Director Robert Townsend Teams with UM, City of Miami on Film Training Program

Coral Gables (October 29, 2012) — The City of Miami, in partnership with the University of Miami School of Communication and the South East Overtown Park West/OMNI Community Redevelopment Agency (SEOPW), has announced a community film initiative with Hollywood filmmaker Robert Townsend.

During a press conference a Miami City Hall on October 25, City of Miami, School of Communication officials, and Townsend detailed the upcoming community film initiative that includes a film production and student training program designed to provide local youth with an opportunity to thrive in their neighborhood as an alternative to violence.

The community-based film project taught by Townsend will give 20 students from the Overtown community and 25 students from the School of Communication’s Cinema and Interactive Media program an opportunity to participate in a six-week training program with South Florida Workforce.

A film titled Playin’ for Love will be directed and produced by Townsend, best known for his blockbuster hits such as The Meteor Man, The Five Heartbeats, and the soon to be released In The Hive, which stars Michael Clarke Duncan in his last performance.

“When [City of Miami] Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones approached me about creating a project here in Miami to give the local community and beyond a message of hope, I signed on immediately,” said Townsend. “This is a situation I understand. I was that kid from the ghetto. I know what we can do by reaching out to young people in Miami and showing them possibilities. They too can touch the dream, and we are all joining together to help that come true.”

The project will highlight historic Overtown as well as local high schools such as Booker T. Washington, Miami Jackson, Miami Edison, and Miami High.

UM students will be serving on all aspects of the production, from assistant directors to camera assistants. They are using the skills they have learned in the classroom and applying them to a real-world situation. “We’re really excited to be working with a Hollywood trailblazer like Robert Townsend on a major motion picture,” said Professor Ed Talavera, chair of UM’s Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. “Our students are working in key positions on this feature film, while introducing younger students from the community to the wonderful world of filmmaking.”

Additionally, the School of Communication will provide equipment support to the production. Townsend recently visited with UM students and shared his experiences in filmmaking and becoming successful in Hollywood.

The overall mission of the project is to highlight and expose Miami as a place for future film production, provide avenues for employment, support local businesses, and promote non-violence to youth through alternatives to crime. Participating organizations and sponsors include Jamba Juice Company, the Miami Heat, Hall of Fame NBA player Isiah Thomas, University of Miami School of Communication Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Citi-Trends, South Florida Workforce, Connor Sport Court, Aveda, Doubletree Hotels, and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information on the Community Film Initiative, contact the SEOPW Community Redevelopment Agency at 305-679-6800 or the University of Miami School of Communication Cinema and Interactive Media Department at 305-284-4167.

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Hollywood filmmaker Robert Townsend (back row, second from right) joined School of Communication and City of Miami officials at a press conference, where he outlined a new film training program for UM and Overtown students.

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