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Special Project

Special Project

Bad Things Happen In Philadelphia

Entered in Call to Action, Feature Film, Public Safety, Storytelling


When Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia suddenly became a punching bag tagline for the City of Philadelphia around November 2020, so many of us laughed it off as a joke or turned it into an ironic hashtag, but those of us who commit day in and day out to change the lives of inner-city youth saw things much differently. I wanted to show that our city is resilient. We have incredible organizations doing phenomenal work that just need more support. Mothers in Charge and Shoot Basketballs Not People are prime examples. We wanted to share their stories with the world, change the narrative, and inspire people to get actively involved or support local organizations. 



My project began with a strong Philadelphia-based team who were also my friends and they believed in my vision. However, we didn’t have any money, so on the weekends, we started filming, and everyone donated their time and equipment. After a few days of filming, I felt like we had something special, so I paused filming and crafted a sizzle reel. This captured the attention of NBA legend Allen Iverson and Grammy-winning Mark Mims, both with Philadelphia roots. I remember it so clearly. Mark Mims said to me, “Kyra, I know you don’t know me from a can of paint, but please don’t crowdsource for this film. I will get you the money,” and he did! We finished the film and premiered at the American Black Film Festival and felt optimistic! 

However, the ever-changing entertainment industry threw us a curveball. The Hollywood strikes forced us to rethink distribution. Traditionally, securing an agent is crucial, but the challenging landscape for underrepresented stories made us take a different route. We opted for self-distribution, ultimately landing deals with FOX SOUL and Prime Video, reaching over 1 million viewers.

What sets my project apart? Collaboration and perseverance. My team's belief, the power of the sizzle reel, and the support of industry partners were all crucial. But the most significant challenge – a dynamic industry – became an opportunity. By self-distributing, we bypassed traditional gatekeepers and delivered the story directly to the audience. This approach not only ensured our story was heard but also proved successful, reaching a significant viewership.


Our passion project, which aimed to showcase Philadelphia's resilience, has resonated with over 1 million viewers and was licensed by FOX Soul. Bad Things Happen In Philadelphia premiered at the American Black Film Festival and garnered numerous awards and accolades, including   "Best Local Feature" and "Audience Choice Award" at The Philadelphia Film Festival, "Best Documentary" at the Oscar Micheaux Film Festival, “The Tubman Activism through Art Award”, “Best Documentary” at the Harlem Hip Hop Film Festival and six Telly Awards in the following categories Social Impact, Advocacy & Causes, Social Issues, Social Responsibility, Documentary: Long Form and Gold in the People's Telly category! This recognition speaks volumes about the film's quality and resonance with viewers. 

The featured organizations, Mothers in Charge and Shoot Basketballs Not People, have reported a surge in community support, allowing them to expand their programs and reach more kids in need. Witnessing the positive change in these children's lives is the most rewarding part of our project's success. But what makes it even sweeter? Since the film came out, both non-profits have received many grants and donations for their organizations because of the film, which is what I set out to do from the beginning. Bringing awareness to the smaller non-profits that are boots on the ground every day doing the work in our communities. 


Video for Bad Things Happen In Philadelphia

Entrant Company / Organization Name

K. Knox Productions


Entry Credits