Monday, August 13, 2012

Rainforest Films

Director Rob Hardy and Producer William Packer created Rainforest Films in 1994, on the eve of the success of their first film Chocolate City. Shortly thereafter, the duo began producing a myriad of corporate pieces as their film was distributed to video stores.

One of their most successful projects, Stomp The Yard (Sony/Screen Gems), grossed over $65 million dollars and held the #1 position at the box office for two weekends in January of 2007. Later that year the company produced This Christmas (Sony/Screen Gems), which made $50 million dollars. The success of both projects landed the duo amongst the Top 25 Entertainers and Moneymakers according to Black Enterprise Magazine (January 2008).

After moving to Atlanta, Rainforest blossomed with its spellbinding film Trois. Remarkably, the picture was funded, produced, and distributed independently. Trois became the fastest African-American distributed film to ever surpass the million-dollar mark. This achievement landed Rainforest Films at the #34 spot of Top 500 Film Distributors of 2000 listed by Hollywood Reporter (August 2001), and resulted in the picture being in the Top 50 Highest Grossing Independent Films of the Year according to Daily Variety (July 30, 2001).

Soon after, Rainforest Films produced the mesmerizing Pandora’s Box. This motion picture earned the star of the film, actress Monica Calhoun (The Best Man), an award for “Best Actress” from the 2002 American Black Film Festival. The film was later released to theatres and generated a respectable box office, further solidifying the company as a top tier independent theatrical distributor.

Rainforest soon acquired the rights to Lockdown. This dramatic prison piece also received a limited theatrical run via Rainforest Films and has subsequently become a financial juggernaut on home video, making it one of Columbia Tri-Star’s top selling independent releases. As a result, Rob Hardy and William Packer were listed amongst the “New Establishment” of Black Power Brokers in Hollywood (Hollywood Reporter – December 10, 2002).

Next came Motives, starring Vivica A. Fox and Shemar Moore and then the Isaiah Washington vehicle, Trois: The Escort, soon followed. After creating an MTV film project with mega-star Usher Raymond (Hollywood Reporter- July 21, 2004), Rainforest Films produced the indie breakout hit film titled The Gospel. Released in October 2005 by Sony/Screen Gems, this faith-based film starred Boris Kodjoe, Nona Gaye and Idris Elba, and featured new songs by Kirk Franklin. A companion concert video entitled The Gospel Live, soon followed. After teaming with both Sony and Lion’s Gate to produce Mekhi Phifer’s directorial debut Puff Puff Pass, Rainforest produced Motives 2: Retribution as well as the sequel Three Can Play That Game, both for Sony.

Most recently Will Packer was named one of the Top 10 Producers to Watch, by Variety Magazine (2007). Rob Hardy was nominated for the HBO Director to Watch Award (2005). Additionally, Rainforest Films has produced a number of commercial projects for clients, including: CNN, Turner Broadcasting, American Honda, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, The National Cancer Institute and Burrell Communications.

With the Beyonce Knowles picture Obsessed (Screen Gems) set for theatres in mere days, producer Will Packer is putting the final touches on Takers, a movie about a Los Angeles detective gunning against a hip band of thieves as they prepare a $20 million heist. Meanwhile Rob Hardy has been directing network television shows, including the Emmy Award winning ER, Criminal Minds and the webisodes for NBC’s Heroes. Up next for Rainforest is a sequel to Stomp the Yard and an all star African-American remake of the 80’s mega hit movie The Big Chill.


Anonymous said...

After trying for 7 years to break into Hollywood as an Aspiring Screenwriter, I find Hollywood to be in a state of disgrace. Lawsuit and class action suits of discriminatory behavior find some of the biggest Literary and Talent Agencies in the line of fire. Woman, Elderly and African Americans account for the minority being discriminated against by those who feel they are superior to anyone who doesn’t wear their face, race or gender.

Behaviors of these unappealing Hollywood giants make me wonder if becoming a Screenwriter is worth the headache, many African Americans like me face in Hollywood. As an American, I had never faced racism head on until I tried to break into Hollywood. Growing up in New York City, I never saw racism. Growing up in a diverse family, I never saw racism. Moving to the south in 2003, I never saw racism. So why do I see racism trying to get a Literary Agent? Why do I see racism trying to get a screenplay sold?

The only problem that Hollywood has with me is that they see me as a Black Woman. My race should not even be looked at when it comes to gaining employment. The fact that I’m an American Citizen with the legal standing to work in the country I was born in is the only thing that needs to be looked at. For Hollywood to look at anything else is considered discrimination and racism, in my book.

My birth name is Lisette Rochelle Alexander. My great grandmother’s name is Cora Click an American Indian. My grandmother Martha Click an African American/American Indian Female married my grandfather Lindsey Alexander a Caucasian Male. My mother Margaret Alexander from a Baptist family married my step-father Ezekiel Norton an African American/Caucasian Male from a Jewish family.

I’m a beautiful mixture of my Family Heritage but before I see myself as any race, I first see myself as a child of God and second as an American. I will not let the racial and discriminatory practices of Hollywood’s Ignorant Ones destroy my dreams of becoming a Screenwriter. I will not let them destroy my individualism or spirituality because I see myself as a child of God, before I see myself as a child of my earthly parents.

Like it or not, I am who I am because God made me who he wanted me to be. Like it or not, I am American Citizen. Like it or not, I am African American/American Indian/Caucasian Woman. Like it or not, my faith in God is stronger than any racism or discrimination I may face. Like it or not, I’m a Writer who will continue writing.

I will continue to follow my dreams, no matter how Hollywood’s Ignorant Ones view me. Their view of me is the wrong view to have, because it only allows them to see the outside of me. If they bothered to take a look on the inside of me, they would see pure talent, creativity, individualism, Godly love, happiness, forgiveness, understanding, affection and patience.

Things I have been told by Literary Agents over the past 5 years:

1) I really enjoyed your screenplay. It's going to be a huge movie. It made me laugh my butt off, but this is not what we're looking for.

2) We're no longer in business. (At least 5 Agencies on the list from the WGA told me this)

3) You need to be invited into the Agency. (By who? Who's going to send me an invite?)

4) You need to be referred to the Agency. (By who? A Producer who won't read your screenplay unless you have an Agent? Which is going to give me a referral? Don't look at Tyler Perry, he's one of those Producer who doesn't read your screenplay unless you have an Agent?)

5) You need to find a smaller Agency. (Contacted every agency across the country big and small and still haven't got an Agent.)

6) Contact us again in 3-6 months. (Did so only to never hear back from the Agencies who told me to contact them in 3-6 months.)

7) We are not accepting new clients.

To date I've written 35 projects which include manuscripts, screenplays and treatments but I still can't land a Literary Agent. I wonder why?

Ironmanaaron said...

Hello (AAEB), Your blog inspired me to submit my information. Please accept my apology with the lengthy text. My name is Aaron Perry, I'm the worlds 1st and only African-American Insulin Dependent Diabetic to complete the worlds most challenging endurance event, The Ironman Triathlon. 2.4-mile swin 112-mile bike 26.2-mile run.

I continue my advocacy to help change the culture of wellness within the African-American community so that our next generation of young black boys and girls will grow up without facing the serious health challenges diabetes has created for our time.

Please see my blog at and

Many from the medical community continue to praise my accomplishments, but far too many Black people continue to fall victim to various diabetic complications.

What ever (AAEB) can do to help bring attention to this Health Crisis for African-Americans, please know that my sleeves are rolled up and will help lead this movement. As a Diabetic Ironman Triathlete, I consider myself the new face of diabetes. Thank you for reading.


Aaron Perry