|Graphic: Business Week|
June 28, 2012
I met the great writer James McBride for breakfast one morning at a coffee shop in New York. We were bemoaning the fact that there’s a low point right now in African-American cinema. We decided to do a movie about a young suburban black kid from Atlanta who’s sent to the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn to spend a summer with a grandfather he’s never met.
With Red Hook Summer, we had 18 days of shooting. A third of my crew were my students at New York University—who got paid. I know actors. One of the things I have in my hip pocket is I can attract grade-A talent. I’m always good at keeping on budget. What’s changed isn’t so much the cost of making a film as marketing it.
If I had thought this all the way through, I would have known that not only was Hollywood not going to finance this film, but it also wasn’t going to distribute this motherf- -ker, either. After it showed at Sundance, I realized it would have to be self-distributed. Going into our screening at Sundance, I knew it wouldn’t be a finished product. We’ve [since] tightened the story. Film is an evolving thing. I’m working with Variance Films; we’re still going to be in all the top markets in August, [but] let’s just say you’re not going to see any commercials on TV during the Olympics.
I don’t think Hollywood understands diversity. The sports world is 50 years ahead. There’s a large audience of people of color who aren’t being thought of. But anytime someone who’s African-American becomes huge, people say they’re not black anymore: “Michael Jackson’s not black, he’s universal. Will Smith, he’s not black.” We’ve been having these debates for years. — As told to Diane Brady
Cool Black's Mad Commentary: What's up with that Business Week (above) graphic tho?
To read all of our posts about Red Hook Summer click the graphic below