American actor and filmmaker Franklin Livingston is one of a new breed of storytellers, a true pioneer of the 21st century. He is an artist who believes in the value of humankind and attempts to illustrate its weaknesses and strengths through the power of his work.
When Franklin came to the United States from his native Pakistan, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen, he was immediately struck by the broad mix of cultures, races, religious and political beliefs, and the conflicts between modern ideals and biases. He saw the broad differences between the haves and the have-nots and the racial hatred and bigotry. Indeed, if you asked Franklin, himself a man of “color,” if he had ever been a victim of injustice, he would say “yes.”
Despite his experiences and observations, Franklin believes in the truth of the American constitution that “All men are created equal.” He knows however that sometimes that’s not how things work, and this gave birth to Franklin’s true purpose in life: he would become an unconventional actor, taking on the roles of marginalized Americans in narrative films. The characters Franklin portrays often break the tradition of showcasing certain races and ethnicities as leads in Hollywood movies and TV shows.
Comedy plays a large role in Franklin’s approach to these issues. After all, what better way to make your audience more comfortable with the truth than to make them laugh at the circumstances. Sometimes it’s an in-your-face, uproarious moment, and other times it takes a second or two for the hilarity of what’s just happened to sink in. But regardless of how his work hits you, there are serious issues hidden behind the words.
A remarkable aspect of Franklin’s work is that every project has been financed out of his own pocket and entirely produced by himself. He is famous for wearing many hats during filming of his projects and in some ways, he has been compared to Charlie Chaplin and Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean). Franklin has completed several award-winning short films, soon-to-be-released feature-length films, and is currently filming episodes of the web-series ROOMATES(TM).
Franklin believes in empowering members of his teams, enabling and encouraging them to be creative. This helps them grow and brings out the best of their artistic endeavors for the projects they work on with Franklin. He hires the writers, the actors, the directors and usually works with only one professional camera and sound person, consistently producing material that rivals some of the best multi-million dollar projects. Over the past several years Franklin has given jobs to hundreds of artists in the New York Tri-State area.
Franklin is a true auteur. He’s still in the early stages of his career, yet his work clearly defines where he’s headed. His works make us laugh and cry, make us sick with anger, and make us hopeful for change. His ideals are pure and his work, whether funny or serious, addresses the betterment of humankind.