Filmmaker who grew up in Daytona debuts project at national festival


Growing up in Daytona Beach in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Salenta Baisden could not have predicted that a film she helped write and produce would be featured at the 16th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF).

Former Daytona Beach resident and filmmaker Salenta Baisden says her involvement in creative writing in high school paid off.

Baisden, who graduated from Bethune-Cookman with a degree in math, now lives in California.

One of seven
Her film “The Dark Party,” was one of seven chosen to be shown at the festival, which took place in Miami June 20-23.

“My experience at ABFF was very positive,” said Baisden, whose mother, Ophelia “Fi Fi’’ Robinson, owns a Daytona Beach hair salon with daughter Kim Moten.

Baisden said her film, a light romantic comedy about a guy who never gets the girl and whose best friend always gets the girl, was well received. Seven feature finalists were chosen out of 385 submissions.

“The audience response was spontaneous laughter; some audience members were very vocal, which led to more laughter and fun,” Baisden remarked.

Advice for filmmakers
After her film was shown, Baisden said she was asked for advice from future filmmakers who wanted to know how to get their projects finished, financed and supported.

“The festival made me feel more resolute in my plans to bring the project to market as soon as possible. I feel confident that the public will enjoy watching what we have created,” said Baisden, who already is working on another project to be released in 2013.

Baisden was mainly responsible for getting the money to do the film and was listed on the credits as executive producer and co-writer.  From start to finish, Baisden said it took her five years to complete the film in order to enter it in competition and eventually a theatrical release.

“There was a lot of down time. I wasn’t happy with the rough cut,” said Baisden about why it took so long to complete the film.

Film features ‘Cosby Show’ star
The film was directed by and stars Kadeem Hardison, former child star of “A Different World” and “The Cosby Show.”

She says her involvement in creative writing in high school paid off.

Baisden, who says she is living the American dream, wanted to make sure anyone, not just Blacks, could understand and relate to her film.

“Films pigeonhole Blacks into certain types of genre,” Baisden noted.

Baisden said Hollywood is still a man’s world. She said her upbringing taught her how to deal with and relate to men in the business world.

“I’ve been talked to by men that would make some women cry,” Baisden said.

“There are a lot of Black women important to Hollywood. Women have great ideas.

Hollywood needs to tap that resource,” she continued.

More to come
Baisden learned a lot about the business while working at Warner Bros. for nine and half years. She worked for information services and was responsible for database of intellectual properties.

She noted that all films have a life cycle.

Baisden is currently a project manager for Bongo and says her film will at least be released on DVD.

She left Daytona Beach in 1975 to move to Boston with her husband. She would eventually end up in California. She has a daughter named after her who also has a role in the film.

Baisden said adjusting to different cities and people came easy to her.

“I was raised with values so I could fit in with different groups of people. I can survive anywhere. I had a curiosity of wanting to live other places.”

Baisden said though completing her first film was hard work, she sees producing two or three more films within the next five years.



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