February 7, 2021   No Comment   Interviews, Videos

“One Night in Miami” director Regina King carries a jump rope to set, keeping it in her backpack until those particularly tense moments when everything goes haywire behind the scenes — like when an actor needs a pep talk, the crew has a tech issue or the weather shuts down production. In these instances, the filmmaker breaks out the jump rope for a two-minute surge of oxygen to keep her head in the game.

“I like to call myself a control enthusiast,” King says, explaining how she’s adapted her working style from actor to the director managing the set. “Going into it, I’m like ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ But it’s terrifying at first. You’re always up against the clock. A question needs to be answered by you. And you still have to stay focused and, even if something changes, you have to come up with a solution. You still want to stay the course.”

In conversation for Variety’s “Directors on Directors” series, King and “Queen and Slim” director Melina Matsoukas share how their make-it-work attitudes have paid dividends as they crafted their feature directorial debuts.

“When you’re in it, I really feel like it’s a mental war. You’re fighting for every shot, for every moment, for everything,” Matsoukas notes. “It’s not easy, it’s not for the weak.”

King’s piece of historical fiction centered on four of history’s most legendary men — Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Cassius Clay and Sam Cooke — and Matouskas’ romantic drama about two young people on the run after a traffic stop gone bad, have a few obvious connections. Both films are about legacy, community and are love letters to Black people, but that’s not the only reasons that the films are alike.

It’s also not just because Matsoukas is an exec producer on HBO’s “Insecure,” for which King directed the Season 3 finale “Ghost-like.” Ultimately, King and Matsoukas belong to a special order of visual storytellers: Black women taking charge behind the scenes and working to make a way for those to come after them.

You can read the full article/transcript in our press library and watch the interview in our video vault.

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