Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 18, 2012.

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“Black Sun” follows 2 African American scientists as they study the 20May annular eclipse (Tokyo) and the 14Nov total eclipse (Cairns).

About Black Sun

“Black Sun,” a feature-length documentary, chronicles two celestial events: the May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse and the November 14, 2012 total solar eclipse. The movie follows two astrophysicists who study the solar atmosphere during eclipses:

  • Dr. Alphonse Sterling of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center stationed in Japan (a man who had early success in the US, but left his home country to further cultivate his wide-ranging interests).
  • Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi of the Physics & Space Sciences department at the Florida Institute of Technology (a scientist who beat all of the odds: poverty, homelessness, single-parent, poor early education, etc., to get to where he is today).

“Black Sun” explores how and why the two men became scientists, their opposing paths and personalities, their struggles as minorities in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field, and their noteworthy accomplishments today. We begin in Tokyo following Dr. Sterling as he observes the annular eclipse in preparation for when he travels to Cairns, Australia, to observe the total solar eclipse in November. 

Why Black Sun is Important 

America’s youth are falling farther and farther behind other countries in STEM education. In particular, minority youth as a group seem to be exponentially slipping away. Yet, studies indicate that well-placed resources, that include dedicated teachers, research experiences, mentoring, having the opportunity to meet and learn about the lives of scientists/mentors, can turn these dismal numbers around.

“Black Sun” is for a general audience, but it is being created for our future - America’s children - especially those whose scientific talents have traditionally not been nurtured - minority children. The two scientists featured in the film will discuss their childhoods, what attracted them to science, their challenges and their successes. It is this very personal unveiling that will engage audiences; they will see the scientists as interesting and “real” persons, in essence, audiences will see themselves. Young people, especially, will be able to visualize a life filled with important research and discovery, because the scientists are people that they know. The scientists exhibit different styles and personalities, dispelling the belief that only one type of person can become a  successful scientist. By following Drs. Oluseyi and Sterling as they research solar phenomena from the two eclipses, it is the filmmakers’ goal to inspire young people to such an extent that they will seek out their own incredible scientific journeys. 

The Ask

Think back to when someone told you that you were smart and you believed it.  Think back to when someone encouraged you. Now, imagine growing up without some of those much needed moments of encouragement, and being hungry, and sometimes being told that “you are not intellectually capable of handling this type of work,” regardless of your true potential. Your donation today will help us make a remarkable film that will counter such negative messages with positive ones meant to encourage and inspire young people. “Black Sun” challenges young Americans to dream of becoming a scientist. Your donation will help pay for the first leg of the documentary: the filmmakers’ travel to Tokyo to cover the May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse. 

Costs:

Airfares                              $4,500

Lodging                              $1,050

Food                                  $1,350

Local Transportation            $1,000

Production Costs                $2,100

Total                               $10,000

The Partnership with KZP Theatrical Productions: 

For "Black Sun," I am partnering with KZP Theatrical Productions' Kelvin Z. Phillips and Carla L. Jackson based in Austin, TX. KZP Theatrical Productions brings their feature film expertise and polish to this documentary. Our philosophy includes nurturing the next generation of filmmakers in parallel with what Drs. Oluseyi and Sterling are doing with their science students; therefore, we are including students and young people in our crew. 

Kelvin Z. Phillips Co-Director

Kelvin Z. Phillips is the writer and director of "A Swingin' Trio," a feature film that had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival and is currently playing at numerous independent film festivals around the country. He is the recipient of grants from Jerome Foundation, Art Matters, Inc., Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association, and Apparatus Productions (founded by Christine Vachon and Todd Haynes). He is also the recipient of the Laurel Productions and the Herbert Biegel Screenwriting Awards, and is an alumnus of the Guy Hanks/Marvin Miller Screenwriting Fellowship, established by Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Film Directing from Howard University and Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University. 

Carla L. Jackson Co-Producer

In addition to producing the feature film "A Swingin' Trio," Carla Jackson is a seasoned marketing and public relations professional with over 15 years of experience. Her expertise lies with her ability to create favorable business-to-consumer relationships for clients who have included Austin’s Pro Arts Collective, Paradigm Shift, the ACC Center for Public Policy, Nike, the California Wellness Foundation, the California African American Museum, On Your Feet: International Music and Dance Festival, and the Hip Hop International Dance Championship. Ms. Jackson served as Director of Marketing on award-winning Broadway and off-Broadway productions, including August Wilson’s Jitney and King Hedley. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Summa Cum Laude from Fordham University in New York; and her Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Management from Yale University.

FAQ

  • Though the morning of the eclipse was cloudy, the Sun could be seen off and on through holes in the clouds. Dr. Sterling was able to capture a few good images of the 'ring of fire' part of the eclipse.

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    Updates about the film’s progress and our warm-as-the-sun thank you!

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    Signed “Black Sun” poster, and the gifts listed above

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    DVD of "Hubble's Diverse Universe" (www.HDUmovie.com): 'Nine African American and Hispanic American astrophysicists, One Iconic Telescope.' Public thank you on Facebook and Twitter, and the gifts listed above

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    A PRIVATE SCREENING and discussion with the filmmakers at your school, organization, or private event (travel & accommodation not included and would be extra). This level also includes all of the gifts listed above

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