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With a Splash of Culture & Diversity, Local Movie Buff, Tre McGriff, Brings Wildest Dreams to Li

Devising the Perfect Plan for CineOdyssey Movie Festival

Photo Credits: CineOdyssey/Tre pictured left of Shequeta Applebum

It took a few years to strategize for the exquisite project, which opened for a three-day weekend beginning July 27, 2017.

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing"

-Walt Disney

Dreaming about the possibilities of CineOdyssey Film Festival was one thing, but creating the multihued vessel proved to be a whole other caterpillar altogether.

Tre, a well known sensation had already planted a deep seed in the Carolina's as being a voice of acumen and intrigue especially when it boiled down to not just film but the machine that created them.

He’s profoundly enamored by the structure of cinema, so it’s not a bolt from the blue initiative that he would bring the CineOdyssey Movie Festival to Charlotte… It was only a matter of timing.

“Yes, it is a passion. I’ve loved films since I was probably a child. I was one of those kids that would walk up to a TV at 3 years old, and my mom would say, ‘Don’t do that. Your eyes will get bad.’ That was me. I was attracted to that moving image, combined with my love for music. So, very early, I was gravitating towards films that were musically based. I loved the old films—the old black and white films with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Stormy Weather and The Nicholas Brothers. I used to watch all that stuff, and I didn’t know what it [movies] was made out of. I just knew it was black and white. So, yeah… through that, and as I got older, I did a little acting and school plays. I didn’t really take acting that serious. It was more like, ‘We need an actor. You, come’er,” and I would do it.

I did some writing and my passion for it really went into overdrive about 20 years ago. I was deciding what I wanted to do as far as where I wanted to live, to move out of New York, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to move. I came to Charlotte and visited family over a period of 4 years. When I finally moved down here in 99, there was a guy who was an ex-police officer out of Jersey. He was running these film classes out of his house, and I had took some film classes out of New York. When I came down here, I was like, 'Oh, there’s another film school.' When I got there, I didn’t know it was the guys home. It was truly like an international vibe. There was an Asian guy, and the cop, he was married to a Puerto Rican Girl. There was a white guy. It was like, 'Wow, this is how film-making should be done with a real collaboration.'

We formed this little collective, and we went around and shot short films and features.

Later on, I met the late and great Dennis Darrell, he was such a great inspiration because he saw a need, to bring to Charlotte films that they may not otherwise see. Back then, you couldn’t find these films on the internet. You either had to leave the state or go somewhere else to find them, so he started doing that, and he sorta took me under his wing.

When he passed in 2009, which was a big blow to the community. Um, it was really a big blow.

I eventually met Tommy Nichols who I had met some years before at the Black Film Festival in Miami, and he asked me to come on-board to help him with his festival and I did that for about a year-and-a-half. I sorta wanted to build my own brand and put my own stamp on it, and I knew that I didn’t want to do another film festival that was just a black film festival. I wanted to do one that was a little more inclusive and diverse because I’ve always been attracted to all types of film. It [diverse films] actually helps you as an artist, to seek diversity in whatever you do because the world is a big place, and you’re always going to be dealing with people from all-over, and all walks of live

I started working and putting this together, and finally, filmmakers I respect, I would get in contact with them and they would give me films. The turning-point, one of the films that I screened last night, which was called 90 days, that was the first film that had a name in it. I was very excited about doing that film. I have over 30 films in this, it’s a lot of films for a first-time festival.

As Tre elaborated, he organized many cinematic events that were either groovy or blaxploitation films; he also served as a member of the Charlotte Black Film Festival, which lasted about a year-and-a-half.

Tre admits that there are many diverse outlets in Charlotte, and his main goal for the film festival is to give the city of Charlotte more options.

He is the professor who you hated for his honesty, and yet loved at the same time because you knew that he was pushing his pupils, you, to greatness.

She's Got A Plan

Valued by peers, actors and directors, Tre analyzed the work of artiste with an honest voice so their creations, these colorful capsules filled with imaginative stories would come to life and turn into illustrious butterflies.

“We’ve been planning the festival for a couple years now, but we’ve been blessed to finally make it happen. Our first opening night was at The Little Rock Cultural Center. We showed a very great film called She’s Got a Plan. The director of that film actually came in from L.A., He flew in from L.A to be with our audience. We had a great reception, and just a great feeling of support for all the people who came out for opening night, and last night, we continued the festival at the Mint Museum. We had a panel discussion on women in prominence as well as some great short features, and here we are at the Apex for the last day, and I don’t wanna go,” said Tre.

