Morning Steep

Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Family, Drama

Landis Stokes

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $18,210 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

146 supporters | followers

Enter the amount you would like to pledge


A mother gives her young son, "the talk". For African American families, it's not about the "birds and the bees." It's about racism and prejudice.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Can you imagine telling a child people will hate him/her simply because of the way they look? Where do you start? How? Storytelling consistently brings people together and encourages conversation as well as empathy. We are filmmakers interested in telling stories about our common humanity.

The Story

We are thrilled to have reached our target goal! It is so exciting to know that we have the funds to make MORNING STEEP a reality. THANK YOU FOR BEING ON THIS JOURNEY WITH US!

We can’t wait to share MORNING STEEP with the world.


Film synopsis: Over a cup of tea, an African American mother introduces her young son to the realities of their cultural heritage.

A mother gives her son, "the talk". For African American families, it's not about "the birds and the bees." It's about racism and prejudice.

There is a time in every child’s development when they become aware of how they are similar and different from the people they are surrounded by. This is crucial for them in understanding how the world works and how they will navigate it.

One of my earliest, and now cherished, memories of my mother was the day she explained to me why I didn’t look like the rest of my classmates. My father was in the United States Air Force and we lived on several Air Force bases during my early childhood. Most schools, for the bases we lived on, were predominantly white so looking at my first class picture raised some questions.

I have never seen this, “slice of African American life,” ever depicted in film, television, or books although it is an inevitable conversation all African American parents have with their children.

For my experience, this was my mother expressing her love for me as her son and, to me, it was her first fundamental lesson about the realities of life. 

If not now... when?


We live in polarizing times. Apathy and willful ignorance are instrumental in the proliferation of racism and oppression.

In order to deepen our compassion, empower each other, and embrace our inherent diversity... we MUST TELL OUR STORIES.


Storytelling creates empathy. Empathy creates opportunities for conversation and connection. And we all crave some kind of connection with each other.

Landis Stokes is an Independent Filmmaker and Director of Photography. You may have seen his camera work on NBC, Spike TV, PBS, The WB, and a number of other networks.

Born overseas to a military family, Landis' father retired to Baltimore, Maryland. There Landis grew up and attended the Baltimore School of the Arts where he trained and studied in classical visual arts. Later he began his video and film studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before matriculating to the University of North Carolina, School for the Arts: School of Film where he earned his Bachelor's degree.

Landis' international directorial debut was his 2015 short film American Hikikomori. This Japanese language film played in multiple film festivals and won several awards. The film is currently available online at Amazon and Vimeo.


Kana Watanabe was born in Japan and moved to America to complete her higher education. 

Since completing her education, she has worked for a variety of global media agencies to hone her online marketing skills. Currently, she works as Director of Analytics at an award-winning media agency and leads the analytics team in evaluating media campaign performance across various marketing channels.

Although Kana works professionally in digital marketing, she has also been a story consultant and co-produced several low budget productions including American Hikikomori.


Like so many of us, after getting a taste of working on an actual film as an art dept. intern, I knew I had been bitten by the bug. I left my hometown of Philadelphia, and made the move out west in pursuit of my filmmaking dreams.

My first feature length opportunity was a Vietnam war documentary. I'm proud of my work on that project but, I did make a switch to the lighter fare and to a very different schedule of broadcast television immediately afterward. However my freelance tv production work continued. Over these last 16 years, through both directing and technical directing, I have been able to tell different types of stories about people from all walks of life. Returning to filmmaking for this latest project, Morning Steep, is a very personal full circle moment for me. I can say looking back over time, I have learned that these stories start with us and that we can make a difference.


Astra Price is a moving image specialist. Dedicated to the complex conversation between creation and preservation, she has worked with artists and institutions to find strategies for completion, display and preservation of new media work. She is currently working in the collections of Bill Viola, The OUTWORDS Archive, and Janie Geiser, and has worked with artists such as Lewis Klahr and Sylvère Lotringer in the past.

