Part four in our series “Ask the Creator”. Diahnna Nicole Baxter is an Emmy Award winning actor / writer / producer based out of Los Angeles. Currently, she is running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for her short film “Cowboy’s Girl”. The story of the film is based on Diahnna’s own relationship with her estranged father. We talked with her about her inspiration for the project, how she heard about crowdfunding for the first time, and how she prepared for the campaign.
CAPITAL C: Hi Diahnna! Before we talk about your short film, could you please tell us about your background in film?
Diahnna: I first got involved in film as an actress and writer. I started off in NYC and did a lot of Off-Broadway shows. I came to Los Angeles with one of them and stayed because I thought there would be more work. I soon realized there was more work but it didn’t mean quality roles, especially for a black actress. So I decided to take my career in my own hands. I teamed up with a director and we created Satacracy 88, a sci-fi, choose your own adventure thriller. We co-wrote it together and released it on the web. This was in 2006 – pre social media landscape except Myspace. The series ended up being a hit and we won the first Emmy Award for broadband content. You can still check out the series on Hulu! Unfortunately you can’t choose the ending anymore but its still fun sci-fi. Cowboy’s Girl is my first film and I have a feature about Billie Holiday in development now as well.
CAPITAL C: How did you come up with the idea for “Cowboy’s Girl” and what is it all about?
Diahnna: Cowboy’s Girl is inspired by my own relationship with my father. He isn’t an actual Cowboy, nor does he know much about them, but he reinvents himself every few years and he chose to rename himself and assume the identity, Cowboy.
A few years ago, I went to Las Vegas to visit my father for what I thought would be the last time. Years of drug addiction had taken a toll on his body and he was told he didn’t have much time following his recent heart attack.
Over the years, family secrets began to surface. There was whispering and there were doubts about whether he was my biological father. He himself denied me more than once (although he took it back repeatedly). Armed with a DNA test, this was my last chance to find out the truth – and perhaps knowing the truth would set me free.
Cowboy’s girl is inspired by this particular encounter. It re-examines identity, family, forgiveness, and acceptance.
CAPITAL C: Have you cast anyone yet for the role of Cowboy?
Diahnna: Yes! We just signed on screen legend Tony Todd! I am so excited about this because he’s one of the rare actors who are capable of embracing the unique blend of brutality, vulnerability, instability and charisma that this character demands. Most people know him as “Candyman” and for his horror films. I have had the opportunity to see other work from him on stage and he is just a powerful actor no matter the genre. He is going to breathe life into the character and we are honored.
CAPITAL C: Why did you choose crowdfunding over any other form of funding your movie? How did you hear about it the first time?
Diahnna: I chose crowdfunding for Cowboy’s Girl because I wanted to reach an audience that could relate to the film. The universal message of children without fathers taking a quest to find out why they where abandoned. It’s a haunting, poetic film, being made by a crew who are used to making a ‘product’ and taking notes that come down from the corporate level. Through crowdfunding, we can make a true piece of art; a film told in the most compelling way possible. And we are doing it with our supporters who think likewise.
CAPITAL C: How did you prepare your Kickstarter campaign?
We have a social media director, Khalil Anthony, and he works with a group of assistants who each have an arm of social media assigned to them: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, etc. We all monitor what the other is doing. The director and myself constantly feed that team with information, pictures, original video content, and links. We have been storing up those items for months.
CAPITAL C: Last but not least: Pitch us your project in 1 headline and 3 short sentences!
Diahnna: A daughter journeys to Las Vegas with a DNA kit to discover if her ailing, mercurial father was ever truly her dad.
The film follows Karina, a successful academic, who travels to rundown Las Vegas to see ‘Cowboy’, her estranged and unpredictable father who has recently reinvented himself in the mold of a western hero. Years of family secrets and Cowboy’s own denial of her as a child has led Karina to believe he may not be her biological father. Because of his failing health, it is her last chance to discover the truth about her identity, and she knows this volatile man will not easily give up the answer.