Blog Directory CineVerse: Q&A with director George Tillman

Q&A with director George Tillman

Thursday, June 18, 2009

With this being minority moviemakers month at CineVerse, I thought I'd share excerpts from an interview I conducted for Screen Magazine a few years back with African American filmmaker George Tillman Jr., director of such acclaimed features as "Soul Food," "Men of Honor," and, most recently, "Notorious."

A homegrown product with roots to Chicago, Tillman reflected on working in Chicago, his favorite films and the challenges black directors face today. Here is a sample from that Q & A.

Erik Martin: What do you enjoy about shooting a film like Soul Food in Chicago?
George Tillman Jr.: I’m able to be very creative and inspired in Chicago. [20th Century] Fox wanted to shoot in L.A., but I stood my artistic ground and almost walked out on the project in protest. I wanted to get away from Hollywood and infuse the film with that midwestern working class feel. There, everything looks the same. Here, there are so many unique characters, neighborhoods and environments. Chicago kept it real for me.

Do you think directors today have a certain responsibility to their audiences?
GT: We as filmmakers need to focus less on blow-em-up action flicks and focus more on personal films that can both entertain and educate.

What kind of films do you enjoy best?

GT: The best movies are ones about real families. "The Godfather" is my favorite because it’s more about family than it is about the mafia.

What are the challenges facing African American filmmakers today?
GT:We’re trying to bring black films to a level where everyone--whether you’re white or black--can enjoy them. A few years ago, all we saw were "Hood" movies. We need to make more positive films about families and their struggles to stay together.

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