The stories and art that come out of Brooklyn have been well-documented by the likes of Spike Lee and various filmmakers/storytellers that bring the vivid visions to life. Add Attika J. Torrence to the list of esteemed artists making waves in that creative universe. Torrence is an Emmy Award-nominated producer, an award-winning director, an actor, screenplay writer, and novelist, who has also thrown his hat in the publishing arena by starting his own company, At The Top Publishing.
Despite the recent pandemic altering his 2020 plans, Torrence is still hard at work. The Industry Cosign was able to connect with him to get his views and outlook for the future and to discuss what he has going on.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to working on projects and how has your experience kept you grounded when it comes to working your craft?
I draw my inspiration from life. Life keeps me motivated to create and express myself through art!
Regarding remaining grounded, I know that everything in this industry—all of the accolades, red carpets, awards, nominations, etc.—are all a byproduct of the work. The more good work you put out, the more you’re poppin’. You go cold… folks become tough to get in touch with.
Besides, I’m from Brooklyn so that Hollywood stuff doesn’t move me.
As a founding partner and producer of the Brooklyn FAM (film, arts, and media) Conference along with actor Jamie Hector, what goes into an event like this?
Fortunately, I have a great team and we all have a track record for producing dope events for the film and arts community. Jamie, aside from being a brilliant talent as an actor, is a visionary, a humanitarian, and an activist through the arts. The most challenging aspect of producing this event is securing funding and sponsors. Once that’s done, the rest is pretty much a cakewalk. The goal is to create an experience that lives with people beyond the event and we have successfully been able to do that for the past two years going into our third year.
As many creative people do, you’ve branched out and created your own publishing company. Why did you do so and what should we anticipate from this entity?
I’ve always lived in the world of “create your own.” Everybody doesn’t get your vision and they’re not supposed to. Also, the way business works, people want to make a killing off of your work/talent. If you figure out the way to make the lion’s share of the profit from your work, then you’re winning in the game. My goal was to create a company that can publish the works I create. As a new novelist, I wasn’t trying to hear the pennies on the dollar that publishing companies want to pay you for your work.
Although ATT Publishing L.L.C. was created to produce, publish, and distribute my projects, I have been approached by a few people to do the same for them so we will see where we go from here.
How has the current coronavirus pandemic affected the work you do and/or the way you create now?
The coronavirus pandemic has affected my work significantly. I have had to postpone a movie that I wrote and I was scheduled to produce and direct in May. We were in development in March, were preparing to go into preproduction in April and start production in May. Due to the pandemic, we had to shut it down in March.
What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in the arts?
Become very skilled at your craft. Become the person that when people think of what you do, they think of you. Continue to do that … grow with growth. Don’t balk at growth because if you do you’ll be Blockbuster and a Netflix will knock you out. Raise the next leaders in your field. Be the change you seek. Be that person to someone that you needed to help you when you started whether that person helped you or not.
Attika J. Torrence