America’s Premiere Urban Lifestyle Column – Edition 16, Issue 20

dianne ashford

Dianne Ashford

*Perhaps no other position on a film production is more important than that of a line producer. Charged with controlling the budget, a Line Producer is very often the final word on everything from who gets hired to what is done on set for a production.

For Dianne Ashford it is a responsibility that she takes very seriously and does very well. With credits that include “The Gospel” and “Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming,” Ashford has built a superlative reputation for her attention to detail and the bottom line.

The Robertson Treatment recently spoke with her as part of our ongoing Power Series to learn the secrets for getting a production done – on budget!

Robertson Treatment: How do you contribute to the overall process of making a film?

Dianne Ashford: A Line Producer allocates the money and is responsible for making sure the film comes in on budget and on time.  Some of my responsibilities include budgeting, scheduling and hiring key production personnel as well as overseeing the day to day activities on set.

RT: Why did you pick line producing as a career?

DA: I chose Producing as a career because I was interested in all aspects of the filmmaking process from pitching to distribution.

RT: What distinctive quality to you bring to your craft?  

DA: Natural leadership and problem solving skills infused with an ability to provide creative insight to the process.

RT: Are there any obstacles that you’ve had to overcome to achieve success in your career? 

DA: Not really, having come from the corporate world, the transition was fairly easy for me because being a producer is much like being a project manager.  But I will say that because this was not my field of major in college, I used to question whether or not  I was qualified to be a producer but every time I complete a project on time and under budget, I realize that I’ve got this!

RT: Please share some advice for others who look to follow in your path. 

DA: If you are truly passionate about producing, be vigilant and never give up.  There will be many obstacles and many “no’s” but the more “no’s” you hear, the better because if you’re serious, it should fuel the fire within you.  Lastly if you’re just starting out, try to be a production assistant in the production office or the accounting department.  If you keep your head down and just listen, you will learn so much about the business!  At least, that’s how I did it!

RT: What’s next for you?  

DA: I’m excited about an independent film I produced called “Echo At 11 Oak Drive”.  We raised funds through a crowd funding campaign and it’s an artistic gem.  We are currently seeking a distribution deal and we just returned from the Cannes International Film Festival in France, which was a first for me and an eye opening experience.  In addition to that I created a two-day film production workshop that I currently teach in Atlanta but have plans to expand to other cities moving forward.  Nashville, Charlotte, New Orleans, Chicago…..I’m coming soon.

BEST BETS – HOTELS  (Courtyard Marriott Downtown Amarillo)

When you drive cross country, you measure your trip by the cities that you encounter on the road. For the 2nd time, I recently drove from Atlanta to Los Angeles taking my highway of choice for such occasions – Interstate 40.  It travels from east to west its 2,555 miles of glorious scenery that keeps reminding you why America is so great. Since this was my 2nd trip on this great American highway, I wanted to visit cities that I had only passed through before, which is what how I had the good fortune to visit Amarillo, TX.. Located approximately in the middle of the Texas Panhandle, the city conjures up imagery of cowboys and cattle country; which is exactly what you see as you enter this part of the country.  Arriving in town shortly before sunset, I circled the town first to check out things before arriving at my host hotel for the night, the Courtyard Marriott in the downtown area of town.

Having stayed at Courtyard Marriott properties before, I had definite expectations of my accommodations – clean, comfortable, but nothing exciting. Well, this Marriott property proved me wrong. Well-located and fabulously appointed in a wonderful designed, historic building, it impressed me from the start. From its covered parking that is  conveniently located just steps from the entrance to its well-trained staff who made my check-in fast and quick, my experience at the property began just as all hotel stays should – with no and no drama.

My room just what the doctor ordered: oversized, designed in warm muted colors, with a nice king size bed – it was just the oasis that a driver on this long journey welcomes. The hotel is also supremely situated and well within most of nighttime restaurants and attractions in the downtown area. After a walk around to check out the scene I decided to take a hotel shuttle over to the Big Texan restaurant, which advertised the best beef in the area. That perhaps was an overstatement, but my meal was delicious nevertheless.

Upon my arrival back to the hotel, I took advantage of my close proximity to the nightlife by taking in a few drinks with some local Texans. Back in my room it was time for a truly decent night of sleep, a big Tex-Mex breakfast and then back on the road for my last full day before reaching The Golden State.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever drive across the country again, but if I do, I would highly recommend making the time for a stop in Amarillo. And if you do decide to stop in that friendly Texas town, make sure to book a your overnight stay at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. I strongly recommend.  Grade: A

Best Bets Theatre – “Lady Day”

The pain and glory of jazz icon Billie Holiday comes alive in the new stage musical “Lady Day”. Starring the supremely talented songstress Dee Dee Bridgewater, the off Broadway production (at the Little Shubert Theatre), frames the soul of the music legend’s life story on the night before an infamous performance in London.

Written and directed by Stephen Stahl and featuring signature songs from various periods of the troubled singer’s career that include “Miss Brown to You,” “Them There Eyes,” “All of Me,” “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Good Morning Heartache” and “A Foggy Day in London Town,” the production will remind audiences why Holiday was such an influencer in popular music. Throughout, Bridgewater is backed by an impressive array of musical theatre veterans that includes: three time Emmy winner composer Billy Jolly; veteran stage performer David Ayers and musician/actors, James Cammack, Neil Johnson and Jerome Jenkins.

In between musical numbers the production weaves in biographic details about the singer’s personal life that informs the audience why the late singer carried such heavy emotional baggage throughout her life. Overall the production succeeds in providing audiences with a great evening of music and a better understanding of a tormented diva’s life.

Grade: A


2013 Pathfinder SL

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has undergone a complete facelift that practically renders it to be a new car. With a new direction that moves away from its previous “truck-like” design, to focus more on style and comfort, the latest incarnation of the Pathfinder  is already capturing lots of attention for its new refinement and sharp performance.

Wow Factor:  Responding to shifting driver needs, the Pathfinder has succeeded in adapting into a crossover SUV that looks good  and performs great. Everybody is a winner with this ride, as it still offers the personality of its predecessors, combined with upgrades that will give it added appeal to a whole new demo of drivers.

Ride:  Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine the 2013 Pathfinder is capable of handling all but the most rigorous on the road demands. The ride’s improved suspension and XTRONIC CVT8 transmission offers additional advantages that should make it a high competitor in its class.

Comfort:   With plenty of room to accommodate the average family, the Pathfinder’s interior design also very clean and offers access to all operational controls. This ride also has very adequate storage space to meet most driver needs. (The second and third rows slide and recline to allow additional cargo space as needed.)  Another big plus that I liked a lot was its “around view monitor,” which is a great safety feature that adds additional coverage of the road and other cars around you.

Spin Control:  Competitively priced at about 30k and with a fuel economy that averages 22mpg, the Pathfinder will give drivers a great return on their investment. The designers at Nissan have done a great job of anticipating the needs of today’s drivers and I’m confident that they will respond in kind.

Grade:  A

Gil Robertson IV is a bestselling author and a veteran lifestyle journalist. He is president and founder of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the leading body of black film critics in the United States.


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