Felicia Pride is an entertainment professional with more than fifteen years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Director of Independent Film at Tugg, a distribution platform where she acquired films for theatrical, non-theatrical, and educational distribution in addition to helping filmmakers devise hybrid and multi-window distribution strategies and release plans.
Prior, she ran a consultancy specializing in impact and engagement for films like Slavery by Another Name, Middle of Nowhere and Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth and has worked on film, television, and digital projects with organizations like Participant Media, PBS, and NPR. As a creator, Pride has written six books and is currently a Film Independent Screenwriting Fellow. Openended, a feature film that she wrote, is currently in development.
Pride is the founder of The Create Daily, a resource for content creators. She has riffed on storytelling, audience, and distribution around the country including SXSW, Film Independent Forum, AFI Docs and TEDx. POV had a chance to speak with Pride about building and sustaining a career as a creative.
POV: When did you start to write? What motivated you to become a writer?
Felicia Pride: I started writing pretty soon after I graduated from college. In college, I had an English professor who encouraged me to write and suggested I major in writing. But I didn’t know of anyone who made a living out of writing, so that prospect seemed unrealistic to me. But when I got into corporate America and found myself bored very quickly, I turned to writing as both a hobby and a way to better understand myself and the world around me. The first time I saw my byline on a newspaper article, I was hooked. I felt present, validated. People were reading my words and thoughts and there was a power in that.
POV: What made you shift from a writer to a media creator?
Pride: I don’t necessarily make a distinction between the two. While I started my writing career as a cultural journalist, my transition into an author, screenwriter and now as a producer is all connected to and extensions of this need to tell stories and to do so in the medium that serves the story and the audience. Along those lines, because I’ve worked and consult in marketing and engagement for media projects, I am able to view platforms as tools to reach different audiences where they are.
POV: What do you enjoy the most as a creative? What are the challenges?
Pride: I enjoy most getting stories that haunt me out of me and into the world. Of course, that process in itself is challenging. Whether I’m writing an essay or a book or a screenplay, there always seems to be a point where I question why I put myself through such glorious pain. It just hurts so good.
I actually wrote a piece called Why It’s So Hard to Create Daily, which I plan to expand into a book because I believe it’s important to understand our challenges in efforts to overcome them. Some of the biggest challenges stem from the business of creating. It can be challenging to make a living from creating alone, so many of us must supplement our incomes in various ways. And sometimes this need detracts and distracts from creating.
Another challenge is the fact that many of us aren’t as well versed in the business as we should be. Having worked in marketing and distribution in book publishing and now in film, I am a big proponent about creatives understanding how their work will be positioned for and reach audiences. Marketing and distribution make or break projects. They are often the mechanisms by which projects make their money back, and yet so many of us have the slightest clue or desire to understand these parts of the business. I can’t tell you how many filmmakers I’ve worked with and advised regarding release plans and distribution strategies who focused solely on getting the film made, but didn’t consider how that film would reach audiences. And it can be heartbreaking when after they’ve spent money and countless hours, their work won’t see the light of day in the way they hoped. Unfortunately, hope isn’t a plan. As creators, we have to take the lead in how our work will enter the marketplace. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we do it ourselves, although that is also a possibility, but that we are knowledgeable about our options and the players.
POV: What’s the story behind The Create Daily?
Pride: I started The Create Daily in 2012 because I saw so many of my fellow creators having trouble balancing creating, while also searching for opportunities and work to keep them afloat and help push their projects forward. I had this very grand vision of doing all these things – classes, online community, meetups – and I became overwhelmed to the point that I wasn’t doing anything. So I considered what would be the simplest way to get started. I decided to send one opportunity a day via email. Opportunity is defined pretty broadly – from jobs to grants to programs to fellowships. This simple idea allowed me to launch quickly, while also providing value. Over the years, I’ve returned to that grand vision, but keep going back to the simplicity of the one email a day. I hand curate every opportunity that I send, and still really enjoy doing so. My criteria is simple: If I wouldn’t apply for it, I don’t send it.
POV: What advice do you have for emerging storytellers?
Pride: This is advice that I continue to tell myself: Write/create, read/watch, share. Repeat. Learn the business. Keep pushing despite the forces that suggest otherwise.