On Defining the Director’s Job
For me it’s different on different movies. I mean, it’s your taste, the vibe you lay down the visual and the working rules, that you lay down for everyone that you’re working with. So I think you set a tone for everything. Even if I’ve written it, once I’m directing it, my job is to make the film work, and I don’t care who wrote it, whether it was me or someone else. I’m more collaborating with the actor than the writer at that point. I’m trying to make it come to life in some way. You’re trying to bring something to life along the way and tell the story you’ve set out to tell, so whatever it takes. And a lot of it’s who you’re collaborating with, what department heads, what creative people you’re working with. I love it, because it hits on everything. As a younger person, I think I wanted to be a writer. That seemed to me my only area I could express myself in. I didn’t know other mediums were even open to me. But once I realized I was a filmmaker and had films in my head, I realized that was so my calling because it answered the need in me to work with others, to collaborate. When I was young, I was kind of left on my own, and just reading. I’m pretty solitary. Film got me actively engaged with others in a collaborative, creative way. That’s what I find probably the most rewarding, the collaboration aspect. It’s perhaps one-sided, because I kind of have veto power and ultimate say, so there’s a certain amount of dictatorial power in the structure, but I think within that structure you can make it work in a lot of different ways.
Darius Clark Monroe’s Acclaimed Documentary ‘Evolution of a Criminal’ Comes to NY and LA Theaters This October
The feature documentary, which opened at this year’s SXSW Film Festival and went on to win awards at festivals across the country, chronicles Monroe’s choice to rob a bank as a teen and how that decision forever impacted his life and the lives of those around him.
We love Issa Rae!
Before joining the team at YouTube Nation, I spent a year working for a relatively small magazine dedicated to covering the digital media space. It was your typical underpaid, understaffed, right-out-of-college job, and the only thing that made up for the lack of resources and health insurance was the opportunity it gave me to interview many incredible people changing the YouTube landscape.
Chief among them, and to this day one of my favorite interviews of all time, Issa Rae.
issarae is a writer, director, actress, and producer best known for her web series The Misadventures of Awkward Blackgirl. Since starting her YouTube channel in 2007, Rae has moved through her career with the goal of creating relatable content that realistically represents and entertains women and communities of color. Since wrapping up The Misadventures of Awkward Blackgirl, which won a Shorty Award for best web series in 2012, Rae has found herself more comfortable behind the camera, producing popular series such as First, RoomieLoverFriend, The F Word, Ratchet Theatre, and The Choir. For a look at all these series and more, check out the playlist below.
Since starting her own production company, Rae has given upcoming creators the space and built in audience to produce their own web series that she later airs on her channel. Her work on YouTube gained her a coveted spot on Forbes 30 Most Influential People Under 30 list and the opportunity to work alongside Pharrell Williams, Shonda Rhimes, and Larry Wilmore. Now, alongside fellow award winning producer Deniese Davis, Rae is launching Color Creative TV, an initiative working to create more opportunities for women and minority TV writers to showcase their pilots in the oversaturated, cookie cutter Hollywood industry. Rae and Davis have partnered with Urban World Film Fest for the premiere of Color Creative TV which will include the unveiling of three new comedy pilots written by three different writers.
As a long time fan of Rae, what I find so astounding about her is her ability not only to create entertaining content that breaks Hollywood stereotypes surrounding race and gender, but also her passion for supporting and nurturing creators following in her footsteps. The YouTube ecosystem would not be what it is today without the groundbreaking work of Issa Rae and, yet, I believe this is only the beginning.
So Issa Rae, thank you for inspiring us all to dream a little bigger and achieve all those things people said were impossible. You’re a class act my friend.
Carly Lanning is a YouTube Nation curator and, yesterday, got to dress up as a dinosaur at work. It was the best day ever.
"I feel that there is no gate that has been kept that I need to go through. I only say that because it is something that has freed me. I don’t even go to meetings. I do not go in and say, “Can you help me make this film?” I only go in if you are inviting me to tell me how you will help me make this film. It is a different posture—it is “I am making this thing. Do you want to help me make it?” If any of us try to wait for permission, it is not going to happen for us. But for better or worse, with the collapsing model of the industry, with the advent of social media and digital filmmaking, it is no longer a space where we have to sit back and wait to be heard. The compromise is recalibrating what we see as success. Is it enough to have that moment where you have reached this sister in Germany and go audience by audience and get love at the black film festivals and cultivate your audience as you go? Is it OK if you don’t win the awards or make it to a talk show or the cover of a magazine? Once we reconcile in ourselves that what we really want is to tell stories and to connect with an audience, that needs to be just as valuable to us. We need to stay focused on what matters." - Ava Duvernay