MEET Morgan Stiff and Patina Mabry: Tina Mabry and Morgan Stiff aren’t waiting for Hollywood to green light their success. They’ve pulled out the stopper and are going after success in the major motion picture industry with everything they’ve got. Of this dynamic duo, Tina Mabry has an MFA in film production from the University of Southern California. Mabry also co-wrote Itty Bitty Titty Committee, which won Best Feature Narrative at South by Southwest. Her feature film, Mississippi Damned, premiered on Showtime and won an impressive thirteen awards including Best Feature Film at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2009, Mabry was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Filmmaker Magazine. Her feature County Line won the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award in 2011. She recently completed the FOX Writer’s Intensive, which is a highly selective television and feature program, held at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, CA.
Morgan R. Stiff graduated from the University of Southern California, School of Cinema-Television, with an MFA in Film Production in 2005 after receiving her BFA from New York University in Dramatic Writing in 2002. As a producer, Morgan has produced fiction and documentary films. Producing projects include Porcelain (2004), which is currently being distributed by Iron Rod Motion Pictures, Inc.; Hip Hop Homos (LOGO Networks, 2004); the award-winning Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan (Showtime, LOGO, BET J, 2005); the award-winning feature documentary One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story (Ovation TV, 2009), which she also edited; and the critically acclaimed and award-winning Mississippi Damned (Showtime 2011). In 2007, Morgan participated in the FIND Producer’s Lab with Mississippi Damned, which she also edited, as well. Morgan is the Chief Productions Officer of Morgan’s Mark; a production company dedicated to bringing marginalized stories to the mainstream. Morgan’s new feature, County Line, was accepted into FIND’s 2010 Screenwriters Lab as well as their 2011 Fast Track program. In April 2011, the script won the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award.
MN: When and why did you launch Morgan’s Mark?
TM: We launched Morgan’s Mark in September 2007 because we felt stories of marginalized groups were being neglected in mainstream media. We wanted to start an independent film company and editing facility that would focus on producing films that emphasized character and an editing facility that focused on quality over quantity. Mainstream films mostly center on plot, failing to portray a variety of people. Therefore, we asked ourselves – who’s listening to the millions of people looking for something more, something that echoes their experiences? There was an obvious void and we wanted to lift original characters and innovative ideas from the margins and redefine mainstream culture in film.
MN: Businesses cannot succeed without capital. What resources did you use to finance Morgan’s Mark?
MS: You certainly have to hustle. Morgan’s Mark is a production company and editing facility and often the editing work allows us to earn the capital that keeps the business running. Early on we often edited industrials as a means to keep money coming into the business while we pursued our fiction and documentary projects.