48 Hour Film Project leads to full-length feature film in Buffalo

I had the pleasure of interviewing Johnette “JA” Warren-Askew about the upcoming “Line of Sight Vision Launch” Fundraiser Event on March 15th at Seneca One (tickets available at for the production of the full-length feature film “Line of Sight.”

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am the Owner and CEO of Expressed Entertainment. I am a writer, spoken word artist, indie film director, and producer. A proud Lupus Warrior and National Kidney Foundation Advocate. I am a creative through and through, born and raised here in Buffalo. Because of that, the young creatives are a priority to me. That’s why my husband and I also do a summer youth program for young creatives called EXE Jr

What is the project you are working on?

The project itself is the “Line of Sight” feature-length film. It is a spinoff of the short film we produced for the Buffalo 48Hour Film Project.  The short film received such positive feedback, and everyone kept asking us what would happen next because it left the audience on a cliffhanger. People were so invested in the characters and the story we were telling they needed to know how the story ended for everyone. From there, we went back to the writer’s room to finish telling the story through a full-length script.

How is it different from the short film?

Well, the short film has a lot of restrictions. We only had about 8 minutes to tell the whole story so we did not have the space to fully develop the characters. In the feature length, you will get to know the characters more and better understand their motivations. With more time and space, we were able to add some new interesting characters to the story. We elaborated on the beginning, but it’s the same premise. The kidnapping happens in the beginning, but you get to see more about how it happens, and that twist becomes an even bigger twist at the end. We really enjoyed writing this piece and adding some new twists and turns to the script, so I’m pretty excited for the audience to see how the story has grown.

Without giving away the end, is there some sort of resolution to the story?

There is a resolution, but we still leave a little something out there.

Who is on the team for the feature-length film? 

We had the privilege of growing our team From the Buffalo 48-Hour Film Project team. Once people saw that project, it was easy to say, “We are looking for people to fill these positions, are you interested?” Our team has really grown. But the main person who has been on my team since the beginning is my husband Marvin Askew II. He is a digital cinematographer and our Director of Photography. He just retired from the Air Force. I went from being in the Air Force myself to being a military wife. So now we get to pursue this together full-time, which is really exciting. 

Tell me about the upcoming fundraiser.

The fundraiser is our “Line of Sight Vision Launch” Event. It’s happening on March 15 at Seneca One. Tickets are $25 and are available on the website. We will also have “Line of Sight” merch available for sale at the event and afterward. People who donate a minimum of $25 that night will get an exclusive “Line of Sight” gift. The happy hour starts at 5 PM. Everyone is welcome to come in and network and have some drinks. There will be some great food made by T&C Catering, and then the film starts at 6 PM. Now, the film that we are showing is a previous feature-length film we did called “The Glass Floor,” which won a couple of awards at the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival. It was my first baby, my first feature-length film, and we did it completely out of pocket. While the cinematography was great, we had some sound issues. Marvin digitally remastered it, completely re-doing the sound and the music. Now the film looks and sounds great. We are showing that film as part of the fundraiser to show people what we did without a budget and to imagine what we could do with the funding we are trying to raise for this next feature-length film. We will have a special viewing of the short film and a Q&A with myself, Marvin, and some of the cast.

After the fundraiser, what are the next steps for the film? 

We have already finished auditions for our core cast. We still need to pick up some extras. We have the majority of our crew in place. We are now finalizing our locations, getting sponsors, and product placements. Preproduction has been going very well. We start production in mid-June through mid-July. We are riding the momentum while we have it, since everybody has been so excited about this project, we want to capitalize on that.

The Glass Floor project was filmed in two weeks because Marvin could only get two weeks off from the military. And we did so with what we had in our pockets.  The film came out good enough to win two awards at the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival, including “Most Promising New Filmmaker.” I feel if we could do that well with no budget in only two weeks, imagine what we can do with the budget. We have been blessed to have really great people work alongside us.

After the Buffalo 48-Hour Film Project in August, we got right back into the writing room in September. When we showed our short film to the actors the night that we submitted it, the reaction was like, “Oh goodness, we need to work on this some more!” I asked, “Who wants to work on a full-length feature film…” And everybody raised their hand. I almost cried. I was so touched!

What are your goals for this project? 

We want to enter it into some of the larger film festivals and see where it goes. I’m hoping that we get some great attention for this film. One of the things that the film highlights is the plight of parents of missing children. Part of the inspiration for this project came from my work with the youth I mentioned earlier over the summer. My husband and I teach an introduction to audio and video production, photography, and spoken word. Our young ladies chose to do a podcast, and the object was to inform their peers about a meaningful topic. They decided to talk about some of the kidnappings that had been happening that they had seen a Facebook post but that the news wasn’t covered. They were truly upset by it. That was still heavy on my heart because the program ended in mid-August. So we were with them while we were getting ready to do the Buffalo 48-Hour Film Project. It was on my mind when we went into the writing room. So, one of the things that I would love with this film is to bring attention to that topic. I would be honored to partner with an organization that works on behalf of missing and exploited children to highlight that issue, especially in our community.  

That’s part of the mission behind what Marvin and I do, we want to make movies that matter. We want to make films that shed light on topics that are thought-provoking and do more than just entertain. Not just your typical “Black film.” We want to show the different facets of our community.

What else do you want the WNY community to know?

This is Buffalo. Our team is all people from Buffalo. We are highlighting an issue that is happening in Buffalo. We are showcasing businesses from Buffalo throughout the project. The music is all from Buffalo artists. So, this is a Buffalo project through and through. We are very excited about that as well.

Head to Seneca One on March 15th, 2024, at 5 p.m. to support this fantastic local event and business. Tickets are available on their website at

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