As all of you know, the grand jury's decision on the Michael Brown case was announced a few days ago. It was devastating, but expected. I believe Officer Darren Wilson murdered Michael Brown. I believe Darren Wilson should be behind bars. My beliefs have no bearing on his fate or that of Michael's family. I also believe that I have a responsibility to do something about this injustice. Some have taken to the streets and some have taken to social media. I must take it to film. And I don't mean making a movie about the case (of course that is always an option). This decision is a reminder of what my role is as a filmmaker. My intent is to question, challenge and engage mass audiences. My role as a director is to depict humanity in all of its honesty, complexity, beauty and conflict. And to be clear, I do not just mean for black people. I have had the privilege to share experiences with all types of people both domestically and internationally. I am by no means a cultural expert, but my world view is shaped by relationships with many great people and some not so great people. With that said, I refuse to stereotype and exploit who we are, but I do accept presenting the various facets of who we are. I assume the responsibility of wielding this influence with great care. I want to use my talents in a way that combat damaging depictions of people in mainstream media. I want to explore why people behave the way they do with the hopes of others getting a better understanding of one another. I want the world to be better and my contribution is through this dope medium of film. I hope you all continue to have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. Let's strive to be better.
So for those of you that don't know me that well I have a very broad range of music that I like to listen to. I used to be a big time hip hop head. You would always see me with a big ass pair of headphones attached to my ears, a fitted pulled low, baggy clothes flopping all over the place and a very distinct NEW YORK bop to my walk. I dj'd too and loved the music that basically defined my teenage years. But as we all know hip hop was flushed down the toilet save for a few great artists that have managed to keep it moving as an innovative musical genre. The one personal benefit of hip hop becoming bastardized is the new forms of music I have been following. Whether it be brazilian, world, afro beat, garage, electronic I have truly been inspired by the various voices and interpretations of such fantastic artists. But the two things that I still find myself being drawn back to is good hip hop and jazz. There is one person who has mastered the marriage between the two. His name is Madlib. I know I'm borderline obsessed with dude's work but its well-earned. His catalogue is crazy. For all of 2010, Madlib has put out an album every month. His latest two albums are amazing, but this is a biased comment because they are his two jazz installments. I'm not sure there is a more beautiful thing than a strong jazz record. I rely on jazz heavily in my work as a filmmaker both as a writing inspiration and a reliable tool in the film itself. It captures the primal and complex emotions of man in such a specific and honest way that I can't help but to draw something from it. I was a drummer in a jazz band in high school and never understood how lucky I was to be a miniscule part of such a beautiful thing. Now that I'm a little older, I understand its importance to me as a person and as a filmmaker. In any case here is a snippet of Madlib's Medicine Show #8: Advanced Jazz. Peep the album cover and notice how much visuals influence the music as well. It is such a dope marriage. I hope you enjoy the clip and you can cop the album at www.stonesthrow.com (I'm giving out free plugs that's how much I love it). Have a great day.
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.
So this is my first foray into the blog world. A couple of good friends are blog veterans and it inspired a quiet interest in me for a while now, but I never thought that I would actually capitalize on it. I was listening to an internet radio show that was talking about setting up your own film company and it made me realize that I need to take advantage of the tools that exist around me. I'm an up and coming film director that is very close to finishing my studies at NYU'S Tisch School of the Arts and receiving my MFA in film production. I'm starting to get those "what are you gonna do after you graduate?" questions so I decided to be pro-active about my future. This blog will be a part of that. I plan on posting my previous work as a director and camera operator on here as well as any new work that I may be working on or finishing. I'm pretty opinionated according to my friends so I will definitely be sharing my ideas on a lot of topics, but mainly SPORTS, FILM, MUSIC, BOOKS AND STUPID PEOPLE. I won't go through the whole introductory thing because I figure you will learn about me as I put more posts up. I'm gonna try to be pretty diligent with this so please check in regularly and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer. I'm excited about this and I hope you will be too. Peace