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BLACK BUSINESS FEATURE: DOMINGA MARTIN - HOUSE OF MING

Dominga Martin is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker originally from Boston, MA. Her company House of Ming Productions is a boutique motion picture company based in Brooklyn, launched in 2001. They specialize in all aspects of production: Narrative Film, Documentary, Music Videos and Commercials.

Soul Society 101: What made you start House of Ming?

Dominga: I am an Artist and a Director, and my passion is filmmaking. It was a natural process for me to establish my own production company, and have the creative freedom to control what I love doing. I am inspired by diverse beauty and edgy-ness, and have a love for fashion and originality. This is what House of Ming represents to me.

“Ming” is also my nickname, however, my inspiration for fashion inspired the company name i.e., House of Chanel, House of Dior, House of Versace…Everyone who loves fashion knows that if you want quality, you go to the Houses, and so what I see for House of Ming is a film company that produces quality work, and originality that makes a statement, like one of your favorite fashion ads, that are sexy, edgy, provocative and speak to you without saying a word.

Soul Society 101: What is the unique niche for House of Ming?

Dominga: I believe the unique niche is that House of Ming can position itself in the marketplace today. Being inspired by fashion houses, owned and operated by a woman who is a writer, director who appreciates originality, innovation and multi-cultural beauty. My focus is to direct and produce quality independent projects with global appeal. Right now we are in development of my first feature film “My First Loves” and my docu-series “Diary of a REEL Girl”, however, I direct music videos, documentary and commercials as well.

Soul Society 101: Tell us more about the latest Italy series. How did you get started?

Dominga: “Diary of a REEL Girl: Volume 1 (When in Rome)” is the first part of my behind the scenes journey as a filmmaker. I decided to launch a docu-series because I always get questions from aspiring filmmakers regarding my process. I thought a docu-series which takes viewers behind the scenes was the best way to educate as well as inspire those who want to pursue a career in film. It happens to start in Italy because I was selected to join 100 filmmakers from all over the world and make movies over the summer, for an international film festival called CinemadaMare (Festival on the Sea).

We traveled through 10 Italian regions and made movies each week. I thought it was a great moment in time to film a black girl from Boston heading to Italy by way of Brooklyn [and] that seeing me on set in one of the most beautiful countries in the world would be dreamy. We don’t get to see ourselves in the backdrops of other countries, diving into a new culture or language often, especially living our dreams and doing what we love. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to launch the series because my movies have a global perspective.

Diary of a REEL Girl: Volume 2 will go behind the scenes of my first feature film “My First Loves” It’s an on-going series that follows me through each production I create.

Soul Society 101: How was your experience in Italy?

Dominga: My experience in Italy was unlike anything I ever dreamed. I was welcomed with open arms and taken care of in each region I visited. The ancient cities, museums and ruins touched every part of my senses. As an artist is was really inspiring. The music, language, people and places gave me a feeling of belonging. I never felt out-of-place.

There were always locals who wanted to buy me food or caffe lol I felt like a Princess! My favorite cities are of course Rome and Venice, however I got to visit quaint regions off the beaten path like Guardia Perticara which is a region south of Italy with a population of approx 500 people. The village is paved with red cobblestones and only has 1 caffe, one restaurant, one post office…we had to drive to another village just for an ATM! But I loved it because there were 3 “mothers” of the village who cooked authentic Italian meals for us every day, for 2 weeks…it was out of this world!

Maratea was also a favorite region of mine which is right off the Mediterranean Sea. Another small village where the fashion and boutiques were so dope.

It’s really unfair for me to choose the best place to eat because all of Italy’s food is “heaven in your mouth” It’s the only way I can describe it. Everything I tried was just the most delicious I ever tasted. However, I had to get used to eating a whole pie (pizza) because there aren’t any slices there (except Venice), but any other region you eat the whole pie and it’s an insult if you don’t clean your plate!

The most scenic is Venice, hands down! I had a private VIP tour of the Basilica at night and also visited Doge’s Palace. There’s so many monuments and history in Venice. Both Venice and Rome are deep rooted in spirituality and Biblical history. You an feel it in the air.

Soul Society 101: How has this experience shaped your travel life?

Dominga: This experience has inspired me to travel abroad and live in other countries a few months out of the year. I loved the cultural plunge experience and so inspired to learn about other cultures, foods and traditions. I just want to see the whole world now, but not just on vacation, to really dive in and be part of the daily life, and learn other languages.

Soul Society 101: What's up next for House of Ming?

Dominga: Next up is my first feature film “My First Loves” a romantic comedy. I also have a commercial which I just wrapped on Black Beauty for TV One, Walmart and The NAACP Image Awards. It is running this month, nationally. I am really excited about this project because my vision was approved to include the black “Barbie” Adele Makeda of Integrity Toys in the shoot, in addition to these beautiful images of curvy sisters sketched by an artist in France who goes by the name “Niki’s Groove”.

I think this project will inspire lots of young girls to really embrace their natural beauty. The commercial stars Toccara Jones of America’s Next Top Model.

Soul Society 101: Outside of Italy, are there any other travel experiences that have been life changing to you?

Dominga: When I was younger I had the opportunity to dance background for Bobby Brown’s youngest sister who was a rapper. We traveled the United States on the New Edition “Home Again” tour. That was a defining moment for me for a lot of reasons, one: it was a dream come true because I grew up in the same neighborhood as New Edition and they were the first people to show me that dreams can come true. So I came full circle during that time of my life and achieved a long awaited goal and dream. It was also a defining moment because I wrote my first screenplay while I was on the road and I realized when the tour was over that I would pursue filmmaking as my career. That I would be a writer and director and [that] that would be my life.

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