Interview with Award-Winning Writer, Filmmaker and Educator Nathan Ross Freeman
Nathan Ross Freeman's two most recent films have won numerous awards. He founded Authoring Action Youth Institute, an organization to develop young authors. He is also a playwrite and teacher. Read our interview with this talented artist!
CommitmentNow.com: Congratulations! Your Authoring Action documentary film was chosen as the Best Documentary Under 100 Minutes at the Swansea Bay Film Festival, Port Talbout, UK, with a screening on May 13, 2010! You are a co-founder of Authoring Action which was founded to develop youth authors who create original written works for stage, film and spoken word forums. What lead you to co-found this organization?
Nathan Ross Freeman: Co-Founder, Executive Director, Lynn Rhoades and myself saw the need to contribute to the now generous movement that franchises the voice of youth to educate and re-educate our at risk society, to supplement education, and march with the drum of education reform.
Our mission is to develop youth authors whom create original written works and fortify them to deliver their works in stage and film forums.
In Authoring Action we elevate to the definition of literacy. For our youth literacy is the ability to read and write on a level to negotiate.
CommitmentNow.com: Why is creative writing so important for children and young adults?
Nathan Ross Freeman: I am always tempted to ask, “What writing isn’t creative. Or should be?” I look at some tech manuals and I am amazed by the person who could have put together that stuff so I could understand it.
In Authoring Action our formula for creative writing is to Admit, to Accept, and to Share. When I admit I give myself … permission … to access what I have to say, express that which is unique to me and original to you. I conversate with voices of my invisible friends, or conjure the ones I left, too long, abandoned. They speak my truth with a certain honesty, And only speak from my unique self.
Acceptance is to put pen to paper, key to screen to legislate my expression by bringing it outside. And if I am lucky I will create more questions than proclamations, I will break ground via discovery and revelation, thus, grow.
To Share is to dare reveal to you, my audience, parent, peer, class, senator, creator, enemy, pen pal, diary; on stage, in film, with publication what I have admitted and accepted. My question would be how we can fortify our youth to protect themselves from having the creativity weaned out of ‘em by time they are in 6th grade, whipped by the conventions of Obey-ance vs. Admittance, Censorship vs. Acceptance and Protocol vs. Sharing. Often when I teach creative writing to youth K6-12, or, especially even, college levels, I find, via student feedback, and work, I participated in retrieving or giving back what has been lost or taken away.
CommitmentNow.com: You are a founder of Montage Showcase Assegai Film Group, Pen & Voice, and Mr. Bones Films LLC, as wells as an award-winning scriptwriter and filmmaker. What sparked your interest in the arts?
Nathan Ross Freeman: One has an Ambition, One has a Vocation, or One is Called to a way of life that is both fulfilling and sustaining. I have had the privilege and curse of Art as a Calling. I had an ambition to be an astronaut, wanted a vocation in international relations, and wound up a drummer, then a teacher, then a stage actor/director, then a playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker. So on the blind side I moonlight languishing in Sci-Fi novels and Listening to 60 Minutes and Meet the Press. Go figure.
I am blessed to be on the giving side of a tree. Art is life seeding itself. In drought or draught.
CommitmentNow.com: You are a member of the Intensive Writing Faculty at the University of North Carolina. What advice do you have for college students interested in screenwriting and/or playwriting?
Nathan Ross Freeman: I would tell them to find a Teaching Artist; not an Art Teacher. Find a school or department in a school that hosts folks from the field. If that does not exist in your school of Art Teachers, then hit the streets, find a working screenwriter or playwright or group … in the field … and go out and play. Often.
CommitmentNow.com: Your film, Mr. Bones, is about three adults who, as children, survived a bus crash that killed their parents, and find an unlikely partner in grief at the shallow grave of a long-lost child in the woods of a desolate park. How would you describe your experience making this film?
Nathan Ross Freeman: Arduous labor of love. It was my Baptism as a first feature. I contributed to the film …significantly … at every step: concept, screenplay, prospectus development, casting, director, cinematography, scoring, festival development and now, we have just finished sound correction, and very, very soon, distribution.
The miracle of the experience was working with youth whom soldiered through eighteen months of filming.
CommitmentNow.com: Mr. Bones was a Best Feature Film in the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival, a Distinguished Film in the 2009 Santa Barbara African American Film Series, and a Closing Ceremony Film in the 2009 Cine Noir Festival of Black Films, among the awards. What is it about Mr. Bones that appeals to moviegoers?
Nathan Ross Freeman: The strength of story, of acting, universal theme and intrigue. Mr. Bones speaks to village love and ancestral connection that any ethnic group can identify. Its universal theme of friendship, love, village care, redemption warms the heart. And it’s funny, sad, stitched with cold blooded drama heartfully woven.
The music is entirely original and composed for the film, by Tyhm Kennedy, scene by scene and spans the genres of gospel, world beat, Africana, R&B. And mostly that the story and cast in principle roles equally celebrated ages 10 to 70.
It plays to a connection with every member of the family, and is spiced with mystery, intrigue, paranormal, forensics (not graphic) and … love.
CommitmentNow.com: Where can we find more information on your work and Authoring Action?
Nathan Ross Freeman: For Authoring Action please go to www.authoringaction.org. You will find our fully interactive website, Trailers. And very shortly we will have the Authoring Action Store where you can purchase online Authoring Action Documentary DVD, Mr. Bones DVD and Authoring Action Anthology ( A collection of literary writings expressing 7 years of our history by youth K6-12 (496 pgs.))
For Mr. Bones go to www.mrbonesfilms.com
For all that I offer for agencies, organizations and corporations go to www.nathanrossfreeman.com.
Award Winning Writer, Filmmaker, Intensive Spoken Word Educator, Nathan Ross Freeman, an Impact Communications Specialist, was awarded 2007 B.E.S.T. Outstanding Faculty as Member of the Intensive Writing Faculty teaching Screenwriting/Playwriting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Mr. Freeman was the 2008-09 Visiting Writer at Salem College: Upper Level Screenwriting, Introduction and Intermediate Poetry and Creative Writing. Mr. Freeman is a Road Scholar for the NC Humanities Speakers Bureau, Founder of Montage Showcase Ensemble, Assegai Film Group, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Authoring Action Youth Institute, Mr. Bones Film, Llc, The Quad Films, Llc. As a statewide Resident Playwright of NC Playworks In The Schools, Mr. Freeman is the co-developer of the NCEdTA state wide curriculum for Playworks in the Schools (K4-12). Mr. Freeman was one of three Adjudicators for the 2009 NC Arts Council Playwrights/Screen Writer Fellowship ($10,000 Purse). Mr. Freeman received his BA in Political Psychology, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA 1972.