George W. Tillman Jr. Film Director
Due to his God-given talent, Tillman attended Fisk University on a dual scholarship of Football and Track. His major was Healthcare Administration and Planning. In 1975, Tillman would go on to help his team win the SIAC Football conference catching the winning pass. It was in the same year George and his classmates looked at the movie “Watts Stax” again but this time it, inspired his passion of writing to surface.
In 1984, Tillman finished his under graduate studies, but prior to that, Tillman attended Tennessee State University and Lemoyne Owen College where he studied Music under Dr. Mildred Green and Jazz Saxophonist Herman Green.
In 1985, Tillman would meet the songwriter George Henry Jackson whose famous writings (One Bad Apple) sang by the Osmond’s (Down Home Blue’s) by ZZ Hill (Old Time Rock and Roll) by Bob Segar just to name a few. This would spike yet another interest for the art of singing and songwriting for the piano.
In 1987, Tillman was watching an interview on Entertainment Tonight about the life and career path of the Film Director Spike Lee, after seeing and hearing about the acclaimed screen writer this would now sparked the beginning of his film journey.
In 2004 the famed director of the movie “Shaft” Gordon Parks wrote a letter of recommendation for George Tillman to the film industry. So many opportunities have come Tillman’s way in the last decade, his current project, Pride Poise & Dedication “The unsung story of Coach George Glymph expresses another writing style he possess. This documentary is just the beginning of more to come.
ln 1974, George W. Tillman, Jr. attended Fisk University on a Track/Football
Scholarship. Tillman arrived at new Levinston Hall, with only a suitcase, sixteen
dollars, and a harmonica. During his rest moments from football practice and
nightly studies, Tillman would blow his harmonica. His favorite song was
“Gypsy Man”, performed by the group, WAR.
In 1975, Reverend Edwin C. Sanders introduced the film Wattstax to Fisk's student
body. In seeing this movie, Tillman was inspired to write a movie of his own. This
was sparked by the singing appearance of the Bar-Kays in the Wattstax movie; as
they sang “The Son of Shaft”, he set in motion to write the script for a movie he
affectionately named, The Son of Shaft. Reverend Sanders informed the student body of the closing of the legendary recording studio, Stax Records. Consequently, Tillman was deeply moved by the closing of Stax Records.
During that era, African Americans had only three successful million dollar
businesses. They were Motown, Stax Records and Johnson products.
The next film to leave a profound impact on Tillman was, The Godfather, directed
by Francis Ford Coppola. This would mark the beginning of a great story about a
In 1977, shortly after Tillman helped his team to the SIAC Football Conference
Championship, his football career was shorten. Tillman was well on his way to
becoming a professional athlete, however, God had other plans.
In 1985, Tillman's entertainment career began after meeting the great George Henry Jackson, the famous writer of “Down Home Blues”, “Old Time Rock and
Roll”, “One Bad Apple”, just to name a few. lt was through George Jackson, that
Tillman would meet Patty LaBelle, Bobby Womack, Johnnie Taylor, Wilson Pickett,
and Chipp Moman.
In 1987, Tillman saw Director/Writer, Spike Lee on Entertainment Tonight. This
inspired Tillman to write The Son of Shaft. He began the making
of the movie The Son of Shaft. Tillman was faced with opposition for the title use of
Shaft. He later moved on to write the movie, Midnight Train to Georgia.
In 1989, Tillman met Lon Fontain, a great choreographer who assisted him in meeting Gladys Knight. ln 1992,Tillman presented the screenplay Midnight Train to
Georgia, to Gladys Knight while in Memphis performing during the Memphis in
May. Ms. Knight was very impressed with the script.
Tillman's next writing venture was, The Last Buffalo Soldier. After conversing with
his cousin from Port Gibson, Mississippi regarding this venture, Tillman received letters from General Colin Powell, Commander Field Potts of The Last Buffalo Soldier Museum in Kansas City, MO.
impressed by the script of The Last Buffalo Soldier. Mr. Jones encouraged Tillman,
and autographed the script. Tillman prepared himself by visiting several horseback
riding clubs, and educating himself. It was then that he sought to make the pilot for
The Last Buffalo Soldier.
The trend had begun! Tillman then met Francis Ford Coppola, who directed the
movie Rainmaker. Since Rainmaker was filmed in Memphis, it gave Tillman an opportunity to have a small role in the making of the film.
Tillman then went on to have acting roles in other movies such as: The Client, The
Firm, Separated Bv Murder and The People-Vs-Larrv Flynn.
Tillman went on to write the movie, Two Sides of the Street. The background for this film depicts a community where LeMoyne Owen College mirrors LeMoyne Gardens, a housing project. His next venture was Down In Soul City, which he wrote and directed.
Tillman wrote a documentary about HIV/AIDS, entitled My Brother, My Friend which previewed at The National Civil Rights Museum on World AIDS Day 2000. Tillman is a graduate of MeHarry Medical College. He has always wanted to give back to the health field. This documentary will afford him the opportunity to bring about awareness of HIV/AIDS and raise money for this cause.
In the summer of 1997, Tillman performed with members from the group WAR.
In 2000, Tillman performed with the group again, but this time Lee Oscar was with
them. Tillman's dreams were coming true.
Lee Oscar gave him the idea for a short film entitled, The Unknown Film Maker. This was a dream that came true for Tillman. Tillman also met John Singleton at the Universitv of Memphis during Black History Month.
Singleton spoke with Tillman and in that same year Singleton produced and released the movie, The Return of Shaft, which was heartfelt for Tillman. George W. Tillman had a critic to call him expressing his desire to view the movie, Down In Soul City, which he wrote and directed. This movie previewed at the Malco Cinema Studio. A sellout crowd was on hand for its viewing.
Fisk International Film Festival. This gave Tillman the idea of producing, The Filming of a Fiskite.
Messick High School:
1973-runner up state championship 180 yd low hurdles
1973-all-metro high school quarterback
1974- High School All American track and field/ city, regional and state championship 180 yd low hurdles/ Southeast Conference championship track and field 180 yd low hurdles.
1975- SIAC football champions Fisk University
1976- middle Tennessee State Track and Field Championships indoors intermediate hurdle
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