Steven Barnes @Black Women’s Film Festival

20130615_094140There were many guest appearances at the Black Women Film Festival held at Spelman College in the Cosby Auditorium. One of the many guest included the incredible writer Steven Barnes. Barnes is a writer, lecture, creative consultant, and human performance technician. He has written science fiction scripts for popular television shows like Baywatch, The Outer Limits, Star Gate, and From Cape Town with Love.  In addition, the “Stitch in Time” episode of The Outer Limits won the Emmy Award. Barnes has published 28 novels and over three million words of science fiction and fantasy. Some other cool points added to his impressive resume is his commitment to his family; a proud father of two children (daughter and son). Steven Barnes wore all of the many titles Saturday morning in his lecture/workshop the “Reel Business of Writing.”

Barnes introduced his new short film called Danger Word. Similar to movies World War Z and I Am Legend, this too is an apocalyptic horror film that shows a grandfather trying to protect his grand-daughter from a post apocalyptic world. The story is told from an African American perspective, giving it a slight difference than the other apocalyptic movies. After the brief viewing of his new film, and the Skype support sent from his wife (Tananarive Due), Barnes got down to business in his open discussion on film writing.

Barnes begins his lecture schooling the audience on the hero’s journey; a common writing structure seen throughout the world. This theory was discovered in the 1950’s and 60’s by Joseph Campbell, a mythologist Steven Barnes reference a lot in his speech. He particularly believes this writing method is “the only writing structure that can be applied to life.” As he explains: “The hero’s journey is about a man or woman who is presented with a challenge.” The challenge seems difficult due to fear. However, Barnes gives his audience ten steps a hero must go through to conquer fear.


He goes on to say that story telling is rebuilding what was taken away. Any person reading this can attest that rebuilding something that was stolen is not an easy task. When someone or something takes anything, it usually leaves that person damaged. Along with damage comes hurt. As Barnes’s continues to explain to his audience, this ultimately results to the feeling of failure. He also teaches his audience to ask two questions when this problem occurs: Who Am I and What I Know is True? Hopefully, a pin and paper are close by for notes…

Going to this event is what Opera would call a Life Class experience. Steven Barnes did not only give the aspiring writers tools to launch their writing careers for film and television; he gave writers tools to live, grow, and achieve in life. One could even say that Steven Barnes used the hero mythology for his success. If this statement is true, it would not be a surprise. With his anticipating short film, Danger Words, directed by Luchina Fisher and starring the veteran actor Frankie Faison, it is safe to say that mister Barnes has mastered more than being an exceptional writer.