London Williams Promoter turned Producer

By Kim Wilcott Harris

 London Williams could be called a Renaissance Man. The former concert promoter turned film and television producer was introduced to these mediums as a floor manager for Dallas Community Television (formerly Cable Access Dallas) and Project FX Productions. He was also an event photographer for Soul & Salsa Magazine, and as a former college professor at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Over the past four decades, Williams’ eclectic taste in film and television – from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds to Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone to John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood, has significantly contributed to his gift for storytelling. These early influences bear witness to quite an impressive resume. To date, Williams has produced several short films whose titles include: Capital Inferno (2017), Hidden Ties (2017), and Varnel (2020). He has also produced a number of features – the first of which was Black Funk (2017), a sensual tale of anger, love, and pain available on Amazon Prime. Other titles under his belt include: Black Diamond (2019), the documentary Natural Hair the Movie (2019), and the horror/thriller Twelve (2020). Williams recently sat down with Soul and Salsa to reminisce on past endeavors and to discuss his latest project Bid for Love 2.

Tell us about your days as a concert promoter, and who were some of your favorite artists you booked?

Being an independent concert promoter during the late 1990s and early 2000s was very demanding. You had to approach promotions from a business point of view – following the weekly performance metrics in order to be successful. In general, music acts on the Billboard Top 10 or in heavy rotation on radio got promoted properly. I started at a time when the music industry didn’t really know what to do with hip hop artists. I worked with larger promotion companies who would sell what was known as spot dates. These were dates they would sell to secondary or tertiary markets in smaller metro areas to local promoters for artists they were not really interested in promoting. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to work with more popular artists like Jay Z and DMX on the “Hard Knock Life Tour” and more established acts like The Isley Brothers on the “Mission to Please Tour.”

What were some of your favorite shoots and what made them special?

My days as a photographer for Soul and Salsa Magazine were amazing. My favorite shoots were during Couture Fashion Week in New York. We literally had to fight for space near the runway. I would have my old Hasselbad film camera in one hand I’d bought at a garage sale, and my Nikon DSLR digital in the other. What really made these shows special for me was dealing with the different personalities like those of the designers and people in hair and makeup. But I really enjoyed the attention to detail, like lighting, background, etc. for each shot.</p>

What was it like having a media pass?

It offered me several benefits, one being that I was given entry into restricted areas at press conferences. I had exclusive access to filmmakers, actors, and other industry professionals for interviews and networking opportunities with those I wanted to work with in the future.

Do you have a favorite story from those days?

One of my favorite stories was when I attended a press conference and ended up sitting next to one of my favorite actors. I introduced myself and eventually we were able to work on a project together.

With your academic background, should we call you Dr. Williams?

I do have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, a Master’s in Marketing, as well as a Doctorate in Business Administration. My film studies came later. Needless to say, the title doctor does not really matter in the film industry, because there you are judged by your box office success.

Did you enjoy teaching at one of the most prestigious universities in Dallas?

Yes. I enjoyed teaching at SMU, where I taught undergrad classes in Physiology and Sports Management, as well as graduate level courses at The University of Dallas College of Business. The joy of teaching provided intellectual stimulation, because you not only learn from the material, you also learn from the students. Sharing knowledge and impacting students’ lives in an academic environment has its own rewards.

What made you leave academia to pursue a career in film?

Actually, I left my position at SMU to become a professor at Baruch College in New York City to pay for film school at The Digital Film Academy in New York. I taught classes during the day, and took afternoon and evening courses. I tried to keep the two worlds from overlapping, but my cover was blown one weekend while working on a motion picture. While filming, I ran into some of my students. Without going in too much detail, the encounter was both hilarious and revealing. Next class period, some of them asked if they could be part of the project, but I had to decline. I felt it would be a conflict of interest.

What were some of the major challenges you faced during your time at NYUThe Digital Film Academy, and how did they contribute to your overall growth as a producer?

During that time, I had limited financial resources. My saving grace was the fact that I had access to great equipment and eager crew members. This taught me to be more creative, resourceful, and innovative in order to achieve my goals without compromising on quality. Some of the tools I am able to utilize from that experience are time management, collaborative problem solving, creative critique and feedback, as well as balancing my artistic vision practically with budget constraints. Overall, film school offered a structured and supportive way for me to learn, experiment, and grow. This helped to shape my production skills, my mindset, and my approach to filmmaking. NYU The Digital Film Academy also prepared me for the complexities and demands of the film industry I would later face. How did growing up in Dallas influence your passion for film?

My upbringing in Dallas fueled my desire to showcase the city in a positive light. I always wanted to use and uplift local actors who were serious about their craft.

The most recent film you produced is Bid for Love 2. Can you give us a brief synopsis of the film?

Bid for Love 2 is the sequel to Bid for Love, and is now streaming on BET, BET+, and BETher. The story follows protagonist Sasha, played by Dawn Halfkenny, as she tries to recover from a stint in prison, and many failed relationships by trying her luck dating an ideal, stable man. While seeking therapy, life comes at her fast when her presumed dead ex-boyfriend, Memphis, played by Blue Kimble, mysteriously returns. It’s the first Black film of this scale to be produced in Dallas. My hope is for the project will become a television series with the local backdrop of Dallas similar to what Power did for NYC or Queen Sugar did for New Orleans. The cast also includes: Eva Marcille (Linda), Clifton Powell (Haywood), David Banner (Adam Baraka), Dallas’ own Nanette Lee (Bobbie), and Nikki Dixon (Jewel). 

For how to break down the film’s budget chose the vendors, read the full article at