Spike Lee

An Important Reminder

I've had a long, but incredible week. That doesn't happen very much. Long weeks have become the norm, but to have such an affirming, inspiring, exciting and eye opening one certainly is not. There were a lot of events and media coverage of Spike's new film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. For those that don't know, I served as the editor on it. I was fortunate to be a part of some of this week's events and it has been humbling. I have been able to meet and reconnect with some wonderful, talented people while also forging some new relationships. I've also had the opportunity to share all of our hard work with the world, which is amazing. This week was also special because I witnessed my close friend Asaf Ganot's New York Fashion Week show for his fall/winter collection. Asaf asked me to shoot some backstage footage of the event. The creative energy and intensity was inspiring. It was educational. It set a standard. I've seen Asaf grow from a college student athlete to a professional basketball player to an innovative force in the fashion industry.

These moments are a great reminder of something that gets lost in the shuffle. The accomplishments and adulation are tremendous. It is why people pursue their passions, but the bigger thing may be the journey. I've reflected quite a lot this week and marveled at how the process has produced so many great things on so many levels. It makes us better people. It makes us better artists. It fosters larger communities comprised of people of all backgrounds and personal stories. The journey is the big payoff and I'm appreciative that this week reminded me of that.

Is It Good? Yes. Is It Great? ...

I hope this post finds you all well. With the great fortune that I've had professionally over the last year; I wanted to share some of the things I have learned because I believe it can make all of us better filmmakers, artists and people. As some of you may know, my career has taken a major turn over the last year. Since last October, I have served as one of Spike Lee's editors on numerous projects including "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," "Katt Williams: Priceless" and most recently "What Is The Triangle? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint." What I thought would be awesome to discuss is the ways in which you can take something that is good and turn it into something better, even great. I'm not offering a guarantee of course, but I am dropping a challenge. Will you do the things necessary to squeeze everything out of your project and yourself? This challenge isn't just for you, but myself as well. Lord knows, I need to get better with every project. Let's see where we end up. I used to believe that being great was achievable strictly on talent. You are either born with the ability to be great or you're not. I've realized in the past year that this is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. The first lesson learned is the sheer amount of labor and commitment it takes to maximize whatever it is you're working on. You can never be satisfied in the development process. You have to be meticulous and honest. Honest in the sense that if something isn't working you can't be married to it. You have to be willing to find a better solution and grind away until you find one.

One example is when I cut "Katt Williams: Priceless." Spike shot with eight cameras so the options were plenty. Being a young editor, working on my first project with so many cameras and working on a comedy special my natural tendency was to think on a macro level. What camera angle is the best for this part of the show and how long do I stay on it to help set up and deliver a joke? That makes sense right? Well, I quickly learned screening with Spike that you had to think on a Macro AND Micro level. What is going on in the corners of the frame, what is going on with the camera movement, how many times have we seen this angle in this amount of time. All of these factors mattered when making a decision on what we were going to see on the screen. It took a couple weeks repeatedly looking at the SMALL things before we arrived at a point where we exhausted all of the available footage. Looking back on it, I did a pretty good job at the beginning, but that meticulous attention to detail is what made it way better.

We all need to ask ourselves, have I done enough to make this as strong as this can be. Have I committed to it enough? Have I given myself enough TIME to see it all the way through? These are critical things we have to ask ourselves while we're thinking about visual strategies, budgets, marketing, fame and fortune. Have you thought about them enough?

Let me know what you think in the comments. I would love to hear from you all.


Da Sweet Blood of Randy

"What we can tell you is that it’s an artistic, cinematic experience by a genius movie director and completely open to interpretation. Suffice to say in this film, which is beautifully shot by Dan Patterson, meticulously edited by Randy Wilkins and wonderfully scored, its “less sacrilegious to drink blood, than to spill it...." - Black Enterprise, June 2014


What a journey the last ten months have been for me. Last August, I was an assistant editor working feverishly on Spike Lee's Mike Tyson Undisputed Truth while working equally as hard on a Seed and Spark crowdfunding campaign to raise money for our web series Docket 32357. Fast forward to today and I am the editor on Spike's new film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, while our web series has premiered online (see it here) receiving wonderful feedback from the public. I feel like I've matured by ten years in ten months. I can't really describe what I'm feeling at the moment because I am still in the middle of a whirlwind. I never thought my name would be mentioned in a film review by Black Enterprise for editing a legend's film. I quote honestly never thought I would create web based material allowing folks to binge watch a story that I love so much. It just goes to show how far persistence, hard work and commitment can get you. I hope the trend continues upward. I want to increase my impact and I want to inspire. I want to be a standard for artists and the general public. I feel really good about things right now and I feel even better that I'm surrounded by wonderfully talented people who push me every day. I hope you all get a chance to check out Da Sweet Blood of Jesus  when it hits theaters and check out the Docket 32357 Web Series now!

