“There’s No Such Thing As ‘Black Films’” Interview with DOPE Director Rick Famuyiwa
Dope, is one of the summer’s must-see movies. The coming of age film stars Shameik Moore as Malcolm, a high school senior in Inglewood, CA. He’s torn between succumbing to his drug and gang infested neighborhood or continuing to be a stellar student worthy of admission into Harvard.
Before the script was even written, Pharrell and his multi-media production company, iAmOther attached themselves to the project. At the time, director Rick Famuyiwa only had a look-book of images and the tagline, “Nerds In The Hood”.
“…theres no such thing as ‘black film’ you’re making a film.”
This look-book also caught the eye of Academy Award winning actor, Forest Whitaker who is one of the films producers and narrators. Sean P. Diddy Combs’ company, REVOLT Films also had a hand in bringing Famuyiwa’s vision to fruition.
So what is it about Dope that’s made many of Hollywood’s heavy weights get involved in the project?
Famuyiwa says the movie deals with issues relevant to all cultures. “Whenever anyone is breaking societal norms, there’s resistance. It becomes a comfortable place for people to say ‘Who do you think you are?’ that cuts across all communities.
Famuyiwa who’s also the director behind the cult classics, The Wood and Brown Sugar is adamant about the importance of Dope not being labeled as a “black film”
“I’ve had to answer a lot of questions like ‘What do i think Dope will do for black films?’ And I reply ‘I don’t know what that is; theres no such thing as ‘black films’ you’re just making a film. And when director Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice) makes a film, people don’t say, ‘What is this doing for white cinema?’’ They just say the movie’s coming out!”
“…Three kids of color on their bikes in Inglewood should be as mainstream as Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad…”
The father of two shares that part of the inspiration behind Dope was observing how millennials interacts with each other.
“This generation is connected based on who they like and who they want to be around, the race aspect doesn’t really come up. That was motivating to see so many kids that could connect on a larger level because they have a like minded set of interests and they just don’t see each other [in terms of race].
“My goal for DOPE is that it redefines what we consider “mainstream”. Three kids of color on their bikes in Inglewood should be as mainstream as Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad.”
Famuyiwa is currently directing the HBO film, Confirmation starring Kerry Washington.