- When it comes to storytelling, where do you get your inspiration from?
I always want to tell stories that have some kind of importance or social significance to me personally. I never intentionally try to get inspired but when you view everything from a creative lens, there’s inspiration everywhere. My friends, girlfriend, family, and community are some of my biggest sources of inspiration. I’m a very quiet person, so just through listening and observing I get ideas for new stories.
2. Why was this story of “April Again” so important to tell?
This story was so important to me because I’ve never seen anything like it on screen. New York is such a hotbed for filming but rarely do people from Jamaica Queens get to see their community issues highlighted. I tried to add in as many societal issues as I could without being preachy. Gentrification is a huge thing in my neighborhood right now. And anyone who’s ever gotten on the train at Jamaica Station knows there’s a huge homeless epidemic. So I wanted to put a face to these issues so hopefully people would empathize with those that are dealing with it.
3. How did you prepare for your role as both the writer and director for the project?
I use to view myself as just a screenwriter and I tried the best I could to find someone to direct my work. I guess I felt like since I didn’t go to film school I wasn’t qualified at first. Eventually I realized that this was something I could do and began preparing for it. I learned everything through watching critically acclaimed movies and then really bad movies and trying to see what separates them. I also probably watched every how to video on YouTube as well haha. So yeah, basically the writing thing was always me, but I had to convince myself that I could be a leader on set and direct.
4. Tell us about being vulnerable in your work? Do you think there’s a line?
I think the ability to be vulnerable is a plus, especially as a writer. So much of the dialogue is my actual thoughts, fears and frustrations voiced by the character. As far as there being a line, I’m not exactly sure but if there is I haven’t reached that point yet. Right now it’s just therapeutic that I found a medium in which I can empty out my mind and if someone doesn’t agree I can always say “Hey that wasn’t me, that was the character who said that.”
5. What kind of world do you want to see now that your film “April Again” is made? (For clarification) We know that there is a message you as a filmmaker are conveying to your audience, what is that message?
My message is to try your best to empathize with everyone and know that at the end of the day, we’re all human and we all have a story. There’s some other messages in there about gentrification, mental health, the school system and the incarceration cycle as well, but I really want people to interpret those in whatever way they please. As far as the world that I wish to see, I’m not even sure. If nothing else I hope this ignited more people from my neighborhood to see that we can tell our own stories with little to no resources, just talented friends.
6. What would you say is your unique responsibility as a filmmaker?
My role as a filmmaker is to tell stories that matter but above all in my book film needs to be entertaining. Whether it’s a comedy, drama, horror film etc, I want people to leave happy, but also feel challenged. While I have your eyes and ears, I wanna sneak in some things that make you view life a little bit differently.
How can others reach out to you and/or stay informed about your upcoming projects?
My personal Instagram is @countthebasquiat_ but my films page is @longshotcinema. You can check my film out on Amazon Prime and if you’re in NYC, it’ll be playing at Magic Johnson’s AMC in Harlem on June 1st!