The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture is to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Afro-Americans.
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Friday, February 15, 2019

“They liked my script – and it’s no Uncle Tom either.” – Horace Jackson



The son of a black coal yard worker and sibling to 20 brothas and sistas sets out to make a BLACK✊ film before black films were a thing again. Future writer/director Horace Jackson leaves behind his life in Philadelphia, PA and arrives in the City of Angels with just $17 in his pocket and some insurmountable goals.

Horace enrolls in City College of Los Angeles which he attends for three years before entering a career as a recreational director for city schools. During this time, Horace has also been working on a script for a long-shot feature film not suitable for white Hollywood. A friend of Horace tells him that his employer, Paramount Pictures, is ‘minority’ hiring and so Horace immediately applies - scoring the gig.

Horace spent most of his time at Paramount as a “Music Cutter’s apprentice” shuttling around film reels on a bicycle, but one day, Horace decided to take advantage of his new found proximate to power and reached out to a Paramount executive with his script in tow. The executive read over the manuscript, seemingly and surprisingly pleased, he made some calls….

All the doors began to open for Horace - calls came pouring in from various film institutions, labs, firms and companies eager to assist him on what could be a groundbreaking first, if successful. Horace went on to raise $175K from private sources and with the cooperation of the City of Compton, the path was paved to film what could be the first independently produced ‘blaxploitation’ feature.

Horace hired Wendall Franklin of TV’s The Bill Cosby Show (the first black man granted membership to the directors guild) as the film’s director. The actors were all USC graduate students for whom unions granted salary deferments to aid in the film’s tight budgetary and time constraints. Horace named his new production company “K-Calb Productions” (BLACK spelled backwards) and began filming the feature “The Bus Is Coming” in the streets of Compton, California on February 8th 1971 (two months before ‘Sweetback’ is released).

The production ran out of funding three-quarters the way through causing delays. Horace, determined to make the picture, used up his personal savings prompting the eviction of his wife and daughter from their home due to non-payment. The film’s future was ultimately secured when a casket dealer by the name of William Thompson interested in film distribution was convinced to invest by Horace, providing the remaining $50K needed to take the film over the finish line.

Filming and post-production was happening concurrent with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Shaft, but they would both beat The Bus Is Coming to theatrical distribution by just a few months, ultimately not earning it the same historical distinction often afforded to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song as “the first.”

The Bus is Coming opened to public audiences on September 29, 1971 at it’s world premiere in Detroit, Michigan, remembered by it’s long lines and anticipation, but in the end, The Bus Is Coming would not reach the stature and box office success of both ‘Sweetback’ and Shaft.

Horace Jackson would go onto write, produce and direct “Johnny Tough” in 1974 and Deliver Us From Evil in 1975. #blackhistory

This film is only available on VHS and DVD bootleg from VHS.

https://www.cinemaofsoul.com/the-bus-is-coming

- Article by Michael from Cinema of Soul

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