BRANDY MERRIWEATHER FLIPS THE “SCRIPT” FOR CAMPUS MOVIE FEST 2020 Friday 10 April, 2020

I am elated to share this upcoming interview I did with Clark Atlanta University Business Student, Brandy Merriweather on an amazing project she created with Campus Movie Fest. Clark Atlanta University is also my alma mater, which I got my degree in Mass Media Communications, so learning of her short film “SCRIPT” made me Panther Proud!

Brandy Merriweather, Clark Atlanta Student Publicist Produces 5 Minute Short Film To ‘Flip The Script’ On How Her Peers Grieve and View Death.

Brandy’s film “SCRIPT” took home the local win for Atlanta University Center in the Campus Movie Fest (CMF), the world’s largest student film festival. Campus Movie Fest is a short film competition where college students across the United States have exactly one week to complete a five-minute film. 

Brandy Merriweather, is a International Business Major (at the illustrious Clark Atlanta University), Senior Publicist of the Merriweather Company, Jr. Publicist at One/35 Agency and freelance production assistant from the Greater Atlanta Area.

I actually know Brandy from working with her several times on a few movie and television show press events and outings in Atlanta. She is an amazing Jr. Publicist at One/35th Agency and her accolades are impeccable for someone who is still in undergrad. Brandy’s extensive resume includes being a PA to Phaedra Parks/Real Housewives of Atlanta, On-Site Publicist for Lifetime’s The Rap Game Media/Press Table Episodes, Casting Assist. for VH1 Extras, Set Coordinator for VH1’s Family Grand Hustle, VIP PA for MTV’s WildNOut, Talent PA for Hot One’s the Game Show, Talent Manger for Essence/ The Ayer Agency, PA for The Vanity Group ATL, Set & Audience Coordinator for Ms. Universe Pageant 2019, and Contestant Department PA for ABC’s newest gameshow DON’T and much more! She is the CEO of BStarPR, a millennial and Generation Z creator-focused agency. She is the college marketing representative’s for one of the fastest growing social media platforms, Tik Tok! What a resume, as Brandy is still in college!

She makes me proud, not only as a fellow CAU matriculate, but of her talent in Mass Media Arts! She reminds me of myself with the creativity she produced around her short film SCRIPT. Brandy Merriweather wrote, produced, filmed and directed this all on her own so please watch her 5 min short film SCRIPT and follow up with my interview with her.

WATCH ‘SCRIPT’

ABOUT SCRIPT
As tragedy hits close to the Clark Atlanta campus, SCRIPT is the story of how student Brandy Merriweather is exposed to the unfortunate reactions of the modernized technology filled community. With the death of a fellow peer and panther, Alexandria Cranford; Brandy tells the story of how she is mourning not only about Alexandria’s absence, but how those around look at death through a different lens.

Situations get heated after CCS reporters enter campus less than a few days after this unforeseen tragedy. Between the lack of news coverage in regards to Alexandria’s personal legacy, the spotlight on the suspects, and the communities’ infatuation with the variety of crime scene possibilities; Brandy comes closer to seeing just what she had been praying for.

Q&A with Brandy Merriweather

What year are you at Clark Atlanta University?

Brandy: This is my junior year and I am majoring in  International Business Administration and a Minor in Marketing and Public Relations.

Ok I didn’t know you were majoring in International Business Administration. I know you in the PR world as I have personally worked with you on a few tv and film projects in Atlanta so interesting to know! How did you get into Public Relations?

Brandy: Yes funny thing is I have no classes in the Mass Media building at all. I actually wanted to be an attorney, so that’s why I am pursuing the business degree. In middle school I had a babysitting company, in which I would take care of attorneys children. Babysitting lead me into the world of PR with celebrities and red carpets. I used to babysit Ms.P (Phaedra Parks/Real Housewives of Atlanta) children when I was in high school. During my sophomore through senior years of high school, I would watch Phaedra Parks’ children while Real Housewives of Atlanta was in production. It was always in the summers, so I never had to miss school. The years of being Ms.P’s personal babysitter, I got a chance to learn about production by being on set and it bought me in the world of television and film at a very young age so it became more than just a babysitting gig.

Do you think the babysitting opportunity with Phaedra Parks opened the doors for you to get interested in media?

Brandy: Well since I was a child, I’ve always had the personality to talk to people. I don’t meet strangers. With my confidence as well, it just naturally made me a people person. It worked in my favor. I could always pitch ideas. My mother always used to tell me I could sell a roll of tissue paper. Even prior to meeting Ms.P, I was in high school doing media related activities. I got a job at a tv production class at my school, and also was the PR Manager for Atlanta Teen Magazine. I left that class learning everything about pitching, editing and business, and the teacher from that class is still in my life today! That opportunity originally sparked my interested in media.

