Sweet Home Chicago Series for Juneteenth: Video Interview with Filmmaker Mark Harris | Black Writers Week

Fiercely independent with a “do for self” motto, he studied as many books on the art form as possible then got started. He wrote over 10 screenplays before finally pitching a project entitled “Zombies in the Hood” to various studios, including ActorProducer Tim Reid’s New Millennium Studios. This eventually led to a number of industry insider introductions, mentorship and an opportunity to write spec scripts. Then in 2005, after writing several spec scripts and waiting for one of them to be produced, Harris realized, “if I want to see my work done, I’m going to have to make the film myself.” He was known among his furniture store colleagues to talk nonstop about his love of movies.

So when he announced that he was going to make his first film, “Why Men Cheat”, and finance it with his own salary, within the week two co-workers handed over $2,000 in cash to invest in the film. With that push, his production company, 1555filmworks, was born. Since then, in addition to producing films, Mark has created an online marketing company, Black Films Rock LLC, and in 2010, co-founded the Englewood International Film Festival to bring a celebration of film and positive entertainment to the community that raised him. In May 2021, Harris partnered with Vertical Entertainment to release “White People Money”. The film, starring Drew Sidora (“Step Up”) and Barton Fitzpatrick (“The Chi”), enjoyed a limited theatrical release in nearly 40 theaters across the US Several of Mark’s works are also available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms . His directorial efforts include “Black Coffee,” “Hyde Park” and the upcoming “Let Us Make Eve.”

Sonia Smith-Evans Bio:

Sonia is currently SVP of Development and Production for The Ebert Company. She previously served as Supervising Producer on the television show, “Ebert Presents: At the Movies” that aired on PBS stations nationally. Sonia also served as a Producer on the 2017 Whitney Houston documentary, “Whitney: Can I Be Me,” and worked as VP of Development and Production for Spicerack Productions, overseeing family-focused content.

Sonia began her production career as a production associate for ABC Studios in Burbank, California. She received her BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and currently serves on the boards of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, Writers Theater in Glencoe, IL and the Black Perspectives committee of the Chicago International Film Festival.