Former VH1 and Logo Executive Vice President Talks Her New Film, “The Bill”

Have you ever experienced going out to dinner with a few friends (maybe for a birthday) and everything is going well, you’re catching up with an old friend, laughing, munching on your catfish and Mac& cheese, pouring your fourth margarita pitcher, then things get tense when the bill arrives?

All of a sudden half of your friends turn into accountants while others come up with what sounds like  a crowdfunding pitch to cover their portion of the bill. In fact, this experience has become so common that it’s the story line for the short comedy film,The Bill.”

Former Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Vh1 and Logo, Caralene Robinson, brilliantly depicted that exact horror after a group dinner.

“The Bill”  features an eclectic group of friends, some from college, law school, the gym, and church. They all gather for a birthday dinner and  what was supposed to be a joyous celebration quickly turns sour when the bill arrives. “The Bill” comedically celebrates friends from all walks of life, as they celebrate an experience that is all too common. Deborah Riley Draper and Crystal Whaley served as producers on the project.

“I wanted to try this for myself,” said Robinson.She has always been interested in telling the stories of different black experience .

Robinson was the former Vice President of Vh1 and Logo, but left in 2017 to pursue filmmaking.

She wanted to showcase the nuances within black people’s experience via filmmaking. After traveling for about 20 years, Robinson saw the need for more accurate depictions of black lives in TV and film.

“You don’t realize how one dimensional Americans appear until you travel outside of the country,”she said.

In 2011, Robinson partnered with Deborah Riley Draper and created the production company, Coffee Bluff. Through the company, they both dedicated their time to produce documentaries that tells multifaceted stories. Like, "Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution", which is currently being adapted into a feature, and "Olympic Pride, American Prejudice" which was nominated for a 2017 NAACP Image Award.

Taking up a new challenge, Robinson decided to try her hand at comedy. Using something so simple yet relatable, “The Bill” perfectly captures the funny in everyday human experiences. Only taking a little over a week, Caralene wrote and filmed “The Bill” making it her directorial debut. It later was accepted into many film festivals like American Black Film Festival and San Francisco Indie Fest and is now distributed by Amazon.

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This career shift was all new to Robinson. She didn’t have any formal training in screenwriting or directing, so she researched some classes for her to join. She said there were moments of self-doubt when it came to  whether or not she could make a fulfilling career as a director. It was  then she realized how important her support system was. She had close friends and family reminding her of the major strides she’s made that resulted from her courageous life changing decision. She also got her inspiration from other women who are leaders and influencers behind the scenes in media. Which includes women who have been fearless and unapologetically black-like Ava Duvernay and Angela Rye, “I admire those women as well because they use their voices loudly and unequivocally”. She recognizes the importance in these women using their platform to bring awareness to social injustices that affects other women’s lives daily. In return, she’s reminded the importance of her own work and what it represents, “Once I created space for myself, then I create space for others”.

Now, Robinson is working on a web series focusing on the trans experience through a racial and socioeconomic filter, based during Hurricane Katrina.

To purchase “The Bill” click here .

Written by Chinazo Enigwe

Edited by Sofiya Ballin