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Danielle's not the right colour to be Caribbean, but she's not very good at being Chinese. This doc dissects colour, race and culture.
Danielle's not the right colour to be Caribbean, but she's not very good at being Chinese. This doc dissects colour, race and culture.
86 backers pledged CA$ 9,625 to help bring this project to life.

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CA$ 9,625

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But You’re Not Black, a short documentary, shines a light on how society's conceptions of culture and heritage are often perceived based entirely on someone’s visible race — and the impact that can have on an individual's sense of identity. This film challenges and redefines the correlation between race, skin colour and culture through its subject Danielle.

Hi, my name is Danielle. I'm a descendant of Chinese-Caribbean parents, born and raised in Toronto. I've made the world a little funnier with my work on various stand-up shows (Crimson Wave, Dawn Patrol) and on the Second City Mainstage as an understudy. I've guest co-hosted the popular Royal Canadian Movie Podcast, making it on to the CBC Radio Podcast Playlist. I usually have a quick, dry comeback for any question or heckler that comes my way, except one. I find it difficult to answer, "What's your background?" I answer it with extreme apprehension, because sometimes they're surprised and other times they say, “But you’re not Black.” Wondering if this experience is unique to me, I'll travel to Trinidad to visit family, make dumplings with contemporaries, get ready for Carnival, and consult experts and academics to get to the root of my cultural dilemma.

Archival photos. Left to right: Danielle's great aunt in Trinidad, archival family letter, Danielle's grandmother's passport.
Archival photos. Left to right: Danielle's great aunt in Trinidad, archival family letter, Danielle's grandmother's passport.

After years of crying into her takeout, Danielle wrote But You're Not Black as a commentary on her trials and tribulations growing up Chinese-West Indian in Toronto. Danielle had her first success behind the camera in 2017. Her 8-minute documentary by the same title was an Official Selection of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival as part of their "Been Here So Long" program for young Asian-Canadian filmmakers. 

From this experience, Danielle was driven to create an expanded 25-minute version of But You're Not Black. This expansion will allow Danielle and the creative team to widen the scope of the research, interview more subjects, add different shooting locations, including Trinidad, and broaden the subject matter of the film. With support from Breakthroughs Film Festival and Red Square Motion, Danielle is stepping behind the camera again and the new film will premiere at the Breakthroughs Film Festival in June 2019.

Film poster for 8-minute version from the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival in 2017.
Film poster for 8-minute version from the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival in 2017.

Our total budget is $45,224. We have been very fortunate to receive support from the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Breakthroughs Film Festival and Red Square Motion. But we still have a long way to go!

Your donations will go towards post-production editor fees, equipment, insurance, transportation, festival submissions and more. My goal is to pay our key creatives and amazing crew who have each put in hundreds of hours of work already. They deferred their payments for over a year and a half to ensure that we covered our production costs. They are bringing this wonderful story to life! Here's a handy-dandy chart to explain all this visually:

And of course, thanks to our friends and supporting organizations for the grants and in-kind donations, including:

When you donate, not only do you get the joy of contributing to this amazing project, but you can receive some pretty awesome perks and we have some surprises for our donors along the way. We want to thank Le Femme Strong, Nicey's Takeout & Eatery, Staples store #19, Factory Theatre and The Second City for their support in this area. 

While we have many perks for our supporters, we want to give a special shout-out to Lisa Ayow for creating our featured donor perk, a limited-edition art print.

Lisa Ayow Biography

With a childhood spent chasing rabbits and labouring in her parents’ industrial printshop in Toronto, is it any wonder that Lisa Ayow pursued art with that same passion for the curious? She was selected to be Artist in Residence for West Baffin Eskimo Co-op Print Studio in 1996. A three-month commitment turned into three years living and working in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. She has printed in print studios in Toronto, Vancouver, Cape Dorset and Winnipeg. Lisa Ayow works in painting, drawing and printmaking. lisaayow.com 

Colour is not homogeneous. The way we behave and live our lives is deeply influenced by our cultural background. A cultural background is not synonymous with a skin colour. A particular skin colour is not necessarily indicative of any particular country. And particular races are not confined to their countries. If more people understood that we are more than our colour, they would be less likely to make sweeping generalizations or stereotypes.

