One of my earliest visceral memories was when my older brother, Duane, took me to see Jurassic Park in the summer of 93 at the Southgate Plaza theater in Ohio. Like most kids, I was fascinated with Dinosaurs, in love with them, had toys of them, and probably dedicated way too much of the space inside of my young brain to them. So when he offered to take me to see a movie that was about nothing but dinosaurs, well I leapt at the chance. Fast forward to the scene where the T-Rex is chasing the Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Robert Peck in a Jeep, and my six year old brain had decided that we were doing watching this nightmare movie, and it was now time to run screaming and crying out of the theater while my brother followed quickly on my heels laughing...
This early traumatic cinema experience, coupled with my parents own unique introductions of the Arts to me, helped put me on an uncharted journey to today. I remember multiple times watching my father tinker with his own photography cameras, and teaching himself how to shoot video when camcorders became affordable to the masses. Though it was just a hobby of his, it quickly became a hobby of mine as well, and he bought my my first camera, a 110MM point and shoot. My mother, who worked during the day and took college classes at night, always made sure to take time at least once a month to enrich me in some form of artistic culture. Be it visits to the Cleveland Museum of the Arts, local productions at playhouses, or even just reading books to me, no matter how exhausted from her long days and nights, never missed an opportunity to make sure that I had a well rounded understanding of the arts.
Yet-- growing up a Black kid in the midwest, I never thought about it being a career possibility. Even once my family moved to the greater Los Angeles area it always felt like something that was never intended for me. It wasn't until after my father passed away and I found myself spiraling through life trying to figure out where my place in this world was that I discovered film as not only a career option-- but as an escape. An escape from the inner torment that was running through my mind and spirit, a place where I could take the emotions and thoughts that were storming inside of me, and put them out into the world where others could connect with them, and have a shared experience of life across vast oceans and international borders. Film was my way of finding my place in this world.
Fast forward to over a decade later, a dozen feature films that I produced, A Gotham award surrounded by various other awards and accolades, and countless other projects I've left my mark on-- and yet I found myself looking back within myself. Knowing it was time to take a leap of faith and firmly plant myself in the Directors seat. To tell the stories I've always wanted to tell in the manner that I want to shape them in. No longer the shy nervous kid from Warrensville Heights holding his dad's freshly broken camcorder-- but an ever evolving man always trying his best to create authentic works that speak from his heart and connect with fellow lost and wandering beings doing their best to understand their place in this sometimes cold and unforgiving Universe.