Your new movie Mt.
Washington - in a few words, what is it about?
A woman is pressured to leave her bedroom and join her friends at a
party that's happening right outside her door. The up-hill battle is that
her ex is also going to be there.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Mt.
Washington, and was any of this based on personal experience?
really personal. I mean the film is based on those moments where you think
an ex is going to be somewhere, and the whole time before you get there,
you are worrying and scared and thinking back to everything, and making
yourself mad and emotional. It's something we all have gone through. I
have. I think it's funny though what the usual result of that is. If you
watch the film to its end you will see how that kind of fear and thinking
usually ends. So why do we do it to ourselves? I think it's hilarious. So
everyone relates to it cause we all have done it.
Washington picks up a theme rather common in your films, that of
the spurned lover finding it difficult to cope - any explanation
why this comes up quite this regularly?
I get asked this a
lot lol. When you look at different directors they always have their own
reoccurring themes in their films cause that's what they're interested in.
Some people like making comedies like that movie Superbad (which I
like); some people like making gangster films. Others like Tyler Perry
always make films about women coping with divorces or that kind of thing.
It's something I really enjoy talking about. I write a lot of stories that
aren't about breakups, that are inspired by shows like The Twilight Zone
that I just haven't filmed yet, and I WILL film those, believe me! But
this is what I mostly enjoy making films about. I can't really explain why
I like doing it. I think I'd have to look really deep down inside myself,
or think back to my childhood, or take a personality test or something.
I'm ISFP. Are they romantics? Maybe that explains it, I don't know lol.
Another main reason is cause since my films are inspired by music, I
listen to a lot of love songs like this song by Local Natives for
instance. The story came on a whim in my mind. It wasn't based on a true
story or pre-meditated. It just naturally came to my mind based on the
feel of the song and the lyrics. It just happened.
You have to talk
about the central song in your movie by the Local Natives for a
bit, and what was there first, the song or your film (or your script that
Yeah the film is inspired by a song by the Local
Natives of the same name. The film exists only cause of that song. It was
literally created for that song. I got the idea on a whim after listening
to that song. I love it so much. It's unbelievably beautiful and yes, I do
relate to it a lot. So I said, you know what? I'm making a film to this
song. Something amazing happened. I wrote an email basically pouring my
heart out to their publicist lmao. I linked our film Mt.
asked her to watch it and see how perfect the song is for the film. She
forwarded my email and film to the band's manager and he emailed me
directly and told me "I don't know much about films, but I've seen a
lot to see that you have a lot of talent." He said he'd forward my
film to the band directly. Days later I got an email from the lead singer
Taylor Rice and he said he really liked the film and was happy to let me
use their song. We have been emailing. I was so happy and it was so
amazing. Taylor is sooo cool and down to earth. I really am grateful for
the band and the manager for letting me use the song. So I wanna say thank
you to them. Mt.
Washington would not be what it is without "Mt.
What can you tell us about your overall directorial
approach to your story at hand?
I think besides the amazing
actors Sharley Paul and Shane Alexander, the key to the film was the
storyboard. Every shot was well-thought out and none were unnecessary to
the story. I really think I have grown as a director, when I look back to A Sister's Bond and
Problem with Bill Winer, and even Monae's
Room, and then I compare our shots and story flow to Mt.
Washington, I see
a huge difference and huge improvement. I loved the room we used for the
film. That apartment was awesome. I loved "The End" plastered
all over her room. Lmao, talk about melodramatic. I loved that the room
was green, which symbolizes anxiety. I wanted a variety of shots, I wanted
it to be as creative and different as possible. I just wanted it to really
flow with the music. I had the music in mind, I knew exactly which shots
should go on particular parts of the song. And I wanted the story to be as
emotional as the song, and as dynamic. The song starts slow ... so the film
starts slow, with Sharley leaning up and her thinking of the gentle times
... and during the second verse you can hear in the instruments that
the song becomes anxious. You can hear it in the guy's voice. He's getting
restless the more he thinks and dwells on the subject ... so Sharley's
getting anxious as well, her hand shaking while applying the lipstick, and
thinking about when the relationship started getting tense ... then we hear
the bridge and it sounds dynamic so I sped the film up, and then we hear
the climax of the song when he repeats "I don't need to see you right
now" (my favorite part of the song), and I loved adding the shot of
her standing there staring at the door, all dressed and ready to face her
fear. UGH SO AWESOME. This was the most creatively fulfilling film for me
Do talk about your cast
for a bit, and why exactly these people?
