This Mother’s Day, I want to celebrate my own Copper Mom, cancer survivor and Emmy-award winning producer, Roberta Jones. What a mouthful.
After a battle with cancer five years ago, she’s now set her sights on the silver screen. Roberta is currently preparing to shoot her first feature film, the Animator. Set in her hometown, the city of Chicago, the Animator tells the story of a man who is able to draw the future, and erase the past:
C: How did you feel when you first learned you had cancer?
R: I was numb. My doctor called me so fast after the CT scan, I hadn’t even left the parking lot! She said I had a mass on my kidney. It turned out to measure a huge 17+ centimeters! I had felt some pain in the area, but only when pressed upon.
C: You’ve begun to pursue a new journey at this phase in your life. Did you ever feel that you couldn’t do it?
R: I’m 62 years old. At a time when most people are retiring, I’m embarking on making my first feature film! This whole idea would be impossible in my own strength, but nothing’s too hard for God. I just learned that in Chicago, independent films produced by African Americans featuring African American actors are almost non-existent. Which can only mean one thing: I’ll either make one movie per year, or if God sends me producing partners, make a whole slate of them.
“I’m 62 years old. At a time when most people are retiring, I’m embarking on making my first feature film!”
C: What was your inspiration for the film?
R: During my convalescence after the initial surgery, and three others to treat serious complications, it was very tough. But when I learned the cancer was gone, I wondered why God had spared me when so many others don’t survive. I began to ask God to show me what His purpose was for my life. I had been pursuing screenwriting for several years by this time. One day He gave me the seed idea for Animator. When He gave me this high concept screenplay, I knew what my purpose was: to bring it to the screen. When God gives you an assignment, it’s impossible to fail.
C: This past Oscar season, a light was shed on the lack of diversity in film. You mentioned that there’s also a dearth of African American screenwriters in Chicago. How does that impact this project for you?
R: I’m looking to Chicago talent to improve that scenario in the future. Everyone shouldn’t have to move to LA to get quality roles. Let’s put Chicago on the movie map!
C: What advice would you give filmmakers who are looking to make an independent film?
R: Start with a great script, and the rest falls into place. There are great script consultants out there. Use them!
C: What do you want to tell women who are battling cancer?
R: Look to God for strength. Whatever the outcome, He’s in control. If you’re not getting the answer you’re praying for remember this: Some souls are so dear to Him, He wants them with Him now.
Watch the concept trailer and interviews with the creators below: