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Filmmaker creates 'Kansas City Dreamin,' documents history of city's musicians

Posted: 6:11 PM, Sep 12, 2023
Updated: 2023-09-12 23:23:13-04

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Megan Abundis

Since Missouri Gov. Mike Parson recently signed the "Show MO Act" into law, the Kansas City Film Office said it's already seeing the impact.

The "Show MO Act" establishes tax credits for film productions beginning this fall.

Experts believe it’ll help attract new production to the state, create jobs and boost the economy.

KSHB 41 News reporter Megan Abundis took this topic 360, covering opportunities, productions, what Hollywood thinks of KCMO and how all Kansas Citians can benefit from the film industry.

Since the big incentive announcement, the KCMO Film Office said it has more than 10 film and television show projects in the pipeline.

In the last four months alone, the office says it's assisted 52 projects.

Now, Abundis is highlighting another voice who’s created a KCMO honor you may know about, but many want to share with the world.

"Kansas City Dreamin" was created by a local filmmaker spotlighting what makes our city so celebrated.

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The new documentary, by filmmaker Diallo Javonne French, marks Kansas City’s African American music culture and its importance to American music — from Jazz, to Hip hop, rock 'n' roll and soul music genres.

“When I tell people I was from Kansas City, they say, 'There’s Black people in KC? Did you grow up on the farm?" French said. "That’s why I did the film; we’re not just cows and barbecue, there’s a lot more to the city and a lot of rich history here.”

The film spotlights area artists such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Bobby Watson, Oleta Adams, Janelle Monae and Tech N9ne — all artists who've had global influence throughout music history.

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“I focused on my experience as a music photographer working at the jazz museum; I’m friends with people like Bobby Watson,” French said. "I went to high school with Tech N9ne; Janelle Monae is from KCK."

He portrays each artist and how they changed the music scene as we knew it, making people stop and listen.

He hopes the new film incentives bring major productions to town and highlight the area's talent crews all ready to go.

“My DP I work with lives in Lawrence; he’s a KU grad and has his own gear and his own rig and he works on movies all over the world," French said. "Same with my editor — he lives in Overland Park, he works out of the house and works on commercials we see all over the world."

French wants to see KCMO on the big screen.

“If a film were to be shot here in KC and on-screen — you see people walking on the plaza, walking down the Berkley River Front Park or Crossroads District — and it has success, people will want to go where that film was shot,” he said. “It will help the economy and put us in a brighter spotlight.”


“This will never be a Chicago, Atlanta or New York, but I think it could be a lot better than what it is now, even though it’s already a great city,” French said.

So take it from him, there’s more to be done.

“You could really do a 12-hour documentary on Kansas City and not cover everything,” he said.

Kansas City Dreamin’ screens this Friday at the Lawrence Art Center. You can see it at 7 p.m.

You can support the documentary's licensing fees by clicking this link.