A new PSA called “Mentors” juxtaposes two scenarios involving the game of chess: one stark and foreboding, in which black pieces knock one another off the board, and a brighter, more hopeful vision of a Black mentor and mentee playing the game in the light of day.
Produced by Commercial Directing Film School and directed by alumnus Devin Jordan, “Mentors” was created for Holistic Evolution, serving young men of color aged 16-24 in Northwest Indiana.
Creative Director Dan Councilor of Leo Burnett Detroit lent his services to the project, as did DP Ben Brady, editor Susan Munro of Hybrid Collective, Aurastan Music Design, and Nice Shoes.
“I met (Holistic Evolution founder) Esther Lewis on the web while just trying to be an ally supporting Black-owned businesses,” said Brady, whose Filmmaker’s Diversity program has awarded Commercial Directing Bootcamp scholarships to 15 filmmakers from underserved communities since 2015.
Brady adds, “When Devin told me he was cutting his teeth helping Black businesses hurt by the pandemic, this project was a no-brainer. So I produced with Devin at the helm. I’m so grateful to be able to help a non-profit that’s making change in young men’s lives on a local level. And to have the tremendous talents of my industry friends, it was like making stone soup. Which may have been the first ponzi scheme.” Watch the new creative effort below:
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“I thank God for His favor in moving on Jordan’s heart to support our work on behalf of males of color in Northwest Indiana,” said Lewis. “This PSA and its quality have established Holistic Evolution as a higher caliber organization, which is something I would have never been able to do otherwise. The quality tells donors that we are a reputable and trustworthy organization that is worth their investment. Additionally, it humanizes males of color. One of the biggest challenges that I experience in serving this population is the community’s perception of males of color 16-24. They are portrayed in a negative light in the media, so of course, raising money to engage them in prevention activities like mentoring has been proven to be a challenge. This amazing PSA has gone a long way in changing the narrative and supporting the efforts of Holistic Evolution.”
“As a Black father and director born and raised in Atlanta, I’ve seen first hand how not having a positive male role model can affect younger Black men,” said Devin Jordan. “When I found out about Holistic Evolution, I was immediately on board to help my community, because our kids are the future leaders of tomorrow.”
For Councilor, the PSA was a chance to honor the mentorship he had received in the past. “Holistic Evolution is an organization I felt good about working with, because I know in my own life there were a few people who helped set me on the right path and helped me set and achieve goals,” he said. “I still think about those people today. It’s very important to give back and I saw this as a small opportunity to do that.” Creatively, Councilor embraced the challenge of “talking about violence without actually showing it,” which led to the evolution of the chess analogy.
Starr Session, Exec Producer of Hybrid Collective, added, “As a women-owned and diversely staffed editorial company, we are proud to stand behind Holistic Evolution in their efforts to support our young Black men in America.”
For Brady, the project served as a guiding light for his own efforts mentoring commercial filmmakers. His Commercial Directing Film School alumni have variously gone on to secure commercial representation, garner trade press for their spot work, and receive nominations for the Cannes Young Director Award and other honors. Commercial Directing Film School is now curating an Alumni Showcase, and Brady is proud that the school produced a spot for a new director in support of a good cause.
“Helping a noble nonprofit that mentors at-risk young men, while creating an opportunity for an emerging director? That’s a win-win-win!” he said.
CLIENT: Holistic Evolution
- Founder: Esther Lewis
- Creative Director: Dan Councilor, Leo Burnett Detroit
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Commercial Directing Film School
- Director: Devin Jordan
- Executive Producer: Jordan Brady
- DP: Ben Brady
- 1st AC: Bashy Jamal
- Editorial: Hybrid Collective
- Editor: Susan Munro
- VO: Starr Session
- Assistant Editor: Niko Radicanin
- Sound Design: Aurastan Music Designs
- Mix: Gregory Ives
COLOR: Nice Shoes
- Colorist: Sam Ommen
- Producer: Keith McCabe
- Executive Producer: Tara Holmes
- EP/Development: Jonathan Becker