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What type of movies do you like to make?
The kind of movies that I am personally drawn to are scrappy, gritty and rough around the edges. They are heartfelt odes to a true indie spirit. I try to capture some of that ferocity in my work.
What kind of mood do you intend to set through your work?
I endeavor to make work that is thought-provoking but also, because film is both an art medium and a form of entertainment, exciting and intense.
Tell us something more about your film "The Hood". Maybe the story behind it or a funny part that took place while making the movie.
I’m good friends with the professional actor Juan Reynoso. He played a police officer in "The Hood" and, beyond his acting career, he is also the Head of the Media Production Department at Compton High School. He told me that a lot of his students were interested in performing. So, one day after school I met with him and a group of his students and I asked about their experiences of growing up in Compton - the good, the bad, the ugly. I then went away and wrote the script. Later on, I cast his students De’John and Omar and that’s when "The Hood" was born.
In terms of a funny part - because we had actors playing cops in the film, the City of Compton sent sheriffs to be present while we were filming. One of the uniformed officers was heart-stoppingly gorgeous and the minute he stepped on set, not one of my female cast or crew members were able to concentrate…
Have you been binge watching anything you'd highly recommend?
I loved "Gentefied" and I’ve rewatched "The Get Down" several times.
Are there any new themes you’d like to explore as we are back to normal?
I’m a FilmTwo Fellow, which means that the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is actively supporting me in the making of my second feature. The script for the film explores themes of motherhood, female sexuality and mother-daughter dynamics within a horror context.
Who are your favorite collaborators? Why?
My editor Steven Moyer is a long-time collaborator who has cut three of my short films and my first feature "La Leyenda Negra". What I love most about working with Steven is that he is intelligent, intuitive and meticulous. I greatly value his opinion and appreciate how he always elevates my work as a writer-director.
Another one of my favorite collaborators is the professional photographer and graphic designer, Bruno Massey-Silk, who has a fantastic eye and impeccable taste. He has designed all my film posters to date.
Have you picked up any new hobbies while stuck indoors?
I’ve been watching a lot of ‘70s classic horror to prepare for the writing of my next script - "Rosemary’s Baby", "Carrie", "The Exorcist", "The Wicker Man" and "Don’t Look Now". I can’t say I was much of a horror fan before, but it’s starting to grow on me! Do you foresee any long-term change to our routines once this global pandemic is over or under control?
Recently, I met with the Vice President of Features at a Hollywood production company who told me that, nearly all movie theaters are closed across North America and that box-office data isn’t being reported. "Trolls World Tour", for example, will pilot a new form of wide online release. If it’s financially successful, other studios could follow their lead.
Even when this global pandemic is over or under control, movie-goers might be too afraid to go back to cinemas when they reopen. This could make the traditional model of theatrical distribution irrelevant.
What's in your music list today?
Doja Cat and Binki. For those who are unfamiliar with the genius of either artist but have time to listen to just one track - "Rules" by Doja Cat and "Heybb!" by Binki.
What books have you enjoyed these days?
I’ve been researching for my script and enjoying "The Charge of the Goddess - The Poetry of Doreen Valiente". She is known as the Mother of Modern Witchcraft and is an acclaimed author of books about folklore and Paganism. Her verses are sensuous and mystical but also delightfully suggestive - see "The Ballad of Sir Roughchops".
What made you smile or laugh today?
A user review on IMDB commenting on a recently-released ‘80s throwback film: “After this movie… the whole ‘80s nostalgia craze seems to have run its course. Most of the fond remembrances of mid-80s suburbia seem to be coming from people who were born in 1995, and who are under the impression that John Hughes and Steven Spielberg were capturing the period with documentary realism.”
#HowWeCope We'd really appreciate your take on this new campaign born out of necessity as we deal with quarantines, curfew, and social distancing.
How do we cope? Dance like nobody’s watching because nobody is.
#WhatMatters - A line or two about what matters most in these times of uncertainty due to COVID19.
I think that when you’re younger you think everything lasts forever - high school, college, relationships, etc. And as you age, you gain perspective and you realize that nothing does and that even extends to ourselves. You realize that what really matters is 'the here and now' because that is the only thing that is real. I think that this mindset makes the bad times more bearable and it makes you truly appreciate the good times.
If you’re lucky in this life then the things that do last ‘forever’ are your family and your friendships. So checking in regularly with your loved ones definitely matters.
#BeatTheBlues - How do you keep mentally fit dealing with high stress, anxiety, pressure?
I keep busy. I think people often feel anxious about the things they can’t control without realizing that the only thing they can control is their anxiety.