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Entrepreneurs

CEA Film Winner: Behind The Lens With Honey Head

By Beth A. Klahre, posted May 6, 2022
FILM | HONEY HEAD FILMS Kristi Ray & Erika Arlee, Co-Founders | Year Founded: 2016 | Employees: 5 (Photo by Terah Hoobler)
Kristi Ray and Erika Arlee, co-founders of Honey Head Films, an award-winning boutique film production company in Wilmington, started their company as an underground movement.
 
Having successful film careers in front of the camera, Ray and Arlee were exhausted with the same one-dimensional characters and types of roles being offered to them as young women. Equally frustrating was the obvious gender gap within the industry for female producers, directors, writers and cinematographers.
 
Now Ray and Arlee are on task to level the playing field for underrepresented stories and marginalized filmmakers.
 
Six years ago, Ray and Arlee went behind the lens to make an impact. They have since produced 13 narrative shorts, five documentary films and 16 music videos and worked on projects for over 100 business clients, artists and organizations.
 
“Honey Head was born on sheer creative energy, and we’ve grown from a few women on a mission to operationalizing our company to service a broad range of clients in the Southeast region and beyond,” said Ray, who serves as Honey Head’s creative producer. “We’ve been able to target specific market gaps in film and media production, and along the way, we’ve mastered the art of shortform filmmaking.”
 
Honey Head is scaling to shoot its first feature film, written and directed by Arlee – Honey Head’s media director – and starring award-winning actress Ray, in what Arlee calls “a full-circle moment.”
 
“We’re very proud to announce a 70% female crew with women hired in every department and holding key roles of writer, director, producers and executive financiers. This is rare and something to celebrate,” said Ray, who serves as a producer for the feature, A Song for Imogene.
 
The film will be shot soon over 21 days in Wilmington and areas of Bladen and Robeson counties to premiere and be sold at a top-tier North American film festival next summer.
 
The team is already planning even further ahead.
 
“As we scale our company to accommodate feature-length productions, we’re thinking about expansion into an indie grassroots film studio,” Ray said. “We built a small-footprint filmmaking solution that brings our product to market at a cost-efficient rate. And now this established production blueprint will be applied on a greater scale for narrative and documentary feature films under the parent company of Honey Head.”
 
Ray acknowledged the capability of Wilmington’s bustling film infrastructure to support larger studio productions.
 
“My biggest dream is to produce fully-financed original narrative feature films that I write and direct, which Kristi can star in and that we can produce with the film crews and creatives who have championed our brand since day one,” Arlee added.
 
Ray said they also want to invest in others’ work.
 
“We dream of having a foundation under the Honey Head brand where we can finance the work of emerging and marginalized filmmakers,” she said, “using the mission of Honey Head as a launchpad for the creative careers of others.”

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