When Ed Howard began working on the West Oakland Stories of 40s, 50s and 60s, he wanted to document the lives and culture of the predominantly Black West Oakland neighborhood where he grew up in.
However, due to disputes with fellow producer Leonard Stephens and CEO of OUR TV the footage of the West Oakland Stories film project has yet to be released in its entirety.
Howard recently made complaints to the Alameda District Attorney’s office, the Secretary of State and filed a report with the Oakland Police Department, and the Alameda County Recorder’s Office against Stephens, owner of OUR TV.
The dispute centers on missing funds that were part of the initial fundraiser for the film project as well as Howard’s right to obtain a finished copy of the film.
Howard claims that he found out eventually that Stephens is not legally listed with the Secretary of State as having a legitimate business license or a business license with the County of Alameda and entered into the WOS contract deceptively – which amounts to fraud and a criminal act.
A week after the dispute began, cameraman Andre Alporter and Howard, working at Alporter’s apartment, started editing the West Oakland Stories Film. When the editing was finished Alporter says his computer crashed, and he gave Howard all the footage on an external hard drive.
“After the dispute began, they wouldn’t sit down with each other,” said Alporter. “I took my equipment, left OUR TV’s facility, and called Ed (Howard) to finish the West Oakland Project. As for the video, Howard has the raw footage, and the edited copy of the film.”
Howard says he has never received the film.
Stephens denied Howard’s claims, saying he does not have the footage and has not spoken to him since they ended their contractual agreement in the beginning of April.
“I’m willing to work this out,” said Stephens. “Mr. Howard received free promotion, and interviews from OUR TV. He says the accounting numbers are off, and I’m saying I’m ready to sit down and work with you if that’s the case.”