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Biography #2

GEORGE TILLMAN, JR. earned high critical marks for Soul Food, his 1998 dramatic feature for Fox 2000 Pictures, which he wrote and directed.

George Tillman Jr. began making short, experimental video projects as a teenager in Milwaukee and created a show for public access cable called Splice of Life, using the local talent. He went on to study film and video at Columbia College in Chicago. There he made the award-winning 30-minute short Paula, which established him as a filmmaker with an original vision that challenged convention. The film followed the story of a 17-year-old single black mother who works in a diner yet inspires the people around her more than any big-time hero. Paula was awarded the Midwestern Student Academy Award and went on to win prizes at seven student film festivals, including the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Award.

Bolstered by the success of Paula, Tillman wrote and directed the feature Scenes For the Soul, which combines three different dramatic stories from urban Milwaukee. He and longtime producer Robert Teitel raised $150,000 through a group of Chicago investors to finance the film. When the film was completed, Tillman had exactly $400 left in his pocket, but he drove with Teitel to Los Angeles and sold the film to Savoy Pictures for one million dollars.

Following on the momentum of this success, Tillman began to write Soul Food, which originated with his hunger to make a deeply entertaining, imaginative, from-the-heart story about a contemporary African-American family. He based the story on his own childhood experience growing up in his family. When Tillman approached Kenneth Babyface Edmonds with the idea of producing a soundtrack to accompany the film, Edmonds loved the story so much that he brought it to Fox 2000 Pictures.

As a result of Soul Food's success, Tillman and his producing partner, Robert Teitel, landed a two year, first look deal at Fox 2000 Pictures. State Street Pictures became their company's new name — a reference to their early film years in Chicago.

updated 22-Aug-2002