Unsung – The Short Story of Vaughn Christion

The Vaughn Christion story is an American story, an African American one. But before we get into the trenches on that fact, I would like to mention something one of my mentors once told me, as it very much underscores those inequities, injustices, and improprieties that survive the African American diaspora, which includes the Vaughn Christion dilemma. My mentor told me “The definition of the word fair is a circus, a carnival, and white people”. Let that marinate for a minute.

Vaughn Christion has been in the filmmaking industry for well over 30 years and has grown exponentially in knowledge, understanding, and creativity. His first full-length feature of note, Silent Death, made its debut on the silver screen at the late Paramount Theater, back when Newark, NJ had a downtown where a number of movie theaters lived. Although more than a few stars shy of the caliber of film that would send Siskel and Ebert into a tirade of titillating joy, Silent Death laid the pathway for more study, better preparation, more eclectic expression, and the patient perseverance that would characterize Reina Productions (his production company) in the decades to come.

Mr. Christion displays such impressive incremental growth over his years of DIY filmmaking, squeezing the life out of each resource, on a path of “problem-solving” (as he calls it) carrying a concept on his back, all the way over the finish line. There are a number of them: The Wrong DiscipleHeavenWildflowerA Key of Brown – and most recently “The Yaku and the Undefeated”.  From script to screen, and the journey in-between, Vaughn Christion has mastered the art of riding the bull, weathering the storm, and maintaining composure to bring his projects to fruition.  The road that runs through the “School of Hard Knocks” for independent film-making is filled with – dare I say – paved with, thousands of would-be, could-have-been, almost was, filmmakers who obviously were not built to withstand the category 10, and above, winds of encumbrance inherent in such an undertaking, but Vaughn Christion has distinguished himself as a contender in the arena, and would be a wealth of knowledge to young aspiring artists.  He doesn’t lack talent, or ideas, or skills of execution – he lacks funding and recognition.

Vaughn Christion is an American filmmaker, and if you missed it up top, he happens to be African American. Newark-bred, his roots run deep into its soil; soil once tainted by the blood of rebellion, followed by footprints of white flight, all within the backdrop of an urban blight that lasted for decades, where resources dwindled to near invisibility. It is within these challenging dynamics that his incorrigible qualities of “never say die” were born. He is the quintessential genius of the “shoestring budget”, the Czar of traversing insurmountable odds, and the undisputed Maestro of many hats”, and the fact that no one knows of his conquests in film-making begs the questions surrounding the phenomenon of “fair play”. But when you’re black and Newark bred you become adept in the science of survival, maybe not to the degree of turning water into wine and doing the fish and five loaves thingy, but converting life’s lemons into  a cool lemonade drink is child’s play, and when there is no money for sugar, you learn to just appreciate the effervescence of it all.

  • Amazon Prime members can watch “A Key of Brown” – One of Vaughn Christion’s full-length features – for free  By Clicking This Link
  • To learn more about this filmmaker, once referred to as the most prolific filmmaker in New Jersey, I urge you to read the full expose’ on his works (Up to 2013), written by Whitney Strub – a Rutgers Professor who blogs.  
  • Whitney Stub’s blog on Vaughn Christion’s most recent full-length action film “The Yaku and the Undefeated”.

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