This young black director leapt straight out of film school into feature film making at age 19 with the powerful drama, "Straight Out of Brooklyn" (1991). Financed initially by $12,000 in cash advances from his own, his sister's and mother's credit cards, and then bit by bit with fund-raising screenings (which netted $77,000), the film, concerning a black family torn apart by alcohol, anger and despair, was inspired by Rich's painful youth spent in Brooklyn's Red Hook housing project. To make "Straight Out of Brooklyn", Rich formed a production company, Black N' Progress, and hired non-professional actors and crew members who responded to his trade ads. Post-production money came from the PBS subsidiary American Playhouse Theatrical Films. Rich then was signed by the William Morris Agency on the strength of the film's screening at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival where it won a special jury prize.