Tressa Smallwood is no stranger to Hollywood.
The most recent project for the mega producer is the new film Secrets, which premiered at the American Black Film Festival on June 17.
An adaptation of the book, the storyline for Secrets brings edge, grit, and raw emotion to the big screen.
With the film starring Denyce Lawton, Harold “House” Moore and Denise Boutte, we caught up with Tressa to talk about the what it takes to bring a book to life.
What is it you look for when you’re choosing book to bring to life through film?
It’s really a tough job for me. I own the rights to so many best selling book titles. For starters, I’m looking for a great story, with characters that will make moviegoers love or hate them. We want to laugh, cry, and feel major emotion when watching a film, right? I put myself in the position of the person watching the film and ask, “What would I want to see?”
What misconception do you think people have about the film industry?
People think this is easy! If producing a feature film were that easy then everyone would be doing it. I’ve learned quickly that this industry isn’t for the weak. Some feel like all you need to do is hire a director and gather a few cameras. Not !
What all went into making your latest film, Secrets?
The making of Secrets was an incredible journey. Lots of hard work, sweat and tears. My cast Harold House Moore (Single Ladies), Denise Boute (Why Did I Get Married), Denyce Lawton (House of Payne) and Tobias Truvillion (Empire) were all phenomenal. They literally made the set seem like a fun day with the family. I’m especially proud of my sister, Tam “Hush” Lee (Lead Wardrobe Stylist). I threw her into this game because of her incredible eye for styling. The clothes and style of this movie will blow your mind away. Check out behind the Scenes images @thesecretsmovie.
Who are some women in the industry who inspire you?
I’m inspired by many but especially love Mara Brock Akil’s journey. She’s been in the game for a long time and climbed her way to success in the industry. She’s been a writer since 1999 and written TV series such as Girlfriends, and is the creator of Being Mary Jane. Her journey reminds me of my own since I started as an author, became the owner of Life Changing Books, an independent publishing house, and is now adapting those book projects to film.
At the end of the day, what message do you hope those who watch your films receive?
When I started MegaMind Media I knew I wanted to be known as a film company who shows African-Americans as a positive light. It doesn’t mean the characters won’t do any wrong- it means you’ll always see growth. In ‘Secrets’ there was tons of infidelity going on, but lots of lessons and forgiveness in the end.
What is your ultimate goal when storytelling?
I strive to create memorable heroes or villains. I want them to become magnets on screen. I feel like if I can write a story that will gave an actor or actress a shot at winning awards then I’ve done my job.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
Yes, I’m like an energizer battery, constantly charging! I’m currently working on my new film, Born in The Game which is another book adaptation from Life Changing Books. We are in the casting stages and will begin principle photography in late August. We’re also in pre-production on our next 2 films.