You’re probably asking yourself who Felix Gary Gray is. You might even be coming back to this article after performing a quick Google search for his name. If you’ve done the latter, you more than likely came across the movies he’s most famous for writing and directing. Friday, Next Friday, and Friday After Next are classic Black movies and Hollywood box office successes. These Black comedy classics have met with huge ticket sales, critical acclaim, and raucous laughter. Yet, despite all that success, the writer and director of these hilarious movies, professionally known as F. Gary Gray, remains largely a hidden gem in the wider movie industry.
Many people don’t realize that aside from the iconic Friday movie trilogy, F. Gary Gray also directed Set It Off, The Italian Job and Straight Outta Compton. That obscurity happens because ironically in the movie industry, directors are often overlooked in favor of the movie they direct. In other words, while the movie may receive rave reviews and millions of viewers, outside of directing circles, the directors often go unremarked upon. They sometimes receive recognition and acclaim at awards show, but then go back into obscurity until the next award season. Think about it – it’s no accident that Tyler Perry puts his name on his movies (the vast majority of his movies start with Tyler Perry’s). Even with his great commercial success, he still works hard to keep his name prominently featured and displayed and to build his brand.
At Reel-365, we not only congratulate Mr. Perry for his success, we applaud him for it. But, while we celebrate his inclusion in traditional movie theaters and director’s circles, we feel the weight of responsibility to help up-and-coming as well as well-established Black moviemakers and directors find much of that same name recognition. These visionaries deserve to have their creations viewed by their intended audience. That’s why we are determined to bring as many of these unsung men and women as possible into our Filmmaker Community and make them readily available via 24-hour online streaming to our Movie Fan Community.
Black people are eager for Black movies, but they are finding them in limited quantities, in limited demand, and in often obscure locations. In fact, too often, they bypass theaters and go straight to video. We believe it’s well past the time when the presence of a Black leading actor turns a film written, directed, and produced by white Hollywood into a Black movie. No, it’s time we embrace movies fully conceived, written, directed, produced, and cast for Black people, by Black people. Reel-365 is here to help make that possible.
We’re amassing a collection of the best, high-quality, Black movies by some of the best Black moviemakers you’ve never heard of. Obscure black moviemakers like Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep), Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere), Joseph Manduke (Cornbread, Earl and Me), and, yes, F. Gary Gray (who also produces music videos and short films) need and deserve their time in the spotlight and far more than fifteen minutes of fame.