This film competed in
2019 Music Shorts Film Festival
Director(s): Tosin Coker
Tanya Marks is a 29-year-old African American woman single mother with an abusive past, which robbed her of the dream of singing. Tanya takes on a double shift at her cleaning job to help catch up with the bills and expenses looming over her head after her son calls her at work to let her know their power has been cut. Tanya, shortly after taking the cleaning gig is confronted with the burden of her abusive past weighed against the fear of an uncertain future as she seeks to find the strength to believe in herself again. Starring Emmy Award Winner Diahnna Nicole Baxter, Elimu Nelson and Matisha Baldwin.
Tosin Coker is a multiple award winning filmmaker of both Nigerian and American heritage with a corporate background in entertainment marketing and licensing at Viacom, and Universal Music Publishing. He has produced, directed and edited music videos for international talents, documentaries, short films Television Series and feature films including the award winning film 'Doorways' starring Emmy Award Winner Diahnna Nicole Baxter ('Scandal','True Blood’) and Elimu Nelson (‘House of Lies’,‘Things Never Said’ and ‘Private Practice’). ‘Doorways’ toured the national and international film festival circuit in 2011 and 2012; including The Pan-African Film Festival, Texas Black Film Festival, Action on Film International Film Festival and Urban Suburban Film Festival bagging several official selections and awards. It was also selected amongst the Black Stories Matter Series by the Diversity in Cannes Film showcase sponsored by the California African American Museum. Doorways made its world television premiere on ‘Aspire Television Network’ with the American Black Film Festival showcase sponsored by HBO in September of 2015. It was viewed nationally in the United States and was later dubbed and subtitled for distribution in Francophone Europe and Africa after being Acquired by Ivorian Production and distribution company H-Studios. Tosin’s other motion picture achievements include nominations and wins for: ‘Motherless’ which was Nominated for Best Short at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and ‘Finding Neptune which was nominated for Best Short Film at the SoCal Independent Film Festival, Langston Hughes Black Film Festival, Charlotte Black Film Festival, Gary International Black Film Festival and won at the Capital City Black Film Festival. Tosin directed the Pilot season of the critically acclaimed Web series "On The Real"; dubbed Nigeria's edgiest television show for continental cable broadcaster Ebony Life Television. The pilot season, which was sponsored by Samsung and Ciroc, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Accelerate TV; an online content platform backed by Access Bank; a multinational financial services organization and one of Nigeria's foremost financial institutions. Tosin returned to direct the second season of ‘One the real’ which premiered in the summer of 2017 to critical acclaim and is currently streaming on the Ebony Life ON Platform. Tosin co-produced and directed the theatrical motion Picture “Lara and the Beat; A collaborative effort between Nigeria’s Biola Alabi Media and Tosin’s company Skylar Pictures LLC. The movie was nominated at the 27th Pan African film festival in two categories; Best first Feature film and Best feature narrative going on to win the Programmers best feature narrative prize. It was officially selected to screen at the Charlotte Black film festival, which helds in April of 2019 and won the Best International Film Award. Tosin’s next effort would be Producing and Directing 'Las Gidi Vibes’; a musical romance drama in the vein of Brown sugar between an aspiring second generation Nigerian American female music journalist from San Francisco and a talent manager in Lagos, Nigeria when she is granted an exclusive editorial piece on one of his clients; a fast rising afro beat pop-star who happens to be protecting a controversial secret of his own. Tosin is also currently developing the theatrical Feature Length version of his Award Winning Short Film Finding Neptune, which is bound for principal photography in fall of 2020. He has a bachelor's degree in Media arts and Animation from the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles and received an MFA in Motion Picture & Television from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Director of Photography
Kiva Knight grew up staring out the back of his mom’s van window traveling across the United States. This is where his appreciation for beautiful imagery was born. As a child Kiva often played Legos, which he credits as being his best teacher for solving problems on set. His main influence while growing up was his uncle who was a Photojournalist in the 60’s and 70’s in the San Francisco and Berkeley area. His uncle taught him how to use his first real camera, a Nikon F2, which he still has today.
Besides shooting films, Kiva is known as somewhat of a superhero among his friends and family. He has survived his house burning down, falling from a three-story building, and being run over by a semi truck. When asked about such incidents he simply responds, “ The most important thing in life is the skin on your back.”
Kiva is the founder of the Steelhip Studio Lighting Company in Oakland California. It is a motion picture and television lighting and Grip company. Kiva was the chief lighting technician on the Academy award winning film Moon Light/ It was a position, which he truly excelled at which was the reason he was brought back as lighting technician on the Academy Award winning film If Beale Street Could Talk Kiva received BFA in Cinematography from The Academy of Art University San Francisco.
My vision (theme) for Doorways can be explained in two words: personal and evocative. In filming a movie with the central themes of abuse, self-triumph, sacrifice and perseverance, I was very particular about telling an authentic tale that not only leaves the audience cheering but also creates an environment where the audience could empathize with the central characters. Every aspect of the film - the shots, the music, to the mood, the color palette, the tones (be it tension filled, detached, chaotic or intimate), was specifically chosen throughout the making process to move the audience through the storyline and evoke a sense of empathy towards the characters. In view of this, I opted out of using the basic shooting formula (i.e. using Master shots, close-ups, OTS etc.) instead, letting each individual scene dictate my choice of shots, production design color palette etc. I took the time to know the backgrounds of my leading actors so I could tap into their own personal stories and bring out a stronger performance than they would normally give. I used rehearsals as not just an opportunity for the characters to recite and memorize their lines but to figure out what makes them tick as actors and tap into that reservoir. In doing my research for Doorways, I watched films with a similar edge and feel to what I was considering to portray such as ‘Cadillac Records’, ‘What’s Love Gotta Do With It’, and ‘Precious’. I noticed how each director varied in their portrayal of the central characters arc in each film. Some where classical and conservative in their portrayal while other where raw and visceral in the delivery of the characters journey borrowing from the Italian neo realist “slice of life” concept. My vision was to depict the movie as compassionately yet truthful as possible. The one movie that really helped me in coming to terms with how I wanted to direct ‘Doorways’, was ‘Precious’. I saw how directing did not just stop with getting the best performances out of your cast, but blossomed in the areas of shot selection, color palette, soundtrack, production design, and make-up. As I dug deeper into the exploration of these other facets, my personal passion for ‘Doorways’ developed in greater lengths. In scenes of fear and helplessness such as the opening scene when the main character; Tanya has a flashback on a past abusive situation, I chose a dark color template, subdued music and a low shot to convey the dark truth the scene conveyed. I contrasted it with the bus scene of a cold color tone to raw background noise to snap the audience back to her reality, a cold and hopeless existence highlighted by the main character’s fatigue in life and its struggles (essentially unconsciously telling the tale of survival). In uplifting scenes or scenes of gratitude and hope such as a scene when David delivers some good news to Tanya in a hallway or the scene where Tanya's character and Fawn are cleaning, I did not necessarily choose a bright color palette as I felt that, that sometimes took away from the truth of the scene. As such, I combined a piquet color palette and with a soulful soundtrack that carried the audience along those blissful moments.