America has an identity crisis and Passing is a hauntingly modern story. As female filmmakers, one Black and one white, Deborah Riley Draper and Jennifer Galvin find common ground in their history and love of unlikely and underrepresented characters. Passing is a logical next project for Deborah to continue examining racial and cultural dimensions of the Black experience, and as a native New Yorker, Jennifer revels in telling a female-driven narrative that reframes the Harlem Renaissance while tackling white privilege, then and now. Initially envisioned as a feature narrative film when we began development in 2014, we recognize Passing’s power as a series.
DEBORAH RILEY DRAPER
Deborah Riley Draper seeks to tell the full range of African-American stories — past, present and future. An advertising agency executive by trade, Deborah founded Coffee Bluff Pictures, an Atlanta-based independent film venture. At Coffee Bluff Pictures, Deborah develops, produces, and distributes compelling stories to satiate the African-American appetite for film. Her critically acclaimed feature documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (2016) qualified for an Oscar and screened at the White House for President Obama with the families of the 1936 US Olympic Team. In museums and on college campuses across the country, her film is used as a powerful tool for social justice and education. Deborah received a 2017 NAACP Image Award Nomination, in recognition for the film's role in promoting social justice through creative endeavors and Variety Magazine chose her for 2016’s Top 10 Documakers to watch. Deborah presented Passing while participating in the 2017 Cannes Film Festival Producers Network and in 2018, Deborah was selected to Facebook’s SEEN Initiative, a program that supports the visibility and success of diverse filmmakers. She participated in SEEN’s “The Future of Storytelling” panel in Facebook’s partnership with The Blackhouse Foundation during Sundance 2019. She is currently enrolled in the Sundance Co//ab Feature Directing course and participated in the Co//ab February 2019 Episodic Writing Master Class. For more about Deborah, visit deborahrileydraper.com.
A public health scientist by training, Dr. Jennifer Galvin left a fast-track academic career path to pursue filmmaking. She always had a knack for finding narrative in the numbers and wanted to use her storytelling abilities to put a face on societal problems and solutions. Determined to learn the filmmaking craft, she earned the top 2006 NYFA-NYSCA grant to make her debut feature documentary (Free Swim) and completed a film residency at EICTV, Cuba. Today she runs reelblue, LLC, an independent film production and media company based in New York. Commercial to indie, documentary to fiction, moving image to print – for Jennifer it all starts with a great story and her motivations remain fueled by the maxim protect the vulnerable. While she most loves having the camera in her hands, Jennifer’s ability to direct, produce, write, and shoot led her to being compared to a Swiss Army knife when named to GOOD Magazine's GOOD 100, representing the vanguard of artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and innovators from over 35 countries making creative impact. Her 2016 feature documentary The Memory of Fish was one of three Wildscreen Panda Award Best Script nominees – the highest accolade in the wildlife film and TV industry, dubbed the ‘Green Oscars’. She is currently in production on a feature documentary exploring kindness in America and developing several projects spanning fiction and nonfiction film. More about Jennifer at reelblue.net and jengalvin.com.