Your resume is very impressive for someone who is still an undergrad at CAU. How did you get these amazing opportunities while still going to school?

Brandy: I actually got a great opportunity at Fresh Empire and the marketing manager, Rachel Jackson, took me under her wing. I was the ambassador lead for a campaign with upcoming rappers and that’s where I truly learned more about PR and branding. One/35th Agency gave me more responsibility and it helped that I was a millennial on the team to give insights on the demographic during conference calls to attract the college demographic.

This lead me to do less tv production and more event production and PR. Working with One/35th Agency gave me more film projects and talent responsibilities with actors and actresses. I was able to learn more about set visits and work with members of the media and journalist like yourself!

So you were destined to be in media that is wonderful. Can you tell me why you chose to attend Clark Atlanta University (CAU)? 

Brandy:  Clark Atlanta University chose me. My goal was to go to Georgia Tech. In high school, I was the president and VP at a predominantly white private school. I eventually transitioned from a private to a public school. I did get accepted into Georgia Tech for their liberal arts program, but my GPA was not up to their standards and it was a concern. In order for me to get any financial aid, I had to go to another university to raise my GPA up for one year to catch up academically to attend Georgia Tech the following year. Clark Atlanta University (CAU) was on my list of schools to go to, but it wasn’t my top choice. Rachel Jackson, my mentor at Fresh Empire inspired me to go to CAU. I reached out to Phaedra Parks, and she made a last minute phone call to get me enrolled into Clark Atlanta University the next day.

So let’s get into your short film SCRIPT. Your film is heavily based off the real life tragedy about the death of former Clark Atlanta University student, Alexis Crawford. It’s a heartbreaking modern crime and I am sure being a current college student with all of the media focusing on that story when happen must of been overwhelming. What were your feelings when the news broke out?

Brandy:  The climate on campus when the news broke out was concerning for me. Initially it felt very eerie to me, like a ball in the pit of my stomach and almost as if it could of been me. The story was curated at first was that she went missing right after homecoming. Many of us students on campus speculated she was kidnapped for sex trafficking, especially in Atlanta where the rate for that is high. We were all praying and hoping to find her safe, all the while there were more alert for the safety for us students on campus as well due to her being missing.

When the news came out that she was murdered, I felt super uneasy and I cried. I immediately had to have a talk with my own roommate. She is a freshman and I am junior, so we aren’t close, but Alexis’ death taught us  to communicate better for our own safety. It also started to bring a sense of awareness overall to the CAU campus for everyone to communicate better with their living mates.

How did Alexis Crawford’s story inspire you to create the SCRIPT? 

Brandy:  Just by watching everyone’s reaction was extremely disappointing on campus as the news was covering it. Conspiracies were everywhere. No one was asking about Alexis’ character, the topic of discussion was always about how she died. None of the stories that was being covered in mass media was about who she was, it was all about her tragedy!

Alexis had ten siblings, but none of the articles talked about that at all. It was never mentioned about Alexis’ dreams or her goals while going to college. None of the publications tried to highlight her in that light, as it was always spun in tragedy. As a buddng publicist, I knew it wasn’t right how the news continued to spin her story. I even went off on a cameraman filming on Clark Atlanta University’s campus because he was filming B-roll of the students but not asking any personal question about Alexis Crawford. He just wanted backdrop for the next news story and I had enough.

Eliana Cummings plays Brandy Merriweather in short film SCRIPT (Brandy said Eliana acted her out better than herself and gave her producer credit in for the film).

I was shocked at the students reactions around me the most. Students were turning it into a social media popularity contest on who got the most likes from their comments on certain gossip blogs. Alexis story was all about gossip, all about getting clout around her story. Watching that energy alone from the students shocked me and exactly the reason why script was created.

Did you know Alexis Crawford before she passed? 

Brandy:  I only saw her on campus briefly but I didn’t know her personally. I knew she was a senior and a science major. I do have a special memory with her as we’ve once crossed paths on The Promenade (Clark Atlanta’s main campus walking strip). We shared a moment going to class in the same direction, a very small interaction but she was special because she spoke to me as we were both rushing to class, whereas most people are too busy to speak. The students are usually walking to class with headphones on in their own world. I will always be touched by that small connection we had.

Alexis Crawford’s story inspired you to independently create a film to submit to CAMPUS MOVIE FEST. What made you decide to enter the Campus Movie Fest and submit such a deep and profound short film around her story? 

Brandy:  I wanted to put a stamp into something that needed a change. How do I make that change? I put myself in the shoes as if Alexis’ situation happened to me, how will people treat or talk about me? What would I want the world to know?

