• DeAara Lewis

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Gone Too Soon…R.I.P. Rod Pitts (Live From Memphis Tribute)

RIP Rod Pitts


Last Friday, the Memphis film community was devastated as news spread of the passing of filmmaker Rod Pitts.

Pitts was one of the first wave of Memphis filmmakers to be empowered by the digital revolution. “I was told that Rod and others had seen The Poor and Hungry,” says director Craig Brewer, whose 2000 feature was shot on inexpensive digital video and went on to win both the Indie Memphis and Hollywood Film Festivals. “There was a time from when Poor and Hungry premiered in 2000 up until 2006 when people really started discovering digital cameras and editing.”

Pitts, who studied film at the University of Memphis, was at the center of a group of Memphis African-American filmmakers who set out to challenge the boundaries of indie film. “I first met Rod at a College Algebra class at the University of Memphis,” says actor and Live From Memphis contributor Markus Seaberry  “I talked to him every now and then, but I would keep running into him on campus and around the Poplar-Highland area.  Eventually, he asked me to be in a student film that he and Nahzeeh Majeed were working on. Years later, he asked me to be in What Goes Around, his debut feature film. This was my first acting role outside of high school productions.”

What Goes Around, a funny, insightful, and heartfelt romantic comedy, made its debut at the 2006 Indie Memphis film festival. It seemed to make a huge impression on everyone who saw it, including me. Its fine acting is matched by the great black-and-white photography, which, in turn, is made even more striking by a sudden shift to color that represents the joy of falling in love. Just completing a feature film with no budget and barely any resources to draw on is a great accomplishment. To make it compelling, memorable, and good is an order of magnitude more difficult.

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