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Behind The Camera: A Two Part Series Featuring BlackStar Filmmakers

I must begin this post with apologizing for my lack of posting. In addition to the awesome advances in my writing career, I have been experiencing bouts of depression and stress that resulted from a number of things including class registration, (daytime) job hunting, and the death of my Uncle Trent. Things have seemed to settle down and I will continue to provide you with the insightful and compelling stories that you are used to.


Behind The Camera: A Two Part Series Featuring BlackStar Filmmakers. 

July 31st – August 3 BlackStar Film Festival. The festival, in its third year has gained international recognition though showcasing some one the brightest new and seasoned Black Cinema. This year’s festival was home to features such as Till Infinity: Souls of Mischief, Little White Lie, They Die By Dawn, and Time Is Ilmatic, in addition to a host of other films, documentaries, and shorts. 

When I wasn’t completely engrossed in a movies had the privilege of interviewing Terence Nance and Jatovia Gary. We talked growing up in Texas, creative process, and how honest you can be when a camera is staring you in the face. 

During The BlackStar Film Festival, I was able to catch up with Terence Nance. The Dallas, Texas born and raised filmmaker and musician gained much notoriety after releasing his feature film, An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty, where Nance is not only the director, but a main character.  


Terence Nance

Terence on his upbringing:
My parents are artist: my dad is a photographer, my mother was an actress. My dad can sing, he plays instruments. My uncles are musicians. It was very normal to be an artist in my family. It was very comfortable to express yourself in that way. My mother taught at a performing arts high school. My brother went there.

Terence on being in front of the camera:

I chose the form of my movie to make it more consistent with one’s experience with of a song. I worked on Arthur Jafa’s film when he was shooting Storyboard P, he was really really strict about that and he is very right about that. I learned and agreed. I think that the camera represents the bias perspective. Even for me to say that I want to know what you have to say is to put myself on one side of the line. The desire to glean information from somebody means that you want to analyze it and filter it through your perspective. Once it hits the camera its been filtered through something. My movie is about the camera, on some level, and how you can not get an objective truth from a filmed experience. That why it’s an oversimplification of her beauty, because a camera can’t really capture what its like to be sitting in front of her, or be with her – the camera has disabled that. I think that it is present in AJ’s film -that awareness, that the camera is over simplifying things. It’s making people over simplify themselves even, not consciously but subconsciously.

Terence on how to get the most honest response out of a subject:

It’s impossible to know. There is no real method. The nature of filmmaking is chasing a moving target. It’s really an inexact science. Specifically, working with performers it’s all about, who I am at that given moment, How I am feeling, how that person is feeling, how old they are, what experiences they’ve been through, how they like to be talked to. Its is sunny out that day? Its too many factors. It’s about being perceptive and trying to feel out what works at any given moment. I’ve been working on remembering that everyone is a child. Everybody has a 2-year-old side to them. In some ways you have to make decisions because 2-year-old’s can’t.

Terence gives and explanation:

I would say the ability to be distracted. We haven’t mastered distraction in our life.

Terence on his upcoming project:

It’s in its very early stages. We shot it. That’s all that really happened – we shot it. It’s about water and the divine feminine.



Look for my interview with Jatovia Gary Next Wednesday 


Filed under: Interview, Series

About the Author

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Melissa "Lissa Alicia" Simpson is a 23-year-old freelance journalist, media & marketing specialist, event curator and amateur model. Her interest include binge watching Dr. Who, writing creative nonfiction, street art, and sleep. Lissa currently lives in West Philly and can often be found at some sort of art show or independent music event. If you she her, say hi!

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