LATRICE STRONG: An Interview with Creator of “Archives of the Heart” Heating Up Online

For the past several years, DC has been busting through the seems with aspiring filmmakers creating web series content and building audiences far and wide. Creators with content such and Anthony Anderson’s “Anacostia,” Mike Brook’s “Circle Of Love,” Shanovia McKenzie’ “District Heat” and Hanibal Chancellor’s “Transitions” have all taken the independent route with great success. Add to that list of storytellers LaTrice Strong, a Washington, DC native and Morgan State University graduate who created a series entitled Archives Of The Heart.

Under her company A LATRICE Productions, Archives Of The Heart is an eight-episode independent soap opera series that takes the audience on an emotional journey by chronicling the lives of 10 people as they confront issues that are closely related to the heart, while shedding light on realistic imagery and subject matters that all persons of any age, race, or ethnicity can relate to.

What is your name?
My name is LaTrice Amanda.

Where are you from?
I am from Washington DC.

What made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in filmmaking?
I first realized that I wanted to pursue a career in filmmaking when I had the opportunity to audition for a Robert Townsend film at the Howard University Blackburn Center. I was about 8 or 9 years old. I can remember vividly that I made it through several rounds of the audition process. There was a moment where they had all of the kids auditioning lined up on a stage in a horizontal line. Robert Townsend was there and he asked each kid to sing a song. Some kids were stopped in the middle of their songs then he would go on to the next child. When it was my turn to sing, I singed a verse from Jesus Loves me. Afterwards he smiled and thanked me. At that very moment I knew that I wanted into this business.

There seems to be an emergence of black filmmakers in the DC area who are creating web series content. Where and where did you start out in film?
I started my career in Washington DC. My first real start was actually in theater, I trained professionally at the Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts in Washington DC, followed by taking a few private lessons from a variety of different acting coaches During that time I developed an interest in film. I will never forget my acting coach at the time Melissa Taylor who basically challenged me to want to do more in the industry.

At one of our lessons she basically said, there are very few persons of color and women of color who are in positions to green light their own projects. Those words pretty much changed my desires in regard to my contribution into the industry. I wanted to not only be an actress but wanted to create my own content and tell stories that are representative of real life experiences. I believed at that moment that I could be one of those persons that could green light projects.

LaTriceNEUTRALOn your current “Archives of the Heart” web series, what was the genesis for the project initially? Is it something you’ve been thinking about for a long time? Was the idea always eventually to make the web series into a feature? Why go down the route of a web series?
Archives of the Heart has been very dear to my heart for quite some time, like six years in the making, to be completely honest. Six years ago I had auditions for AOTH and actually started pre – production. Life had a different plan, Archives was not quite ready to be implemented. During that time I developed my craft as a writer and received my Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Learning the tools that made me a stronger screenwriter. I also became a mom to a little boy name Honor in 2011. Over that period of time my original cast members became family. They really encouraged me and believed so much in the vision of Archives of the Heart. Although Archives of the Heart is a new media project that is available on the Internet, I don’t consider Archives to be a web series. AOTH is an independent soap opera. AOTH is written in true Soap Opera fashion, implementing a variety of different character’s and dramatic storylines.

My long-term goal is to bring AOTH to a network. I am an independent artist, I decided to go that route, because at this very moment I have control over my own content and we are blessed to have the ability to upload content via- digital platforms and release it into the universe.

So what kind of pre production went into “Archives of the Heart”?
Many sleepless nights, and early mornings. Plenty of re-writes, casting, scouting locations, and meeting with production team members.

So, what’s the meaning behind the name “Archives of the Heart”?
It’s simple – Archives of the Hearts tells stories that are related to the heart. It’s very important to me to tell stories that are universal in nature. The beauty about AOTH is that our characters are real. Their circumstances in life at times can be very messy but that’s life nothing in life is perfect. We all may know someone who may be struggling with a secret in life, someone who wants to live life without judgment from others, or we may have that  loved one who is facing divorce or trying to find balance in their life.

I am assuming that the production part of was basically all taken care of by you. There’s an art to calling in favors and knowing when to shell out the big bucks. A lot of our readers are web series creators. For them, could you explain how you went about producing your series? Any real tips?
Archives of the Heart is not a one-woman show. It took real teamwork. Bryan Lyles is the series Cinematographer and the series Director. He and I worked closely with implementing my vision that I had for the  project. Stephan Azor captured amazing still images of our actors on set and basically uploaded all of the videos to our website and social media pages. Julius Foster also assisted with some producing on some of the episodes. I also worked with an amazing Make up Artist that was on set. In regard to offering tips or advice to other content creators, nurture the relationships that you have. Always be willing to grow and network with others in the industry.

What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced making the film, and how did you overcome it?
Stay dedicated and don ‘t give up. Things are going to go totally wrong, strategize and re group. Like I mentioned  earlier, AOTH has been a few years in the making but I did not give up and I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. Most importantly flexibility is needed, it’s a must. I had to literally rewrite a few scenes right on set because of an unfortunate circumstance with an actor came about and he was not able to be on set, and we were like slated to film the scene at that very moment.  (more…)