Sharley Paul stars
in it and this is actually her first time acting in a film! Which shocks
me cause she did amazing. Absolutely amazing. I loved her look first of
all. She is a beautiful powerful black woman and I love representing that
in my films. She looked like a black queen on the screen. Second, she was
a mutual friend of a friend and we really clicked. We share the same goals
and values and that is really important to me, working with people I get
along with well who understand me, who I have things in common with, so we
became friends. There needs to be a mutual respect, mutual understanding
and chemistry when working with a person. This is just me personally ... I
will definitely work with her again. Her performance was realistic,
natural and emotional ... it came off so real. She did terrific. She brought
in the "Jon" in the film, played by Shane Alexander. They are
friends in real life, and you can see this cause they have natural
chemistry on screen together, so it worked out great.
Your film only
features very limited locations - so what kind of a challenge was it to
keep things interesting, and where was it filmed in the first place?
of my films have limited locations (2 at the most), and it works out good.
I've never had a problem keeping things interesting in my films (not
counting the first 2 lol). The reason is because I don't write for
location, I write for the music, and already have an idea of the shots and
story before I even start thinking about location. I prefer lesser
locations anyway cause it makes things simpler. But yeah things are
already interesting before I even get to the part of location. I make the
location work for the story. And storyboards are key to keeping things
interesting. You can always tell if a film or music video is storyboarded
well or not. If you do that the shots will never be boring or repetitive
or unnecessary. They will always be interesting and mean something to the
story. Monae's Room,
Sometime Around January and Mt.
Washington were all
storyboarded. Last Words was not, and it was kind of difficult for me to
keep things interesting with limited footage & no storyboard. I can't
function without a drawing of what's going on in my mind. If I had
storyboarded Last Words
I would've been better off. Mt.
Washington is the
best film I have done so far, as far as story, editing, directing and
storyboarding goes. I also want to point out the story itself is really
good, so it was easy keeping things interesting. People seem to think a
film doesn't have a story to it if it is not like other films (dialog
etc). Just cause a film has a different narrative, no dialog and is led by
music doesn't mean there's no story to the film. When I write, story comes
first before absolutely anything. Story is the most important thing for me
when it comes to film. I can be doubtful of myself as an artist sometimes
like all artists, but one thing I know I'm very good at, is creating a
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was the best shoot I've ever been a part of. I booked an airbnb for my cast
and crew so we could shoot the film and stay there if we finished late. We
started shooting at Roger Williams park first around noon, then we moved
to Providence and checked into the apartment and filmed there until 1am.
It went really smooth, was so creatively fulfilling, and everyone worked
great together. Chris Boylston was director of photography on it, and it
ended up looking great. We had really interesting conversations with the
cast on set. This cast was the most enlightened cast I've ever worked
with. After we finished shooting we stayed up until 3am or 4am just
talking about life, business, money and different things. I really
appreciate Chris, Eileen, Sharley and Shane for staying up that late with
me and not going to sleep on me. They stayed up during the entire shoot
and kept committed to it. They didn't complain. They worked hard. This is
what gets you more work in the future. Really grateful to have worked with
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie yet?
just released it on my Vimeo so it's real early but I did post my teaser
and some people had commented that it was "amazing" and said it
made them really want to see the whole film. I was really happy to hear
that cause it is so hard to make a GOOD trailer. A few people have watched
the whole film and they complimented the actors' performances, the
direction and editing (flow and double exposure), and how perfectly the
music fit the story. The variety of shots, and double ending was also
noted. I think people really like it. I'd say that's pretty good!
future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The question about why
I make films about coping with breakups came at a funny time cause I
actually wanna make another Monae's Room again.
Washington is about a person who's just going through normal coping. She's normal.
Monae was not normal. She was obsessive, possessive and mentally
unhealthy. And even then I was holding back. I enjoy that stuff much more.
I wanna do that again, but make it more ... adult? More real. I'm gonna do
that next. That's the film called His Interlude.
At first I was just making shorts cause I genuinely enjoy it but I want to
go outside my comfort zone. I want change and growth and meaning. I want
to grow and push myself. I want to reach my potential. And if you feel
there's a ceiling and that you can't grow anymore, or aren't being
challenged enough, it's time for change. We have to believe in our talents
enough to go outside our comfort zone and do something bigger, and really
see how talented we are. So even though I'm still making shorts, like Mt.
Washington & His Interlude and the next ones after that, they will all
be a part of something bigger. I won't share too many details yet but yes,
I do plan on making new projects.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
And check out my new website
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
again for the interview!
for the interview!