By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times
Add Ayanna Shon’s new film Christmas Hypnosis, now on Tubi, a free streaming app owned by Fox Corporation, to those movies available for viewing during this holiday season.
The Fairfield native and director describes her film as a faith-based dramedy.
It tells the story about a young lady name Nikki, a serial user of marijuana. She promised her overzealous mother and boyfriend she would stop smoking because she was pregnant. Her lie leads to having problems conceiving. Per her doctor’s request, she had to stop smoking marijuana in order to enhance her chances of getting pregnant by Christmas.
“They key takeaway will be faith and manifestation. Also understanding and recognizing that you’re more than enough and to seek forgiveness,” Shon said.
According to the film director, there are some dark moments between the main character Nikki and her mother. A lot has happened in Nikki’s younger years had been swept under the rug but would soon be revealed at the Christmas gathering.
Shon, who has been in the film industry since the early 2000s, said Christmas Hypnosis is her proudest accomplishment. “This [Christmas Hypnosis] was like my labor pain. This was the project that forced me to get out of my grieving. I lost my grandmother in February 2021 and we started production in May.”
“I wasn’t taking on any gigs. I wasn’t leaving the house,” she said.
At some point Shon knew she had to meet deadlines for the film therefore production began.
“This film was the one that pushed me to rise and fight through the grieving and labor pains that I had in order to give something back to my grandmother.”
To honor both her grandmothers, Shon made it a priority to do a dedication after the credits at the end of the movie.
Shon said she learned several lessons she is willing to share with others. “Keep taking baby steps. It is not going to be easy. Slow progress is still progress. Do it afraid, do it scared with or without money. Do it even if you have to do it by yourself. There are plenty of projects I’ve done alone. I had to direct, edit, write, shoot. Eventually it will come easier and eventually your village will find you. Most importantly don’t lose sight on the bigger picture by looking at the frame.”
Dreams of the Big Screen
Growing up in Fairfield, she was always surrounded by all things theatre. Her oldest brother Marc Raby, owns The Encore Theatre and Gallery located on the east side of Birmingham. “He has the only Black owned theatre in Birmingham. So I’ve been on the scene as it relates to entertainment. I just went into film and not theatre.”
After graduating from Fairfield High Preparatory School in 2005, Shon attended ITT Technical Institute to study Visual Communications and Film Design. During her studies she learned that her enthusiasm extended beyond the theatre.
“We had to write a short film. Before that I had already had a camera because I was big on the local music scene recording artist performances. But that group project routed me to film,” Shon said.
Although she didn’t immediately dive into films, she wanted to hone in on her craft by interviewing and recoding local artist during showcases that took place in Birmingham.
In order to be taken seriously she purchased her first camcorder from a pawn shop in Midfield for $120. It was a Panasonic Camcorder.”
After graduating from ITT in 2011, she moved to Orlando, Florida and enrolled in a film program at a school called F.I.R.S.T. Institute. “They had a 12-month film certificate program. Students would come in and learn everything related to pre-production to post-production.”
Shon moved back to Birmingham in 2015 and launched her film company CBA Film Studios, a family-owned company to small businesses, brands and entertainment. It is a full-service production business focusing on developing unique content with a concentration on green screen music video production.
She has since produced and directed numerous videos for local hip hop and R&B artists. Networking with local artist and disc jockeys landed her opportunities to work behind the scenes alongside other music video directors and producers.
Shon knows what it’s like to work in a male dominated field. “I think this is one of the most crucial times for any African American female looking to get into the film industry when it comes to being behind the scenes because more opportunities are being presented, not to say that you’re still not slighted because at the end of the day it is a male dominant industry,” she said. “Luckily, there have been some women who have trail blazed. When they walked through the door they actually left it open for us. There are directors, writers and producers that are African American that are turning around to help the next person. It is becoming more of a community now.”
She has set her sights high. “The goal is to be a household name on a larger scale and to create an outlet that not only produce the content I create but to also produce content from other filmmakers,” Shon said.
Christmas Hypnosis is available to watch for free on Tubi. To learn more about Shon follow her on Instagram @capturedbyayanna