Her publications on preservation of time based media can be found in Leonardo and the IIC Journal. Astra’s is also an educator in digital media, having previously taught for over a decade at California Institute of the Arts. In addition to working with other artists, Astra is also an artist and filmmaker with a focus in experimental documentaries, including an upcoming film about  gender, representation and how history is written in a public sphere.


Melissa Center is an actress, filmmaker, and lead coach at The Kickstarter Guy. As an actor her credits range from a recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy to a tour of A Chorus Line. Her award-winning short, R.V, about the threat to women's reproductive rights, has reached over half a million people, and has won awards for it's social impact. Her feature film All I Want, is available for purchase on mulitple streaming platforms.


I'm an award-winning independent filmmaker, Philadelphia native, and proud alumna of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. For years, I have been involved with many independent productions.

Recently, I've taken the helm of writer/producer for short films, interview series, and a web series - with the goal of creating TV shows. Currently, my stories center on the alternative black experience... highlighting the punks and the nerds. In the bigger picture, the series that I create will reflect the world as I see it: diverse individuals with their own unique journeys, ultimately giving lesser-known groups a voice.


Filmmaking is expensive!

We are raising funds to make a short film that will not only highlight a nuance of African American culture but will also act as a catalyst to help audiences engage in constructive conversations about racism and prejudice across multiple cultures.

Contributing to our campaign not only means that you stand against racism & prejudice but also actively shows that you support African American art & culture.


All funds raised will go to:

  • our incredible cast
  • our skilled crew
  • production meals
  • Covid 19 PPE + a Covid 19 compliance officer
  • prop and equipment rentals
  • location fees and permits 

We are passionate about elevating artists and particularly people of color, and that includes paying them for their work.


You've made it this far down our page and we're absolutely stoked!

Your part is easy! Here are four ways you can help MORNING STEEP:

  • Contribute to our campaign and get some fun perks! Any amount, big or small, is greatly appreciated. Check out the side bar for a list of incentives.
  • Follow us on social media and share our campaign! Follow our film on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help get the word out.
  • Create a FREE Seed & Spark account and follow our page to help us qualify for free filmmaking resources from companies like Final Draft, The Black List, and Film Fund Grant
  • Give physical assets to the production! Do you have a house or know of a standing kitchen set that we can use as a shooting location? Or maybe you have meals that you can provide for our 1 day production? Connect with us and lets chat about in-kind contributions!

Don't have the funds to support? THAT'S OKAY!

Share our campaign with everyone you know! One click, one share, one message to anyone and everyone you feel will support our cause makes all the difference.

Feel free to copy and paste:


Face the truth, no matter how hard it may seem. Join us @

We don’t talk enough about the emotional burden parents carry trying to prepare their black children for a world filled with racism. Join us @

Every day comes with the opportunity to share your voice, your story, and what matters to you most. See what matters to us @

In order to deepen our compassion, empower each other, and embrace our inherent diversity... we MUST TELL OUR STORIES. Join us @

Everyone involved in this project believes in it's message and intent.

At the peak of the pandemic lockdown, the world witnessed a fraction of the brutality African Americans must navigate in their daily lives. I was furious and heartbroken all at once but not surprised that any of it could happen. Needless to say, we (as a nation) continue to face adversity on a daily basis.

Somehow, my mother taught me a hard lesson with loving intent, shrewd wisdom, and firm but tempered guidance. I see joy and love when I think about this precious moment from my childhood.

This film celebrates that loving relationship between a parent and child.



Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Film Permit

Costs $700

We need a Film Permit from the Film LA office to keep our film shoot legal.


Costs $1,050

We like to keep our cast & crew fed.

Production Insurance

Costs $500

Accidents can happen and we want to be covered just in case.

Location Fee

Costs $2,000

Location. Location. Location. (sigh...) LA is expensive.

Production Rentals

Costs $1,600

Grip, Electric, and Camera rentals. (GEAR)

Cast & Crew

Costs $9,150

Even with "favors" we are all professionals.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Our team consists of people who either work in the film & television industry or simply have a passion for storytelling that has a positive social impact.

Our hopes, for this film, are to continue conversations about the history of African Americans in the world as well as how we all treat each other as human beings.

Current Team