From left: Nicholas Powell (Co-founding Editor of SoulVision Magazine), BK Fulton (Founding Chairman, CEO of Soulidifly Productions), Queon “Q” Martin (Executive Vice President of Soulidifly Productions). Photos by Jessica Knox Photography.
“To go far, we must run together.”
Inside Soulidifly’s “production house” in Richmond,VA, four men representing different generations sit down to give an overview of the company’s creative output over the last couple of years. At the center is Chairman and CEO BK Fulton. He’s flanked by his team Queon “Q” Martin, Nicholas Powell, and Monty Ross. The camera starts to roll and BK begins the interview with, “We’re just a bunch of guys trying to bring something positive to the world.”
Soulidifly Productions is the brainchild of BK Fulton. He noticed a disparity in the way women, people of color, and people of good will were represented on the big screen. BK says stories involving female and minority characters are too often portrayed through a “deprivation lens.” Simply put, the usual portrait was not positive and this skewed view perpetuates harmful stereotypes and caricatures of women and minorities. BK saw an opportunity for a more complete and informed narrative. This vision spoke to his soul. Accordingly, in 2016, he created Soulidifly Productions. Within its first year, Soulidifly Productions produced four feature-length films, a milestone that has never been achieved before in independent film history. Fast forward to 2019, we find that Soulidifly Productions has evolved into a full-fledged film and media company. The company has produced ten SoulVision Magazine issues (twelve issues by the end of the year), published four Mr. Business books (seven by the end of the year), earned distribution for all four of its feature-length films (less than 4% of independent films usually get distribution), and soon will launch a digital streaming TV network called SoulVision.TV. In 2019, the Soulidifly assets will be accessible to anyone on the planet.
Soulidifly Productions champions the “achievement narrative.” For too long in Hollywood, the dominant depiction of people of color has been one of sadness and low expectations. It has become folklore that the minority characters don’t always make it to the end of films. If the minority character does somehow make it to the end of the film or does something with great achievement, they are usually assisted by a “white savior.” While this history has been addressed by some filmmakers like Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) who challenge the stereotypes of what a black person should look like on the big screen, there is still much work to be done. What if that minority character lived? What if we told the story of figures in history that achieved but, because of their race, were never acknowledged? These are the kind of stories Soulidifly is looking to produce and acquire in the future. BK cites the story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges as an example. He was the champion fencer in all of Europe in the late 1700s, a master violinist, virtuoso and composer as well as the inspiration behind the Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. However, very few know of Saint-Georges. He is also unknown to those familiar with the classical music genre even though he influenced Mozart who followed him. In fact, in a twist of fate, Saint-Georges is often called the “Black Mozart” even though he was more than a decade older than Mozart and was considered the best violinist and composer of his time. Fortunately, the world will soon know his story. Soulidifly has enlisted an emerging screenwriter to write a screenplay about the great Saint-Georges.
“We’re just a bunch of guys trying to bring something positive to the world,” BK says.
Reaching a younger and more technically connected generation is very important for the Soulidifly brand. The Mr. Business: The Adventures of Little BK series answers the call for more diversity in children’s literature. Based on the books’ social media presence, Mr. Business has reached a diverse set of young readers. Its success proves one assumption wrong: white kids cannot relate to a character of color. “Mr. Business: The Adventures of Little BK covers pivotal moments in my life where I learned major lessons and figured out how to deal with challenges and change,” BK says. “All children go through these things. As part of our commitment to community building and learning, Soulidifly and the Mr. Business team work with the book’s publisher to develop free lesson plans for each book. We give away the lesson plans to teachers, homeschoolers, and parents via our website. It is said that ‘… if you want to touch the future, you should touch a child.’ We have created this resource to be accessible to young people so they can see a young and positive child in chocolate skin going through the same situations they are going through and winning.”
In the coming months, we will launch our new digital streaming TV network called SoulVision.TV (SVTV). The network will show inspiring and humorous content 24/7 and on-demand. It will be a free ad-supported streaming TV network on all major platforms including mobile. “It will be on all of the leading streaming platforms—Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, and all mobile platforms, tablets, most smart TVs and home computers,” BK explains. BK says the network has almost 100 hours of programming (more to come) with an emphasis on authentic and positive human stories. A favorite short of his, titled I LIke Being 98, follows 98-year old Evelyn and her determination to help a friend in need. The short is authentic and heart-warming. The network will have a mixture of long-form and short-form content including feature films. Tim Reid is the Vice Chairman of the Network and will lead the creation of a web-based channel on the network that focuses on Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas.
“We intend to be among the very best digital TV networks,” Q says.
With SoulVision Magazine, BK Fulton and Nicholas Powell set out to give young people and those interested, “blueprints for success.” SoulVision is a play on the idea that everyone has a soul and through dialogue and sharing, we can appeal to each other’s souls (truth) to hopefully reach a common understanding. We have the opportunity to sit down with some of the leaders in the entertainment, politics, and business sectors and hear them speak honestly about how they got to where they are today. SoulVision Magazine does that. The magazine interviews are designed to give an unfiltered look at its interview subjects. Consider for example, our extensive interview with civil rights advocate and former president of the National Urban League, Hugh Price. The interview is the longest article SoulVision Magazine has ever published and it’s one of the best and most popular.
Nicholas is the youngest member of the central team. He is the primary writer for the magazine. Throughout his time as an undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), BK was his mentor. After graduation, he had difficulty finding a natural fit for his primary talent: writing. It was in the fall of 2018 when BK came to him with a proposal for an online publication. It was an early, foggy morning when he received a text from BK with a skeleton of what the magazine would be about. Nicholas would become the co-founding editor. In BK’s condo, they brainstormed the idea of the magazine. It would gather positive coverage of urban communities worldwide. It would be an extension of the mission of Soulidifly Productions: telling positive stories. Nicholas started to work on the layout with Q and Manny Taveras who is responsible for coding and delivering the layout of each magazine issue. The magazine ended up being way more than positive coverage of the urban communities, it has become a go-to resource for creatives and “movers and shakers” from all walks of life. “It’s ‘fire’ and ‘100%’ real,” BK likes to say. “Our readers love it.”
Monty and Q are essential team members for keeping Soulidifly Productions afloat and profitable. They both prioritize analytics and ask the hard questions. BK will call Q or Monty early in the morning with ideas on the business of the company and its films and other assets. Monty and Q are quintessential New Yorkers. In the early 90s, they crossed paths without even knowing it. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Q was fascinated with the films Monty produced with Spike Lee. He remembers seeing Monty in Spike’s Joint, the official storefront for Spike Lee’s films merchandise and memorabilia, as a teenager. It would be years until they would actually meet and work together at Soulidifly Productions. When they finally met, Monty proclaimed that he admired and paid attention to Q’s work when he was with MoviePass. The feeling was mutual.
Monty is President of Film and Production and has given his input and knowledge of filmmaking to all of Soulidfly’s films including, River Runs Red, Love Dot Com: The Social Experiment, and 1 Angry Black Man. Monty also served as the creative director for the upcoming documentary Unity Ride. Two men (one black and one white) look past their often dueling political perspectives on a cycling trip across the country for a greater purpose. To decompress from the hustle and bustle of the day, Monty will head down to Crossroads on Forest Hill with his sketchbook and drawing pencils and sit at a table by himself; headphones in. He’ll draw whatever inspires him at the moment.
Monty Ross, President of Film & Production of Soulidifly Productions photographed at Soulidifly’s production house in Richmond, Virginia. Photos by Queon “Q” Martin.
Monty met BK through James Person who is President of Soulidifly’s Stage & TV division. Monty got an urgent call from James. He said that a man named BK Fulton wanted to meet with him to discuss making movies together. While Monty was teaching film finance at Old Dominion University (ODU) and facilitating interns at Hampton University, BK was meeting with Eleanor Earl, a professor of film and English at the University. This is where they finally connected. BK asked Monty to help with a future film project. Monty thought this was it. Then, he started to get phone calls at 4:00 AM from BK about working on all Soulidifly projects.
The initial project BK and Monty set out to make was proving to be costly and too ambitious for a first film. So, the two men came up with a new plan: make two films for half of the budget. These two projects ended up being Love Dot Com: The Social Experiment and 1 Angry Black Man. That summer of 2017 would change Monty’s life forever. Monty packed his bags and moved to Richmond to work full time. The rest is history. The production team just completed their fifth feature film and are already working on their sixth with a few documentaries on deck as well.
“It’s not just me in the mirror. It’s US in the mirror. If you want to go fast, sometimes you have to run alone, but if you want to go far, we have to run together,” BK says.
Queon understudied with Martin Scorsese and Joel Schumacher. This experience with some of the greats helped him to fine tune his interest in film and production. It also told the world he was a serious filmmaker and creative. Q also likes to express himself through his black and white photography. His Instagram page, Carter Magazine, is a careful curation of black and white photos of African-American historical figures. Queon met BK through MoviePass creator, Stacy Spikes. Q relocated to Richmond, Virginia after having conversations with BK about ways to take Soulidifly Productions to the next level. Q is the Executive Vice President of Soulidifly Productions in charge of operations and marketing. He is also a news junkie and loves to have the tv tuned to CNN or MSNBC when he is not watching SoulVision.TV. He likes to say he’s keeping his eye on the competition to learn how the “major” networks are using their streaming services to deliver reports about important and current issues. “We intend to be among the very best digital TV networks,” Q says.
Queon “Q” Martin
Q’s ultimate focus is making sure that Soulidifly’s range of products (books, films, a digital magazine and its TV network) convert into real dollars for the company. He is also the CEO of their development brand for emerging creatives, Body Snatchers Productions. The company’s very first website didn’t have that “cool” factor he was looking for. The updated site shows all of what the production company has to offer with an easy to use navigation interface. The landing page’s background video features the company sizzle reel which time-lapses through Soulidifly’s products. “Every product we develop for purchase is available via a clickable link. Soulidifly’s digital space is now a complete ecosystem with multiple cross branding opportunities,” Q proclaims with a smile. “We’ve got the goods fellas!”
BK looks to his team with admiration. He’s grateful for their hard work, passion, and dedication to the brand. “It’s not just me in the mirror. It’s US in the mirror. If you want to go fast, sometimes you have to run alone, but if you want to go far, we have to run together,” BK says. “We are the new narrative personified. The old view of us would have been one of lack ‘. . . four brothers in Richmond making movies, nah they ain’t doin’ nothin’.’ The current view is ‘what, they did that?! They’ve got real movies. They’ve got books on Amazon. They’ve got a TV network streaming worldwide to over 400 million eyeballs!’” BK laughs. “Surprise, surprise, baby. Surprise, surprise.” Soulidifly Productions is the real deal. If you didn’t know, now you know.