Award Winning Filmmaker, Matthew Cherry Launches Campaign for Hair Love
There have been numerous viral videos of black fathers capturing adorable moments bonding with their daughters over hair. Specifically, the video of Darrell L Hines II captured the hearts of many when he struggled to put his daughter’s hair in a ponytail. This is the same video that inspired Matthew Cherry to want to create short film, Hair Love.
Filmmaker Matthew Cherry has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his new animated short film, Hair Love.
Hair Love, is a 5 minute animated short film that centers around the relationship between an African-American father, Stephen, his daughter, Zuri, and her hair. Despite having long locks, Stephen was use to his wife doing his daughter's hair. So when she is unavailable right before a big event, Stephen will have to figure out, on his own, how to do Zuri’s hair. While this does sound simple enough, we soon come to find that Zuri's hair has a mind of its own.
This story was created with efforts to combat lack of representation of African Americans/black people in mainstream animated projects and also wanting to promote the ideology of hair love.
From the characters on screen to the team working behind the scenes, Cherry is making the effort to accurately represent black people in this short film.
“This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color.” states Cherry. “I've been thinking about this project for couple of years now, but it wasn't until I started coming across a lot of viral videos online of black fathers interacting with their sons and daughters that I finally had the confidence to try and make this a real thing.”
He adds, “You don’t see the black family dynamic that often in mainstream animated projects. I hope that this film will help change that.”
Cherry brought together a team of black creatives that included Author, illustrator, and filmmaker, Vashtie Harrison, who lead in the artistic direction of character illustrations. They worked together to create various images of the black family. For example, in styling the father’s hair, they wanted to debunk the connotation that freedom and expression of black hair is only for black girls and women.
Chicago native, Matthew A. Cherry, is a former NFL wide receiver turned filmmaker who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens. In 2007, he retired and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment landing work as a production assistant on over 40 commercials and as an assistant director for over 20 music videos. Cherry received his first credit in 2008 when directed a music video for R&B artist Terry Dexter. Since then he has gone on to direct music videos for Michelle Williams featuring Beyonce & Kelly Rowland, Tweet, Jazmine Sullivan, Lalah Hathaway, Kindred The Family Soul, Snoop Dogg, The Foreign Exchange, Bilal, N'Dambi, Maysa Leak, Dwele, Najee, K’Jon and Take 6.
In addition to directing music videos, Cherry directed a short film entitled This Time, starring Reagan Gomez-Preston & Terri J. Vaughn, and recently released a new short film entitled Forward which premiered on Ebony.com. He also writes & directs web series like the award winning series Almost 30 and Almost Home.
Cherry is also a feature filmmaker and his first feature film The Last Fall starred Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie, Vanessa Bell Calloway Keith David, Harry Lennix and Darrin Dewitt Henson. The Last Fall made its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival and received awards at the African American Film Festival (ABFF) for Best Screenplay and Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAFF) for the HBO Best Feature Film Award. After a limited theatrical release The Last Fall was acquired by Image Entertainment in Fall 2012 and made its television premiere on BET in December 2012 and is currently streaming on Netflix and Hulu.
Cherry's latest feature film 9 Rides premiered at SXSW 2016 in the Narrative Spotlight category and stars Dorian Missick, Omar Dorsey, Robinne Lee, Xosha Roquemore, Amin Joseph, Skye P. Marshall, Thomas Q. Jones, and Tracie Thoms. The film is about an Uber driver who gets life-changing news on New Year's Eve.
Cherry plans to utilize a state of the art, computer animated style reminiscent of Pixar-hits like Toy Story and Finding Nemo with Hair Love. 3D-artist Jason Marino will co-direct the film with Cherry who also wrote the screenplay. Illustrator Vashti Harrison created the initial 2D Character Designs.
The team launched their Kickstarter campaign on Monday, July 10th. Thanks to the tremendous support, they met their first milestone of reaching their initial goal of $75K within six days.
“The response has been fantastic. People are sharing the link and then sharing their own curly hair stories with their dads or even with their kids,” shares Cherry. “It’s wonderful to see this story connecting with people. It’s also incredible that we’re growing love and pride for natural curly hair and showing love to black fathers who don't usually get a lot of love in mainstream media.”
“We want to keep it going,” Cherry adds. “Our goal was set for $75K but now that we hit our initial goal we have our sights set on $200K. The more we raise, the better quality film we can deliver.
The Hair Love Kickstarter campaign will close on Wednesday, August 9th at 8p PST.
Images courtesy of HAIR LOVE character designer, Vashti Harrison
Article by Chinazo Enigwe
Edited by Samantha Nieves