Dekoven Riggins and Marcus Brown
Filmmakers, film teachers
Dekoven Riggins and Marcus Brown are working to restore one of the landmarks of film in Oklahoma: the Jewel Theater. The theater was one of three Black-owned theaters in Oklahoma City, originally opened in the late 1920s and was a staple of the bustling Black-owned business community along Fourth and Second streets.
“We are a part of an effort to get it back working again for the community,” Riggins said.
Part of that work is creating a documentary about the history of the theater, a project the two worked with Matt Payne and Prairie Surf Media to produce.
“The goal is to raise awareness and show the community the history that was the east side and is and will continue to be,” Brown said.
The two also have their own production company, Notis Studios. They’ve produced a narrative film, Black Wall Street Burning, multiple shorts films and are currently constructing their own soundstage this year.
“We felt we heard from the Lord to start this company,” Riggins said. “So we did. One of the first projects Black Wall Street Burning. We wanted to tell Black history in Oklahoma. We want to continue to educate the future and create a hub for education.”
Hub for education? Check. Riggins and Brown also teach Film 101 at Douglass High School. The program is a part of the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma and has plans to expand to many more high schools. Currently, the program has classes at Douglas, Northwest Classen and Capitol Hill high schools.
“We teach them about what it is to produce film, from development to the release,” Brown said. “We want to build up the next generation of filmmakers and production crew. It’s that spark that gets the light into kids for filmmaking.”
For these filmmakers, developing the workforce through education is equally as important as making sure Oklahoma creatives have a space to highlight Oklahoma, which is the goal of their studio.
“Our workforce needs to grow exponentially, and we want to do our part to make it grow,” Brown said.