"The Mint Museum is kinda like my home. It’s a great theater. The filmmakers we invited, they really loved the theater, and we’ve been showing some great films today, too. We’ve got Yolanda Ross from the show, The Get Down, and the upcoming show, The Shy. She is going to be here at, like, five o’clock, to talk about acting, her journey as an actor, film and television. So, we’re just beyond excited to be here and to partner with the Mint Museum, and it’s going to be the first of many."

Tre said the best thing about his role for the COFF is that he’s showing people that they can accomplish things if they put their minds to it. He also said that it’s an outlet and that they are making history because there has never been a festival like it before.

Tre shared that they had about 110 people that came out total. Though he hoped to bring out more participants, he’s optimistic that the 2018 film festival will bring out more directors and movie lovers.

Charlotte is the city for limitless opportunities, so instead of putting segregated labels on the arts, his aim was to bring different cultures that represents multiplicity in film.

Just so we’re clear, CineOdyssey welcomed a broad range of talents which encompassed everything that made the film exceptional, so if the filmmaker’s project didn’t have qualities such as a relatable storyline, dexterity, and musical scores, all things that make a picture outstanding, their film didn’t make the cut. There were no favorites here, only tremendous talent.

Things that make a story great for Tre are the good versus evil narratives and he agrees that although many people loved the “Silence of the Lambs, people despised Hannibal Lector (Played by Anthony Hopkins). His grotesque character is the reason the movie is a classic till this day.

“It’s definitely story, production-value, acting and being able to relate. It’s good writing. You know, writing has become an endangered species because I’ve seen a lot of films that look beautiful with a great production and pretty people all over the place, and then the story-- somebody needs to take them out in the back and do whatever they gotta do,” he chuckled.

As elaborated... Tre is a critic above all critics. He's deathly honest, so if you don't want the bludgeon truth about your work, don't ask.

As for the festival, and dwindling down to the last night of artsy manifestos... captivation occupied the Mint Museum as out-of-towners, independent directors, and actors sat eagerly in the auditorium viewing the remaining shorts.

“The closing night’s film is called Gook [Special viewing August 17, 2017], and it’s been compared very favorably to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, and it was also a Sundance Film, so we’re very excited about that. Um, we gave an award just a few minutes ago to a young filmmaker out of Philadelphia, so we’ll be giving five more awards out tonight, at least five more.”


Tre plans to do a quarterly film series for local directors, so every three months he plans to display films and open the lines for dialogue after the showing.

"What happens a lot of times, when you have people that are local, whether that’s Charlotte Philadelphia, or wherever, they will make a film and show it to friends and family. Well, friends and family will never tell you that the film is bad.

The thing about your peers, your peers don’t have that kind of investment in you like family and friends. They are going to tell you the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts, but the truth is going to make you better.”

Tre’s favorite director is Spike Lee, “Anybody that talks about Spike, I’m coming for you. In fact, his very first film that he wrote and produced is, She’s Gotta Have it. We’re talking like 20 or 30 years, I remember that film. I remember standing in line to see that film at a movie theater in Manhattan. I remember him; he was out there online trying to sell hats and buttons. The brother was grinding. When people talk about branding, that’s another thing, Spike Lee was branding and crowdfunding before it was even a word. He was branding before it was even a word. He went to his family, friends, and circle of peers, to ask for funding for his film. That was crowdfunding. It’s amazing how much he has influenced his filmmakers with his work, but also, his work ethic, and also his ways of funding films, and making his films popular.

He can do no wrong in my eyes. He's humble enough to acknowledge the ones that came before him, the Melvin Van Peebles of the world or the people he looks up to… Yeah, I got a chance to meet Melvin Van Peebles right around the same time I met Tommie at ABFF.

He’s very humble to pay homage to the ones before him, and you gotta respect that. I wish more filmmakers of this generation would be humble enough to pay homage to people that are still here cause we aint promised tomorrow."

Tre mentioned that females are doing the darn thang in film and that he looks up to the sistas in film like Ava Duverny, Issa Rae and Shonda Rhymes.

"The sistas are putting it down and they are not only doing great work, but chaning the industry with innovation. The sisters are inspiring me, today, and it is what it is."

Speaking of domineering women in film, Tre wrapped up the three-day weekend with a Q&A session from actress, Yolanda Ross, who featured her short film, Walk For Me.

The film is in support of the LGBT community where a child is trying to come out and be accepted by the LGBT community all the while, he hides the secret from his mom. He ‘s adopted a new family where he feels accepted and a new mother who accepts him as a transgender woman.

CineOdyssey a gateway for change, and a voice for directors and actors of all creeds and nationalities… This year was a compelling beginning for more reflective story-lines to come…

Do you have what it takes? Will your short film make the cut in 2018?

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