#BonfireStories — Welcoming Filmmaker Martina Lee

Our Campfire
5 min readJul 17, 2020
Martina Lee | Photo Credit: Unknown

Q: When it comes to storytelling, where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by the people and experiences that have shaped my life. The two shorts I directed are very much about father relationships with their children. Growing up without a dad myself and a pretty unconventional mother, it definitely influences the stories I tell.

Q: Martina, What set the gears in motion to finally make Black Boy Joy?

I was accepted into the Project Involve, a film independent fellowship that focuses on supporting emerging filmmakers from communities underrepresented in film and entertainment. Black Boy Joy was one out of six films produced during the 2019 year.

Q: How did Black Boy Joy come about?

Black Boy Joy was written by a Project Involve writing fellow Michelle Sam. This was a story close to her heart and I felt drawn as a director. We wanted to explore this idea of Black male vulnerability. There are so many situations in life in which black men feel like they can’t express their feelings. We wanted to tell that story through the lens of a grieving family that also is dealing with a son who is on the spectrum. When you have Otis, a father figure who represents a very old school method of parents and a young boy with autism who processes emotions differently than other kids, it makes for an interesting conflict and conversation about what it means to raise black boys in America.

Q: When you have William Catlett and Evan Alex in a scene, is there something that’s unique about what is going on in that room from your standpoint?

One of my favorite scenes is Miles trying to get Selim to pick out his clothes. Both Evan and Will are such dynamic actors that a lot of those lines were improved. There is an ease about their performances that makes you believe them. I worked with Evan before on my last film Blueberry so we were really comfortable together. Will also brought this emotional maturity to him that was just really beautiful to watch.

Q: Martina, you were an Emerging Director at the 2019 ABFF Award for your film “Blueberry”. Now, you’re back with “Black Boy Joy’’ for the HBO Short Competition. How important is this to you personally

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