Faith in Filmmaking
A Few Words with Kasi Lemmons
Kasi Lemmons is the only black female director whose career has a life. Though she has had made only three films in the past decade, this is still an impressive accomplishment not only for a black American woman but also for a woman of any American color. I recently had the chance to ask the rare director a few questions about the making her latest film, Talk to Me.
How did the film come about?
You know, the first time I tried to make Talk to Me, two years ago, it was a real tragedy. I had the actors set, financing was set. We were ready to shoot in Toronto. I moved to Toronto, got a place for six months, hired a crew, and prepared to make the movie. Just before we to started shooting, the plug was pulled. It was heartbreaking.
I don't want to get into it. But Terrence Howard was supposed to star in the movie and that didn't work out. He had other commitments and complications. Whatever the case might be, the project died like that! I lost everything and had to start all over again.
That's the problem with filmmaking; it is so unpredictable and expensive.
Yes, that is the problem. It takes so long to get things together. To get the money, the right actors, the location. To lose all of that work has a real impact on you. Sometimes I wondered if I was ever going to make another film.
How did you overcome the setback?
I had faith in the script. It's a story about a period of time in America [the '60s] that was politically turbulent. You had the assassinations, the riots, the war in Vietnam. I feel that America today is also politically turbulent, and so the script was relevant.
Who came onboard the project first, Don Cheadle or Chiwetel Ejiofor?
It was Cheadle, and later it was Chiwetel. Both actors were great to work with. [And] that's so important when you are making a film. That you get along with the actors.
Any new projects?
Right now I'm focusing on this film. It was a lot of work getting it to the finish line.