Tilane Jones has been described as director and producer Ava Duverney’s “Right-hand woman” but as president of ARRAY, she is taking the vision to the next level. Jones shared her journey to the top and ARRAY’s future projects in a recent episode of the AAFCA Podcast.
Jones and Duverney started their journey together over a decade ago, working as an office assistant at The Duverney Agency. Since then, Jones has been in lockstep with her friend as she continues to be a powerful visionary in Hollywood. Duverney founded ARRAY, an independent film distribution and resource collective dedicated to amplifying the voices of minorities and women voices around the world. Jones, who has been vice president at ARRAY for the past few years, was named president of the entertainment company in 2019. She remembers the day it was announced and admits she was taken a bit off guard with the announcement.
“I was surprised,” Jones says. “I can’t even tell you how I felt on that day. I think just overall my career has just been a surprise to me. Everything that we’ve done, everything that we’ve impacted. But of course, I was ecstatic in a hope, really hopeful that I’d be able to hold that title and work at the level that you need to work at when you are president of multiple companies, not just one.”
Jones has been working as a producer for over a decade, but as president, she not only oversees the company’s many film releases, but also oversees the ARRAY Alliance, the nonprofit dedicated to social impact and education as well as the ARRAY Creative Campus that provides production support for up and coming filmmakers.
Since its creation in 2010, ARRAY has elevated independent film voices distributing over 30 projects including the 2011 Sundance Award Winning “Kinyarwanda,” Duverney’s 2012 film, the award-winning “Middle of Nowhere,” “Vaya,” the 2016 Africa Academy Award winner directed by Akin Omotoso, the Emmy winning documentary “13th” and the revealing documentary “They’ve Gotta have Us” in 2020. According to Jones, projects like these align with ARRAY’s vision to acknowledge and amplify talent.
“I think a lot of what ARRAY does is take artists and filmmakers and elevate them,” Jones says. “Folks that you may not have known of or ever heard of, we try to give them that platform so that they’re able to do their work and continue to do their work, whether it is distributing their films, or on Queen Sugar – making sure that every single episode is directed by a woman, so that they never have the obstacle of being told you can’t direct television because you’ve never directed a TV show, to the programming that we do and just exposing the community and making sure that all of our programming is free to the public.”
As the industry adjusted to new media distribution like streaming and on-demand services, ARRAY was ahead of the curve to distribute their projects. The company inked a direct-to-steaming platform deal with Netflix to distribute several of their independent film offerings. Jones credits ARRAY’s success to the company’s innovative approach to producing and distributing their films.
“I think just out of a need of not having the budgets that a lot of major studios have. We’ve always had to think outside of the box,” she says. “We’ve always had to galvanize things that standard folks in the industry might not lean towards. So social media has always been huge for us – it’s a freeway for us to market and promote these films and these filmmakers.”
“Having a special relationship with our distribution, with Netflix and having the films stream on Netflix. We’re one of the very few distributors that actually have a direct to Netflix deal for these films. Really knowing how important it is to have this work on a platform that allows so many people to see it on an international scale where you can get millions of eyeballs on something that you never would have been able to do as independent distributors.”
Listen to the full interview on the AAFCA Podcast.