Filmmaking Duo Set To Shake Up Animation With Historic Black Queer Film ‘Pritty’
“What happens when a Black boy puts a flower behind his ear?”
In a perfect world, free from the constraints of societal and cultural expectations, a Black queer boy would have the permission to just be. But we don’t live in a perfect world, which is why the imaginations of Keith F. Miller, Jr. and Terrance Daye, the creative forces behind the upcoming animated film “Pritty: The Animation,” have created a world that shows how life could be when Black queer boys have the freedom to love, play, and heal.
The 20-minute animated short reimagines the typical queer coming of age story by replacing Black trauma with Black joy and discovery through the lens of an intentional Black experience. Miller, a Savannah, GA native, initially birthed the idea for Pritty over a decade ago with his unpublished novel by the same name. Daye, a Morehouse College alumnus and Long Island, NY native directs the groundbreaking animated film that will become the first in history to center Black queer characters.
"The Deep South breeds its Black boys hard, then there’s Jay. He sticks out for all the wrong reasons. He’s dark-skinned, quiet and skinny, and likes to wear flowers in his hair. The opposite of his masculine and charismatic older brother, Jacob. Their differences peak at the community pool where swaggering manhood is on full display. Jay is reserved as he struggles to embody his brother’s carefree confidence. Until he gets help from Justin, a charming, light-skinned boy from the neighborhood. Their new friendship is tested, however, when an unspoken truth dares to surface."
Miller and Daye did not set out to make history through animation, the creative duo was one week away from beginning production on the live-action short film in 2020 before the pandemic hit, forcing them to pivot to animation.
“Animation is a universal medium where we imagine ourselves as capable of anything,” says Miller.
“For young people in this world to see themselves as possible and represented and Black culture as the center, not to the side, not as the verb of a white experience, it becomes a powerful moment where people are then engaged in a universal conversation on what Black identity is and what it means to be a person of color,” he says. “But also, what is queer when you don't name it? Is there anything different between me and you when you see these young men and their community on the screen? The reality is no, there is no difference.”
That we are more alike than we are different, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, hit close to home for Miller during the early stages of writing the novel that would eventually become the source material for the short film.
"I gave it to my mom, and she called me back crying and was like, ‘he loves just like I do," Miller recalls of his mother’s reaction to his leading queer character.
“And I can not put into words how much I think I needed to hear that, although all I could muster out and say is yes, he does. And what I learned at that moment is that Jay, the main character of the novel, was the gateway.”
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