Brendon Hudson, Adam McFarland and Mitchell Branden Rogers are aspiring producers, whose film “Contraban” was featured in last spring’s Pan African Film Festival. In May, the trio learned that they won the festival’s Audience Favorite: Short Narrative award.

“Contraband,” which was written and directed by Chelsea Hicks, and is set in a futuristic imaginary world where Whites are the minority and the government has imposed a ban on all people of color. They can not have children. Violators face life in prison or death until the White population can get their numbers back up.  

“One couple is tired of the ban, and have a baby,” Hudson said, explaining the crux of the dystopian film’s conflict. 

McFarland, Rogers and Hudson had been working separate corporate media jobs: McFarland, originally from Shreveport, La., worked in music; Hudson, who is from Wilmington Del., is an actor and Rogers, a Compton native, is in product development.

The three met at Morehouse College as freshmen in 2006 and are Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers. 

They knew Hicks, a first-time writer who had completed a script during a graduate school class, and they really wanted to help bring her story to life, otherwise they felt the script—which they thought was incredible—was going to die a quiet death.

“One day we were sitting around and asked ‘why can’t we produce this?’” Hudson said. “We started figuring it out and then Mitch found the John Singleton competition.”

Inspired by the legacy of the late Los Angeles-born African-American filmmaker, the ‘John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition’ is the result of a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Pan African Film Festival under former L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson’s embRACE L.A. initiative.

More than 5,000 scripts applied in 2020. That year, “Contraban” was one of three projects chosen to receive the $20,000 prize to help with the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film. 

After naming their group “4Cards Media,” the new production company raised the additional funds to complete the venture.

“We were still working our day jobs,” Hudson said. “But we decided this was something we could do on our own.” 

The team is currently working to get the short film into the festival circuit, but meanwhile they are basking in their new award.

“We’re super excited about it, especially it being our first one as a production company,” said Hudson.

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