Aaron Lide, Jr. - Black Fly on the Wall Productions
- Hosted August 03, 2020
- By Admin
Growing up, Aaron Lide Jr. believed that Black men needed to be tough guys, always come prepared with an answer, and remain “strong and silent.”
“A lot of times the Black community—especially Black men—struggle with communication,” says Aaron, who grew up in a small, low-income town in North Carolina.
With his business, Black Fly on the Wall Productions, he’s hoping to change that. Through his company, he created Black Fly on the Wall, a web-based miniseries available on Youtube. It offers a unique opportunity for open communication among young Black men in their 20s and 30s.
Filmed in black and white, in cinéma vérité fashion and in various cities North Carolina—Winston-Salem and Charlotte—the first episode of the series revolved around the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by police.
Since the inaugural December 2017 episode, the series—now filmed in color—has since covered a range of sensitive, timely topics, such as sex and relationships, race, politics, emotional self-awareness, and masculinity.
Black Fly on the Wall, which kicked off its third season in August, is reminiscent of the 1994 documentary The Color of Fear, where men from different racial and ethnic backgrounds discuss race relations in the United States.
“The concept of Black Fly on the Wall is allowing you to be a black fly on the wall during the conversations of Black men, which is something that isn’t traditionally available to the public,” Aaron says. “My entire platform is about social reform. I love producing content, and seeing people’s reaction to it. Even if I never made a dollar from it, I would continue doing it.”
We sat down with Aaron to learn about the impetus behind his passion project, the need for raw, in-the-moment conversations in the Black community, and tips on balancing his series with full-time employment.
The Need for a Safe Space
It wasn’t until he went to therapy that Aaron overcame some of his own challenges around communicating openly and effectively. Therapy also helped him experience groundbreaking moments with his father.
“My father opened up to me about things he would have never opened up to about in his lifetime—childhood traumas, things that would just completely blow your mind,” he explains. “But the truth into an abyss of communication has formulated and opened our relationship up to a whole new level, because there’s now vulnerability on both sides.”
Aaron attributes it partly to intergenerational patterns. As an enslaved person, his great grandfather couldn’t speak his mind. “The effects of being quiet, staying low to survive, and dealing with the pain and hardships of civil injustice get passed on,” he says.
On Carving Time for a Passion Project
At the moment, Black Fly on the Wall is a passion project. An occupational therapist by day, Aaron has learned how to carefully allocate his time.
Efficient time management. He spends his nights and weekends working on his series. Working with nearly 20 collaborators, including cast and crew, the production schedule includes shooting eight episodes within a single day.
Self-funding projects. Aaron not only devotes his spare time to his budding business venture, he has also invested his own money into it. Part of the reason is so he can focus on creating content from the heart.
He is also well aware that passion projects can take time to monetize. “It starts off by feeding,” he says. “You’re watering your seeds. And there’s a lot of hard work that goes into planting and harvesting your seeds.”
Adjusting After COVID-19
While the coronavirus outbreak halted production and pushed back the release date of the third season, it turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.
“The world is suffering, and social injustices continue to rise,” Aaron says. “But this is the perfect time for a company like mine to make strides, to provide positive content online.”
What’s Next for Black Fly on the Wall
The third season will continue to expand the conversation that young Black men in their 20s and 30s have in private. For the first time, a gay Black man and a more mature cast member—a middle-aged college professor—will participate in the show.
Using social media platforms. Aaron and his collaborators plan on increasing social media presence to amplify the brand and promote the episodes in Season 3.
Cultivating partnerships with larger companies. “With more people at home, they’re looking for things to stimulate their mind on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat,” Aaron says. “These sites are flooded with social injustice topics, hosted articles— things that relate to us.”
While they have some local sponsors, such as the local barbershop where the filming takes place, they would like to develop partnerships with larger businesses, particularly Fortune 500 companies that have said they support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Creating greater opportunities. Aaron and his team have started putting their heads together to create more opportunities for themselves.
So what’s in store for the series? Aaron envisions his show on a major streaming platform where people can view Black men discuss the topics of sex, experiences in the mental health system and therapy, and their challenging relationships with their mothers.
They also realize the importance and relevance his show has during these sociopolitically turbulent times, and his team has committed to expanding Black Fly’s reach.
“The show started off as a project that was something that fed me and my friends,” Aaron says. “But now it’s time to put our heads down and go full steam ahead. We have a responsibility to make sure we keep this conversation going, and to take it to a whole ‘nother level.”
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