God was Willing and Da Creek Didn't Rise

For those of you that don't know I was recently an assistant editor on Spike Lee's latest film, "If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise" that aired on HBO last week. Its amazing the gamut of emotions you go through when you're in post for a film. The initial reaction is excitement. Excitement that you have a job. Excitement that you're about to embark on communicating an important story to the world. Excitement that you are going to grow as a filmmaker and hopefully as a person. The trepidation is going through the process of that growth. When I worked on "When the Levees Broke" I was completely overwhelmed. I had just learned the avid editing software maybe six months prior, I had never been an assistant editor before and I was working on Spike's passion project. All of these elements were essentially working against me at the beginning. I had to learn on the job and I had to perform. I was green behind the ears and had to grow up quickly. It was a grueling learning process as a FILMMAKER that I underwent, but I made out well in the end.

For If God is Willing, the growth was more of a PERSONAL nature than an artistic one. In the time between the two films I camera operated on two features, I was an assistant editor on a few more projects and more importantly, for me, I was enjoying the success of my own work with Osvaldo's. My improvement as a filmmaker was increasing by leaps and bounds and my confidence joined for the ride. So when IGIW came around I knew that artistically I was up for the challenge. What I didn't expect was the increasing sentiment within myself that I'm ready to put my name out there in the world. It's great to work for one of the greatest to ever do it, but I want to be a part of that conversation. I'm looking forward to building my own community and collaborating to tell stories that impact people and have the streets buzzing. I'm not in this for self-indulgence but to give a voice to all kinds of everyday folk. I was reminded of this while working on IGIW. It was a tough road during the making of this film to reach this understanding, but I'm appreciative of it. I'm ready.

A Film A Day Keeps the .... Away

So I have been told from two different prominent sources that filmmakers are supposed to watch films, like all the time. In order to improve your craft, you have to see the work from others and learn from them. As an up and coming director, I realized that this was a truism that I had to heed. I know this seems rather obvious but putting it into practice can be troublesome at times. I must admit I have not been doing a great job of this lately. A lot of it has to do with the Yankees winning the world series (which will be its own post soon) and actually working on a film. But I realized that I just used those things as an excuse. So I'm taking up what Spike has told me a couple times and that is to watch a film a day. With a little bit more free time coming my way I decided to spend part of it just watching movies. I started my challenge yesterday and I plan on writing about each film that I see here on the blog. Keep in mind that there is no preconceived criteria for what I am going to watch. It can be a blockbuster, a horror film, a short, a documentary, a neo-realist, a revenge flick, whatever. I just have to see one a day. I am not sure if I can keep it up but I am going to do my best to accomplish this. So like I said I started this up yesterday with "By The People." on HBO. If you don't know, this is the President Obama documentary. The one cool thing about this film is that I work with one of the editors, the amazing Geeta Ghandbhir. Actually, I had the pleasure of working with all the editors of By The People, Sam Pollard and Arielle Ansalem, on When The Levees Broke. So this was a nice way to start off the film a day thing. I knew going into the film that it wasn't about Obama per se. The larger focus of the film was on the actual campaign and the people behind it. This piqued my interest because I heard so much about the people who comprised the campaign that it was nice to actually see some faces. Long story short, I was disappointed. The film feels rushed to me. In an attempt to satisfy the timeline of events, I think the film falls short of getting into any depth about major moments that occurred. One topic that I wanted way more coverage of was the Sarah Palin choice. Ever since she was announced as the vice presidential candidate I was severely intrigued by how everyone in the Obama camp felt about it. The film skims over the reaction leaving us with sound bites from the campaign trail and not from inside the walls. Now I understand part of this may have been at the behest of the Obama people, but this is just one example in which we fly by landmark moments in the campaign without really gaining insight that the filmmakers access could have provided the audience. What was nice to see was the intense dedication that the workers and volunteers gave the campaign. It was inspiring to see such young, smart and innovative people not only commit to a historic process, but also be more than capable of accomplishing success. Despite its shortcomings, the opportunity to shed some light on these trailblazers makes the film worth your time to see. I'm sorry for such a quick write up of the film, but I'm pretty sleepy. It's been a long day.

I saw COLLAPSE tonight which has had a big initial impact on me so I will talk about this film in depth tomorrow.

Osvaldo's News

So I have a couple updates for all of you regarding Osvaldo's. The momentum is increasing and the exposure is expanding. So the updated news is:

  • The film is an official selection of the Mid-Atlantic Black Film Festival in Norfolk, Virginia from September 16-19. I don't have word yet on the screening time yet but I will let you all know shortly.
  • The film will be AVAILABLE IN ITS ENTIRETY ON BET.COM STARTING NEXT WEEK. Osvaldo's is one of ten films being featured by the Urbanworld Film Festival on the popular website. So if you aren't able to visit the festivals to see it on the big screen you can see it on your computer from next week on through december. This is a great opportunity for the film and everyone involved and I am humbled that Urbanworld and BET thought enough of it to be showcased in this manner. Its pretty exciting.
  • I'm being featured on Spike Lee's production company's website www.40acres.com in the "featured filmmaker" section. Stop by there and check it out. Its exciting to be a part of it and I would like to thank Spike, Jason, Eden, Earl and everyone else over at 40 for giving me some shine. Sign up as a member so you can get updates on what Spike is doing.
  • Finally, Osvaldo's will be a part of SHORTS PROGRAM 3 AT THE ORLANDO HISPANIC FILM FESTIVAL. For more information on that screening block visit www.ohfilmfestival.com. I will have the links to this festival, the mid-atlantic film festival and 40 acres' website in the links section so it is easier for you guys to check everything out.

Peace out.