Interview with Jamal Page Creative Director & Founder of Black Sparrow Media. Be sure to check Black Sparrow Media’s content on YouTube and to follow them on Facebook & Instagram.
Who are you? Why did you start it?
My name is Jamal Page and I own a small production company called Black Sparrow Media. I made the decision to start Black Sparrow Media four years ago because I want to create and tell stories that change lives.
How would you like the community to celebrate Black Business Month? And why is it important to celebrate it?
I believe Black Business Month is a great time to reach out and support some locally owned Black businesses. Tell your friends about them, post about them on your social media of choice, and I think most importantly, just listen. It’s the diversity and culture of businesses like this that make Fort Collins a positive example for the surrounding area. It’s important for any community to celebrate it’s diverse culture and take steps to ensure it’s fostering the positive growth of those cultures as well. Variety is the spice of life after all!!
What is the importance of owning a Black media company? Can you talk about the importance of empowering diverse voices on both sides of the camera?
This is something that has developed over time, and is still currently developing. I had the privilege of being naive. I never thought much about it being a Black owned business. It was just me, a guy, who wanted to create films. Overtime, as the work grew and people started learning more about Black Sparrow Media, I started to notice people would often look to me as a public voice for the Black community. At first I didn’t quite understand why. I’m just some goofball who stands behind a camera and films things. I think the turning point was the kids. I once met a group of kids, with the same skin color as me, and they looked at me like I was some kind of superhero.Just because of what I did for work. That’s when I realized it wasn’t enough to be behind the camera. Although I don’t really enjoy being on the other side of the camera, I do it so kids can see someone who looks like them. I know how important it is to others that I keep doing the work on both sides of the camera now.
Do you see your experience as a business owner and member of the Black community as different from business owners who are not part of the Black community?
I would love for my answer to this question to be “no”. Ideally, it’d be great to be treated equal to some other businesses. Whether that means treated poorly or wonderfully, at least we’d all be in the same boat haha. Unfortunately, we’re in a different situation completely. Speaking for myself, I’ve had multiple situations where I’ve been denied access to resources or equipment that others gain access to easily. Moments like that happen and I just have to kind of deal with it. Reasons like that make me feel as if I’m often playing with a different set of rules than other business owners who aren’t a part of the Black community. These situations don’t stop me from getting the job done, they’re just another challenge to overcome and I’m not afraid of a challenge.
Has steering a Black-owned media company changed the way you think about media? About businesses in general?
I’m a big fan of proper representation on screen. I think of moments when I got to see Black characters accurately portrayed in a show or movie. That feeling I get is something I want everyone to feel. Whether that be LGBTQ+ characters, other ethnicities, even anyone with a disability or who mentally operates different than others. As a Black business owner, I want to use my business to represent other communities the same way I’d represent my own. With respect and the smaller beauties of them.
Do you feel like there’s a special connection among Black-owned businesses and business owners?
Yes, absolutely. As I mentioned before. Being a Black business owner can often feel like I’m dealing with a completely different set of rules and I feel that all Black business owners can agree with that in some form. So in that regard, there’s a level of mutual understanding. To know that we have to work harder, longer and for less, but still be expected to meet the requirements of others. That sort of thing will definitely create a special connection.
What support do you need during this time that was missing? What type ofsupport do you feel you received?
The last 12 months have been difficult for everyone. The Fort Collins community really showed their efforts in supporting local business and that was amazing to see. I was surprised at how warmly received we were during such a turbulent time. I think the support we’ve been missing during this time is access to resources for sure. I’m focused on trying to grow the business to a point where we can focus on telling the stories we want. There’s so many other people, groups, identities, that I feel deserve to have stories properly told. Right now we’re kind of locked out by funding and access to resources. My plans are to grow Black Sparrow Media into a fully self-sufficient production house.
What’s your favorite project you’re ever worked on or produced at Black Sparrow Media? Where should people go to check it out?
I think my favorite project is unfortunately one that got cancelled due to the pandemic. We were in production for a mini-series called “Breaking”. I really loved that one. I had a whole road map planned out for at least 2 seasons for the show and was excited with some of the on-screen talent. We barely got two episodes finished before we had to shut down. Those will both be up on our YouTube channel soon. Otherwise, Black Sparrow Media recently produced our first feature film called “Safe House 1618”. That was a great experience for us and I’m hoping to produce or be involved with more feature length films in the future! That trailer is already up on our YouTube page as well.