Inequality Drives This Founder To Make Atlanta The LGBT Motion Picture Capital

Written by Dana Sanchez

Anthony Bawn moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta with the goal of bringing the black gay narrative mainstream — seemingly an odd choice of directions at first glance.

His vision is to turn the Georgia capital into the motion picture capital for the LGBT community.

Bawn’s video streaming network, BawnTelevision, focuses on producing original series and films that viewers can watch from any device.

“Cheetah in August,” a recent project, is an Amazon Prime series that chronicles the life of a fictional character, track star August “Cheetah” Chandler.
Among other awards, “Cheetah in August” won Best Web Series at Out In Atlanta 2016, and Bawn won the Special Programming Award for Best Emerging Talent at Outfest 2017.

A native of Gainesville, FL, Bawn began his career as a record label but he wanted to act, so he switched to film and TV.

Becoming a founder was, to a large extent, motivated by his desire for equality, Bawn said in a Moguldom interview.

“I hated the notion of selling myself to an industry that really don’t see us as equals. So I wanted to create my own shit.”

Moving to Atlanta was part of Bawn’s effort to expand his company and secure more funding to produce more original content, he said in a December Georgia Voice interview:
“The lack of black gay representation in the media is evident and the current LGBT networks are not interested in broadcasting our stories. So hence the development of Bawn Television.”
Bawn has an iPhone app available for download. Apple iTunes invites shoppers to “subscribe to (Bawn) to gain access to one of the largest black-owned LGBT streaming networks in the world,” for $4.99 a month.
Here’s more of Bawn’s interview with Moguldom.com.

LGBT motion picture capital

 

Moguldom: You want to bring the black gay narrative mainstream. Why is Atlanta a better place to do that than Los Angeles?

Anthony Bawn: Atlanta is currently the Black gay mega capital, whether or not they want to say it, but it is. Both cities are very different. I find it more difficult to secure professional talent in Atlanta or they don’t want to take a chance in this industry.

Perception is everything. Black gays in Atlanta are not willing to take a chance to review prior work instead of prejudging, but hey, I guess that’s just me. But either city works for the LGBT industry.

Moguldom: How has Bawn Television grown since moving to Atlanta?

Anthony Bawn: Since locating here we have partnered with a cable network, which at the moment I can’t (name) until contracts are secured. We have filmed and developed the following series here in Atlanta:
  • H.I.M,” an original series based off the novel, “About Him” by Tyson Anthony.
  • District,” an original drama series also written by Tyson Anthony starring Tami Roman and Brandon Anthony.
  • “Blackville,” an original church drama series that we will start filming next week to be released later this year.
However, I still plan to build a TV studio here in Atlanta for production purposes. So we will see how the future will be.

Moguldom: Tell me about your journey as a black founder and entrepreneur.

Anthony Bawn: I started my first business as a record label and signed my now husband. I started in the music industry before changing over to film and TV.

I have a degree in theatre and music so it’s been kind of divine for me be in this position. I’ve always wanted to be an actor but fell into directing and felt that I hated the notion of selling myself to an industry that really don’t see us as equals. So I wanted to create my own shit.

Moguldom: Have you received venture capital or other funding, and from whom?

Anthony Bawn: No. Every project we have produced has been an out-of-pocket expense. My husband can attest to this, and everything we put on the line to build this network.

Moguldom: What is it like to be black in the gay community?

Anthony Bawn: For me, I see that I must hold a firm stance in the progress of the film and TV industry in the gay community. There are only a few other content creators that attempt to tell a positive, impactful story that audiences can relate to.

Others are too consumed with putting sex at the forefront. The “signal” is lost and you only have a porn series with a weak script. So I attempt to make all my shows that can be on HBO, Showtime, Netflix, or Amazon.

But it’s our job to change the way people view our experiences. It’s the audience’s job to react accordingly.

Moguldom: What is it like to be gay in the black community?

Anthony Bawn: Gay is like tomato or tomatoes. People want to identify with what they want to be labeled as — if they even want labels. So I say to each is its own.

Moguldom: Who is your competition?

Anthony Bawn: Though there are various different LGBT networks, we all operate on different business models. Bawn Television stands alone for how we take time to develop series and not rush to just spit anything out. We are striving to make all content we produce be on our network and not on YouTube or any other free streaming platform.

Moguldom: Who do you want to emulate/who is your inspiration?

Anthony Bawn: My inspiration for Bawn Television is to someday be as large as Netflix.

Moguldom: How do you differentiate BawnTV?

Anthony Bawn: Our content makes us different. The style, talent, concept, production, value etc. I strive to make our shows TV-ready.

Moguldom: I have not seen BawnTV mentioned much in the mainstream media. Is this a problem? Why? How do you hope to overcome it?

Anthony Bawn: Bawn Television is in its beta stages and will be gaining more attention. The issues we have is lack of funding. We put more funding into the production of our shows and use social media as a marketing tool with hopes of possibly going virtual. But I am working on securing partnerships and grants to help obtain the exposure we are seeking.

 

 

 

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About Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez is the editor of Moguldom.com and AFKInsider.com. She has worked in digital and print news media as a business writer and news editor. She has a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. Prior to working in news, Dana worked in advertising.

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