lighting tech, cinematographer, and finally editor.
"The question I set out to answer in this documentary was: Why were African Americans migrating en masse back to the South with its torrid history of slavery, Jim Crow terrorism, and segregation and racism? It was Dr. Maya Angelou who reminded me that the southland was paid for with black blood and bones that are burried in the gound, and on a deeper level, black folks are simply coming back HOME. Her words of wisdom helped me understand that the answer to my question was in the land itself. That the southland is a land whose unique story has been shaped by the spirits of black people who suffered through slavery, and who waged a relentless struggle for freedom during The Civil Rights Movement. The spirits of those who died in slavery and in the quest for freedom are deeply-rooted in this southern land. This migration is a home-coming of the black southern ethos. And so it is with tremendous pride that I am finally able to deliver this project about African Americans returning to the New South in The New Great Migration. Consequently, this documentary about African Americans coming back HOME to the south has given me two incredible gifts: it reconnected me to my southern roots, and it made me a better filmmaker.
"This fall I will be launching The HOME College Tour. The purpose behind the tour is my way of "giving back" to those communities that have been so much a part of this project. The HOME College Tour is also my contribution toward helping to build the Beloved Community that Dr. King dreamed of building for future generations in the south and across America. I hope I will be seeing you at a college near you."
LISTEN TO NAIMAH'S INTERVIEW ON NPR
The HOME Project is a Homage to my Ancestors for the endless sacrifices they made. In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou,
"We've already been paid for."