We tend to associate certain skin colours with certain places, so when I tell people my story, it creates some cognitive dissonance. Telling people I was Chinese-Trinidadian often sparked the responses, "But you're not Black" or "You don't look mixed at all." 

After years of people telling you that you're the wrong colour, you start to believe you are. We don't realize repeating our simple, non-malicious assumptions over and over again can have a negative affect on someone. I realized that the more questions I fielded, the less confidently I answered, "What's your background?" 

  • Danielle will stop crying into her takeout. 
  • Because you believe in the message of inclusivity, empathy and diversity.
  • Because you believe in women and equality in filmmaking. Looking at the top-grossing films of the past decade, researchers found that only 4% of directors were women
  • Because you want stories of diversity told by people of colour in North America. The same study found that, within that 4% of directors, only 4 were Black women, 3 were Asian women and 1 was a Latina woman. 
  • Because you want to support emerging artists. Starting out is tough! 
  • Because you want a perk! 

The creative team of But You're Not Black is predominantly composed of women.

From left to right, Danielle Ayow (Writer, Producer), Becky Shrimpton (Story Editor), Elana Dunkelman (Production Assistant), Carolyn Turgeon (Key Researcher), Emma Ward (Producer)
From left to right, Danielle Ayow (Writer, Producer), Becky Shrimpton (Story Editor), Elana Dunkelman (Production Assistant), Carolyn Turgeon (Key Researcher), Emma Ward (Producer)

Danielle Ayow (Director/Writer/Producer) 

Danielle is an actor/comic. She wrote and directed the documentary "But You’re Not Black" (8-minute version), which was an official selection of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival and is the driving force behind this expansion. In 2017, she understudied on The Second City Mainstage here in Toronto. She is one of the writers of the play "Women of the Klondike." She shouldn't eat gluten, but she does and it hurts later. 

Twitter/Instagram: @daniayow 
danielleayow.com   

Emma Ward (Producer)

Emma is an Arts Administrator and holds a degree in History and Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. She went on to obtain a Masters of Museum Studies and Certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management. You can find her on the marketing committee of the Reel Asian International Film Festival and working for Cultural Hotspot, a city-run community arts initiative.

Becky Shrimpton (Story Editor)

Becky has a BFA from the University of British Columbia. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Staircase Theatre and co-hosts The Royal Canadian Movie Podcast. As a voice actor, she's appeared in hundreds of commercials and has roles in Five Nights at Freddy's, Fireman Sam, and Doki. 

Twitter: @LeShrimpton
beckyshrimpton.com
rcmpodcast.com

Carolyn Turgeon (Key Researcher)

Carolyn studied journalism at Ryerson University and has gone on to edit and write for major national print and online publications. Her interest in film production led her to doing marketing for independent company Wreckoning Productions and co-producing their 2017 48 Film Project entry, "Offbeat."  

Twitter: @CATurgeon

Elana Dunkelman (Production Assistant) 

Elana is an actor and cinematographer. She graduated from Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Program (DOME) and she also holds a BFA in Theatre from Concordia University. Immediately upon graduation, Elana worked with several independent theatre companies around Montreal. Elana has also been busy voicing both national and local radio and television spots in both Toronto and Montreal.

Did you know there are other ways to contributing other than financially — and we'll still adore you?

You can share our campaign online and tell your friends and family about us. And keep updated on our project by following us on social media:

Like and follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/ButYoureNotBlk
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/ButYoureNotBlk
Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/butyourenotblk 

Make sure to use #butyourenotblack on all three sites. And of course, mark your calendars for the premiere of But You're Not Black at the 2019 Breakthroughs Film Festival in June.

Want to get in touch? You can reach us at butyourenotblack@gmail.com.

Risks and challenges

We have a confirmed premiere date in June 2019. Our only obstacle is financial. Reaching our goal will help us with equipment, labour and so much more, which will affect the overall quality of the film. We have a dedicated crew and very eager participants. We are committed to finishing the film.

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Funding period

- (44 days)