Here is an essay I wrote on the intersection of race and commerce in the recent film Furious 7: Tears in Dom’s World.
Having admired Kehinde Wiley’s work from the web for so many years it was a revelation to see the canvases in person. They were larger than I expected them to be. Majestic. Looking at a canvas closely you can see technique. And there’s a moment I love as you back away from a painting that technique turns into the picture itself. With Wiley’s pieces I found myself backing up further. The other viewers themselves — often white — became a part of viewing Wiley’s black and brown subjects. I wonder if this is on purpose.
My friend Zoran came out on one of the coldest nights of the year to capture these images of us working. I’ll thaw out in a couple weeks.
The twin grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner roiled the city in November and December. Against this backdrop I began production on my first feature film, a lifelong dream. But if filmmaking is the act of creating a dream world, then raising one’s own voice amid a chorus/cacophony of others in protest felt both more real than anything else, and movie-like.
The footage above is from a protest that took place two weeks before we began shooting. Climbing the barrier to the FDR, stopping traffic both ways, then proceeding to “take” the Brooklyn bridge was surreal — the car horns blaring (some in support, some in opposition) were felt as much as heard. I took the photo below after a long week of production. Having missed a major protest in the city while filming that day, I was content to begin a weekend of relaxation. But from the apartment we heard helicopters, then distant chants. One branch of the march had reached our neighborhood and, well, history waits for no one.
The news that two NYPD officers had been killed in Brooklyn rippled through our film set another day — our location was not a ten minute drive from where it happened. Between takes small groups could be heard discussing the implications. But my mind was on the task at hand — we were filming a party scene that night, one of the most difficult on our schedule.
Our production finishes soon. It is a new year, but the jumble of emotions that is this moment in New York continues. The camera is one tool that sees both dreams and reality. I am learning to juggle the two.
I’ve been writing the film 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story? for the better part of the year, and will be directing it soon. It’s been a tremendously rewarding journey to start with a few ideas and now find myself working with an amazingly talented cast and crew to bring the project to life. We’ve raised a lot of money so far, and are launching a campaign today to add the last few bells and whistles so we can really do it right. Please take a look, share, and support!
Longtime observers of the dotcom might make the connection from the artwork above to this photo I took nearly two years ago. Because everything really is a process. So, please, become a part of it. Thank you.
In preparing for The Film, nearly everything else has taken a back seat. Even the consideration that goes into a photo. Mainly it’s been snapshots, on the new, improved phone. Locations, rehearsal, that sort of thing. Ideally all the work unspools in one 90-minute sequence of uninterrupted beauty. But as a hedge, or to see how the sausage gets made there’s a lot of activity going on at #72hrsBK, so please follow Instagram and Twitter. Stay in touch, baby. I’ll keep making it do what it do.
I took some photos at this years annual Labor Day Caribbean Parade. Like, hundreds of photos. I’ve culled the best ones into a longer visual piece. Below is a video teaser capturing some of the motion not present in the stills.
A few weeks ago my friend Peter asked me to photograph a recent project of his. Designed in concert with his graduate students at RISD, the Disaster Go Bag is made for when the apocalypse strikes and it’s time to peace out. It’s made of a custom textile that filters air, or, you know, disease spores. It also generates power for small electrical devices and contains a bottle with a custom filter top to create potable water from any source, like swamps. The glow-in-the-dark ribbing is for when you need to keep the zombie watch going well past dark. You know, just in case.
I designed a baseball cap. And though it can be summed up in five words, the process took about ten months. They’re inspired by some Brooklynites who’ve inspired me: Jackie Robinson and Jean-Michel Basquiat. There’s even a line from a Langston Hughes poem (for whom one of the largest public housing towers in Brooklyn is named) printed on the bias tape underneath the cap. Along with one of the flyest camouflage details you’ve ever seen. (Who has that? Nobody, that’s who!). It’s been some of the most painstaking, detail-oriented work I’ve ever done.
Please buy one, if you wanna look as fresh as me.
And if you don’t wanna look fresh. Well, that’s alright, too.
Here are a couple pics I shot awhile back with carpet designer Joe Carini. It happens often enough. Either you’re waiting for a specific date when something is published, or approvals, or whatever. And by the time they’re live you forget to tell people anything at all.
Joe has been a great inspiration to me. His work is radical – pushing boundaries everywhere. Many of his carpets are collaborations, many others are inspired by graffiti or the streets. All are expertly crafted, hand-sewn in Nepal. In his office are african masks, a motorcycle, and paintings by famous artists.
We shot this picture in the Gowanus Batcave — location of this music video. Joe saw the video and said, “I have to go there.” So we went. Carrying an incredibly expensive silk rug over barb wire. And made some magic.
The achievement in this essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates is in putting the cost of racism into tangible, quantifiable terms, while also weaving a compelling emotional journey. Writing at its very best.
I’ve been searching for an original way to say this, but the basic concept is this: I’m making a movie!
ed note: Thanks to all our many backers for a successful campaign!
The film is called 72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story? In it, over the course of one weekend, we see love, love lost, and something gained in its place. It’ll be great. I promise.