I signed up for the Campus Movie Fest because I felt I was happy where I was going career wise and my extensive resume growing, but my grades were still mediocre. I told God I wold slow down and focus on school work and studies this semester to be a better college student. I noticed I wasn’t doing enough campus activities, I stopped being involved and I didn’t even go to homecoming. Campus Movie Fest was something I saw I could get involved with, as I have a media skill set and production skillset outside of my PR career. I knew I could produce a five minute project.

Originally I was going to collaborate with a fellow college student who was also a junior that worked at CAU TV to submit a project together. The plan was to use my college refund money along with my PR gigs to help self-fund the project and I would be the executive producer. I didn’t want to be limited financially because we were college students. There was a lack of communication between myself and the and the guy who said I was taking it “too seriously”,  so I decided to go completely solo with my Campus Movie Fest project. This almost discouraged me but I persevered.

I had to come up with a brand new idea and “Script” within five days. SCRIPT was born because I was using my grief for Alexis Crawford’s death to write her “Script“.  It was originally going to be titled “Based On a True Story”, but I had to alter it because I wasn’t close to Alexis nor her family members to make such a statement. I wrote SCRIPT from my exact point of view on what stood out to me on campus around her story and the reactions I was not please with.

I love that you took it upon yourself to fund everything yourself. Was this very expensive to do at the last minute? 

Brandy:  No. I used my resources around campus. The camera used was my own camera to film SCRIPT. Every scene was shot on the campus of Clark Atlanta University. The only funding I had to come out of pocket for were for the actors. I paid everyone who is in the film. It wasn’t a lot, even if was just $20 for some of the actors I made it my point to make sure I paid them.

I even found random students to participate as actresses in the film. Fun Fact: The cafeteria scene was two random students who did improv on the spot because my previous actors cancelled last minute. The irony of it all was they were both freshman, and one of them was a theater major so doing the scene helped solidify her major!

What is the main message you want people to get after reviewing the SCRIPT?

Brandy: I would love people to get a change of consciousness. I did the press for Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace premiere in Atlanta and Tyler Perry himself said, ‘I want people to be triggered by certain phrases and see themselves outside this film. Even if it triggers a negative response because it still brings awareness outside of a film.’

I was inspired by his statement as I feel the same. I want people to see this film and see how people are when it comes to death. I didn’t make this to bash college students, but I do want to show the viewer how society can lack human empathy around tragedy. SCRIPT highlights how the students are too busy worry about clout and social media hype than human compassion. This film will also expose how we all subconsciously dehumanize African American youth death.

My mother’s generation was more about compassion, but also they talked about funeral arrangements and less justice for youth deaths. Currently Millenials and Gen Z will talk about justice but its overkill.  It seems we are getting desensitized about justice and death overall. Nipsey Hussle death seemed like it changed that dynamic, but maybe only because he was a celebrity. After watching SCRIPT, I cant tell people how to grieve, but at least show them HOW they’ve grieved and begin the change from there. Hopefully the next generation wont have such a lack of empathy around death.

What will you do with the funds if you win the CAMPUS MOVIE FEST?

Brandy: My main goal for creating the SCRIPT was to leave a legacy for Alexis Crawford, even if its a small legacy. :: tearing up as she continues:: I reached out to her sister when I finished the SCRIPT and got her blessing for Campus Movie Fest. I want to first find a place at Clark Atlanta University’s science lab and memorialize her. After that, my goal is to research an executive producer to match with me financially to create an actual story and the aftermath of her life.

Brandi Merriweather has won two awards with Campus Movie Fest, the Jury Award & Campus Finalist for the State of GA! She is eligible to win the big prize of $15,000k in the Social Justice Category sponsored by Disney PLUS and Panasonic.

Jury Awards are given to the top 4 movies that succeed in content, technical proficiency, and overall quality. These films can compete for national top honors at CMF Terminus in Hollywood, California from June 25th-27th, 2020. This year’s competition sponsors and judges will be executives from Panasonic, Disney+, The Walt Disney Company and The Elfenworks Foundation.

 To view CMF Atlanta University Center Jury Award Winning short film click here
For more information on Campus Movie Fest go to www.campusmoviefest.com and Follow @ScriptAUC on Instagram and Facebook

Congratulate Brandy on her Jury Award win and follow her along her journey to win the ultimate prize of $15k in the Social Justice Category at Campus Movie Fest!

About the Blogger - Kiwi the Beauty


Kiwi is the free spirited blogger and content creator of KiwiTheBeauty.com. As a digital influencer, she produces creative inspiration around beauty, lifestyle, media and travel leisure. Her life mantra is to make manifesting fun! When she’s not blogging, she is eating trendy hipster food, carrying crystals, making it rain at her local farmer's market and binge brunching. Follow her on her blog and social media at kiwithebeauty.com + @kiwithebeauty


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