Alabama Cinerama

  1. Trailer for Pray and Get Ready, a film by Tyler Bell.

    Pray and Get Ready is scheduled for release in Spring 2013.

    Filmed in November, 2004, this film follows Isaiah Owens from Montgomery, Alabama to New York City, where Isaiah played three packed shows following the well received release of "You Without Sin Cast The First Stone" on Casequarter Records.

    "In the early 1980's while singing lead with the gospel quartet the Flying Clouds of Montgomery, Alabama, Isaiah Owens decided to satisfy a long time fascination and learn how to play the guitar. Amid both playful chiding and encouragement, Owens began to accompany himself at gospel programs and during various local gospel radio broadcasts. Striking out on his own musically, Owens immediately embraced dissonance and loud volume to embellish the rudimentary chords he played.

    Owens was born in Marengo County, Alabama near the town of Dayton in 1932. He began to sing in his local church, Hoppill Baptist Church, at a young age. His migration to Montgomery by his late teens included "working the green end', a dangerous and laborious job in the sawmills near Rockford in Coosa County. At his local church in Rockford, Owens joined the gospel group the Morning Stars of Rockford, Alabama. It was at a Morning Stars anniversary program in Rockford in 1950 that the Flying Clouds of Montgomery first saw Isaiah perform. The Clouds immediately extended an offer to Owens to join the group and he was in Montgomery by the end of the week. Owens would remain with the Flying Clouds for the better part of 45 years. At the same time, Owens landed a job with the local Coca-Cola bottling company, a job he would hold for the next 42 years until his retirement. For several years in the early 1960's, the Flying Clouds were regulars on a local Sunday morning gospel television program the "Sounds of Zion". By the late 1960's, the Flying Clouds had recorded a single and two LPs for Savoy. In 1970, they waxed two singles for Hoyt Sullivan's HSE label."
    (Excerpted from You Without Sin Cast The First Stone liner notes by Kevin Nutt, 2004)

    # vimeo.com/49166234 Uploaded
  2. THE BIG STATION tells a story about an African American owned and operated radio station in Montgomery, Alabama. Through intimate footage of call- in shows, portraits of listeners, music programming, and live remote broadcasts, THE BIG STATION seeks to explore the relationship between a radio station and its listeners. The purpose of the film is to show what radio is like when it is not only for the people, but also by the people.
    Every Saturday, thousands of residents of Montgomery, Alabama’s African American community turn on their radios to WKXN FM for the local radio call-in shows “Nosey Neighbor” and “Down in the Hood.” From front porches to barbershops, listeners tune in to hear WKXN DJs “Killer Diller” Roscoe Miller, “The Iceman” Jerry Jackson, and James “Doctor Funk” Smith take calls from listeners and discuss local gossip and news over a soundtrack of new school and old school R&B music. The popularity of both of these radio programs is due to station owner “Killer Diller” Roscoe Miller’s vision of offering his listeners community-based radio programming reminiscent of the radio days of old.
    Known to its listeners as “The Big Station,” the DJs of WKXN carry on the tradition of African American radio pioneers such as Nat D. Williams, Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, and Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg. The filming of THE BIG STATION offers a unique opportunity to explore why radio is still a relevant platform in today’s media environment.

    # vimeo.com/49214342 Uploaded
  3. What began as a camera test on a cold morning in 2004 ended as a fun little film. On Martin Luther King Jr Day in Montgomery, Alabama a parade is held, starting where Rosa Parks got arrested, then following the route marchers took from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, going past the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where King preached, and ending up at the State Capitol. People are encouraged to join the parade as it passes. This is where it gets interesting. As the Jefferson Davis Marching Band passed the fountain where slaves were once sold, and the message to start the Civil War was sent, a man darted out in front of my camera, grabbed the band's director and started giving him compliments. As you will see in this film he is completely caught up in the excitement of the day. His animated spirit may have been enhanced by the pint of spirits in his back pocket. I was compelled to follow him as he danced down the street. As the old saying goes, "there's a character on every street". I was fortunate to find one of them on that cold morning in 2004.

    # vimeo.com/49250913 Uploaded
  4. In late November, 2004 Kevin Nutt invited me to accompany him to Samson, Alabama to interview the legendary blues guitarist and preacher, Bishop Perry Tillis, for the blues historian Guido van Rijn's book "Kennedy Blues".

    This is anything but a straightforward road film. Interviews and self-recorded tapes of Tillis along with color footage shot by Steve Grauberger are woven into footage of Kevin Nutt trying to find the Bishop. The unlikely series of events that unfold is poignant as well as it is disturbing.

    Tyler Bell,
    September 16, 2012

    # vimeo.com/49567425 Uploaded
  5. In October of 1948, WDIA, in Memphis, Tennessee, became the first radio station in the United States programmed by African Americans for African Americans.

    Today, in Montgomery, Alabama - the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement - a small black-owned and operated radio station carries on WDIA’s cultural legacy.

    Known to its listeners as “The Big Station,” WKXN provides the local African American community with call-in shows, local news, and plenty of soulful music.

    Director Tyler Bell adopted a direct approach to filming in order to create a cinematic environment where the film’s viewers are treated as an extension of the radio station’s listening audience.

    THE BIG STATION illustrates what radio is like when it is not only for the people, but by the people. As WKXN owner and DJ “Killer Diller” Roscoe Miller would say...“it’s on like popcorn!”

    THE BIG STATION tells a story about an African American owned and operated radio station in Montgomery, Alabama. Through intimate footage of call in shows, portraits of listeners, music programming, and live remote broadcasts, THE BIG STATION seeks to explore the relationship between a radio station and its listeners. The purpose of the film is to show what radio is like when it is not only for the people, but also by the people.

    Every Saturday, thousands of residents of Montgomery, Alabama’s African American community turn on their radios to WKXN FM for the local radio call-in shows “Nosey Neighbor” and “Down in the Hood.” From front porches to barbershops, listeners tune in to hear WKXN DJs “Killer Diller” Roscoe Miller, “The Iceman” Jerry Jackson, and James “Doctor Funk” Smith take calls from listeners and discuss local gossip and news over a soundtrack of new school and old school R&B music. The popularity of both of these radio programs is due to station owner “Killer Diller” Roscoe Miller’s vision of offering his listeners community-based radio programming reminiscent of the radio days of old.

    Known to its listeners as “The Big Station,” the DJs of WKXN carry on the tradition of African American radio pioneers such as Nat D. Williams, Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, and Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg. The filming of THE BIG STATION offers a unique opportunity to explore why radio is still a relevant platform in today’s media environment.

    # vimeo.com/103098810 Uploaded

Alabama Cinerama

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Alabama Cinerama showcases films made by Tyler Bell for Social Savings Club.

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