Growing up in New Orleans, Megan “Megz” Trufant-Tillman watched musicians march in Mardi Gras parades — then went home and pretended to be a drummer. That memory infuses her lyrical short film “Little Trumpet,” in which music is a soundtrack for both hope and loss. The film was a highlight of New Filmmakers Los Angeles recent In Focus: Black Cinema festival.
The film is about a 9-year-old loner who wants his brother to teach him how to play the trumpet. But in the 7th Ward of New Orleans — where the filmmaker grew up — that’s not so simple.
“My inspiration just came from pretty much my opening — seeing a little Black boy playing an invisible trumpet. When I first started writing the script, it sort of flowed out. It was very therapeutic,” says Tillman-Trufant in an interview with NFMLA’s Carolyn McDonald.
“Looking back on it maybe a couple of years later… I realized it was my own story and the story of a lot of people I grew up with,” the filmmaker says. She calls “Little Trumpet” both “my letter to home and my homecoming.”
Watch the NFMLA interview with Megan Trufant-Tillman, writer and director of “Little Trumpet”:
‘Little Trumpet’ Director Megan “Megz” Trufant-Tillman Is Surrounded by Music
Tillman-Trufant’s father is a musician, and she became a musician herself as one half of the jazz/neo-soul/hip hop outfit Magna Carda. Like many in New Orleans, she says music is a constant in her life.
“I associate it with our good memories our bad memories. it always sets the tone for how I’m feeling,” she says. “It’s a true reflection of our spirit — whether we’re celebrating, whether we’re mourning.”
Trufant-Tillman is a multi-hyphenate creative who also works under the moniker Solthought and whose works include the episodic pilot script All Fronts, a runner-up in the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival Screenplay Competition, as well as “Little Trumpet,” her directorial debut.
She is also the founder and editor of WATER, a Black literary and arts magazine. Her creative work centers Black life and culture as well as the Black South. You can follow her on Twitter @gimmiekissmegz and @liltrumpetfilm and on Instagram at @kisstheteam and @littletrumpetfilm.
“Little Trumpet” was among those celebrated in February at NFMLA’s annual InFocus: Black Cinema program, spotlighting Black stories and emerging Black talent in front of and behind the camera across two shorts programs and a spectrum of genres, along with the feature documentary “On The Line: The Richard Williams Story” directed by Stuart McClave.
The day began with InFocus: Black Cinema Shorts I, a program that weaved together nuanced stories of friendship, place, perspective taking, family, loss, and joy. It continued with On The Line and concluded with InFocus: Black Cinema Shorts II, an exploration of connection, community, identity, mental health, climate activism, and motherhood through a range of genres, including movement, comedy, coming of age, sci-fi, experimental, and drama.
NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.
Main image: A still from “Little Trumpet” by Megan “Megz” Trufant-Tillman.