This post was written by Donavan Myles Edwards.

Before I joined the Utah Jazz, I focused a lot on narrative filmmaking. I directed a short film, wrote a bunch of scripts, and I worked on a feature film as well. So once I got to Utah and spent a couple of weeks settling in, I started to think of possible ways we could do a short film at the Jazz.

Luckily, the opportunity came early in the form of Black History Month. 

A couple of hours before a BHM brainstorm meeting, I came up with the idea of Sunday Dinner. It was a combination of missing my family back home and listening to slowed and reverb R&B music. Music has always been a huge inspiration for me when I write my films. So when I started listening to these songs, it really brought back a lot of prior thoughts and feelings. When it was time for the meeting, I pitched the idea, and everyone loved it. Then I just had to write the script, and that took a couple of weeks just to ensure it was the best story possible. 

Check it out below and read how I got it done. 

How I Got Funding for My Short Film 

One of the best things about this project was all the filmmakers and vendors that made sacrifices. This wasn’t the most lucrative film in the world. It very much felt like an indie film. Which I personally love.

Everyone was on the project for the right reasons. I have a lot of respect for the Jazz. Not too many companies would trust a 21-year-old filmmaker who didn’t go to film school and just joined the company five months before to make a film of this magnitude. So I feel super blessed.

The Process of Making Sunday Dinner 

The making of this film was a unique one for me. Since I work for the Utah Jazz, I had other responsibilities to think about. So I couldn’t just dive deep into Sunday Dinner and forget about everything else.

But with everything on my plate, pre-production and production went smoothly. Everything went according to plan, and I couldn’t be more thankful. We had a pre-light day, then filmed two days back-to-back. 

After we wrapped on set, things started to get a little more hectic, though. I had a week and a half to edit the entire film. With teasers and promo edits being thrown in as well.

I didn’t want anyone looking over my shoulder at the office while I worked, so I worked from home. I wanted to keep it a surprise. But my apartment has huge windows with the sun constantly beaming in so I edited the entire film on the floor in my closet/laundry room. It was worth it.


The Purpose and Goal of This Film

My first goal with Sunday Dinner was to tell a story that anyone could relate to. This film is a part of our Black History Month campaign, so it obviously had to depict my people in the right way. Secondly, the film had to touch the Utah community, which is different from most places in the U.S. And third, it had to make sense for the Utah Jazz.

And I think I accomplished all of that. The story at its core is simple. It’s a story about empathy and understanding, and that’s a theme you can take away and apply to any part of your life. I’m super blessed to share this personal and intimate story with the world. I hope that people watch Sunday Dinner and say, “Damn, the Utah Jazz made this? I love it, what else are they doing?”

But most importantly, I want the audience to check up on their family afterward and start a much-needed dialogue about family and what that really means.

Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Donavan Myles Edwards is a 21-year old, self-taught, and award-winning filmmaker. Currently residing in Salt Lake City, UT, Donavan works on the creative team for the Utah Jazz.