What film do you think everyone should watch?
In The Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai, Eat Drink Man Woman by Ang Lee, and Malcolm X by Spike Lee. I just re-watched X and it still holds up with the passage of time. It’s masterful. He almost couldn’t finish it because it was considered a controversial subject at the time and he lost part of the budget. I was floored as a high school student watching it in theaters the week it opened.
What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
My favorite thing about living in the DMV vs a place like NYC or L.A. (I’ve lived in both places), is the fact that DC only cares about politics. So much of the business of D.C. Maryland and Northern Virginia centers around the business of politics. Making films here is easier because as long as you stay away from the Monuments and Federal land, nobody really cares about what you are doing. You aren’t bothering the ordinary citizen by filming in the city. That’s such a huge contrast to shooting in NYC or LA. As a filmmaker here, I can relax, and be invisible. Unlike a place like L.A. where you may have to be cautious about what restaurant you have lunch at and with whom. NYC is amazing, but it requires too much energy to survive. Here I can shoot a movie, and go for a bike ride after I wrap, or have my friends over for a cookout.
Who inspires you?
Lately, in general, I’ve been inspired by the life and works of three people, all writers. Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley and Maya Angelou. Sometimes on set, if I feel like I’m about to act up, I think “imagine Dr. Maya Angelou is on set, would she approve of your attitude or tone right now?” It’s like What Would Maya Do, kinda thing. When I read Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, she just opened up a world for me. My favorite novel of hers is a small book she wrote called A Gift. I’ve read everything Walter Mosley has written. He writes the unique and captivating characters. I would love my work to inspire someone the way these three writers have blown me away.
What story do you wish someone would tell?
In terms of novels, Walter Mosley wrote a novel called 47 I would love to adapt to an animated film. If someone did that, I wouldn’t be mad at them.
What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
I love Red Rocks on H Street NE. Great food, great bar. When their rooftop opens back up, (it caught fire) it’s an amazing place to gather with friends.