The entertainment industry has a tendency to burn people out. Its shark infested waters, backstabbing and crushing rejections all have a way of sending people packing with unfulfilled dreams. So, it is refreshing to build with someone who has enjoyed a 20+ year long career. For Sowande Tichawonna and others like him, I wanted to launch this column in appreciation of their longevity and to learn from the best. Here’s our first installment of Industry Wisdom.
Resides in Washington, DC
Professional Title: Editor, Producer, Videographer
Film Credits: Director of Photography & Co-Executive Producer of Straight Up Go-Go. Screenwriter, Director & Executive Producer of The New “N” Word. Screenwriter of Talkin’ Shop.
Latest Project: Branding Video for the Team Isiah Foundation, an organization founded to help children win against cancer.
How did you become an Editor?
I became an editor through my work for other companies. I’ve had the good fortune of working Montgomery Public Schools for 12 years. I took it upon myself to learn the craft in depth. I took a class in Avid editing. I’m an Adobe Premier Pro, Avid and Final Cut Editor. I’m a big proponent of knowing the fundamentals so that you can apply them across various mediums.
How did attending Howard University benefit your career?
I have a Bachelors of Arts in Broadcast production from Howard. Everything I studied gave me the foundation to make a living as a professional. One thing about being at Howard, I was very social. I knew a lot of people from different walks of life and different countries. The ones who were serious in their discipline are the ones who are doing well now. Putting myself in different social circles has made a huge impact on my network.
“There’s no difference between a documentary and a narrative because it’s all storytelling.”
What experience changed your life?
Taking the History of Blacks in Film course at Howard University changed me. We screened Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep. In that film I saw images of people who I grew up with. I didn’t realize it was possible until I saw that film. That’s what made me want to be a filmmaker. Initially, I was amazed. Then, I was angry that it wasn’t widely available. That was what put me on this course. I decided I wanted to not just to be a filmmaker, but to be a filmmaker that didn’t perpetuate stereotypes of African Americans in film. To this day, they are still prominent.
What is your advice for someone starting in this business?
Treat everyone with respect and treat everyone equally. When you meet people and treat them with kindness and fairness, they remember that. Nothing like leaving people with a good impression.
At his DC based production company, Sowande Tichawonna continues to edit and produce branded content for corporations, non-profits and government agencies. In addition, he’s mobilizing a fund to provide support for black focused film projects. Catch him on Facebook.