"It is up to us to stand together as gay men of color and say no to jobs in the media that we know demean or misrepresent who we all are."
These are poignant and profound words from Reginald A. Flemming, an emerging black writer, director and producer of gay-themed short feature films. His current series entitled, A First Time For Everything (AFTFE), has a rather considerable and loyal fan base. They are eagerly awaiting the release of AFTFE Chapter Three, to be released later this year.
This is Part Two of my extended interview with the self-assured and candid Mr. Flemming, 32, who hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Some of the words that characterize this filmmaker's work and brand are engaging, substantive and thought-provoking.
EVANS: Reginald, welcome back! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
FLEMMING: Thanks for having me.
EVANS: Well, let's jump right in. What continues to motivate and inspire you to practice your craft?
FLEMMING: My nieces and nephews. I like to not only show but
prove to them that if you believe and work hard enough at something, your dreams can absolutely come true.
EVANS: Amazing. Ryan Coogler, the in-demand African-American director, is on a roll right now. He's directed Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station and Creed, and has signed on to the Black Panther. Coogler is almost 30, near your age. What are your impressions of/about him?
FLEMMING: I think Ryan Coogler is awesome to already have two
critically-acclaimed movies under his belt. A lot of first-time directors' debut films sink before they can even attempt to float. So for him to have two films that's been highly praised and recognized critically is pretty amazing.
EVANS: What other filmmakers do you most admire and respect -- and why?
FLEMMING: I'm a huge fan of Steven Spielberg, solely based on his
direction of E.T. and The Color Purple. He has a way of creating vulnerability and innocence on screen like no other. He knows how to scare you, excite you, and make you cry all in the same movie or a movie of its own. I love the intensity and passion of John Singleton's films. He pushes the envelope with the right amount of balance that doesn't completely turn you off. His Poetic Justice was a love story told with a solid amount of violence yet it was so captivating you almost didn't notice murder in the beginning or the domestic violence issue with Tupac's character and the mother of his daughter. Quentin Tarantino is the master when it comes to writing. His dialogue alone pulls you into his stories before he even gives you action. In some way, I wrote AFTFE based on the aesthetic Tarantino used with his Kill Bill movies. I really admire his style of writing. The late greats John Hughes and Wes Craven. I grew up on The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, and Some Kind of Wonderful. I will always chase the craft of John Hughes' writing technique. I was too young to get into Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street when it came out in 1984, but I got all the hype as I became older. The Scream movies made me want to be a horror writer. I've written two horror screenplays because of my admiration of him. Wes Craven is indeed the king of horror.
EVANS: Reginald, let's shift gears. What obstacles have you had to overcome?
FLEMMING: The acceptance of heterosexuals embracing my gay story.
EVANS: What do you think your films bring to an industry that continues to be resistant to and certainly not forward-thinking enough about content regarding the LGBTQ community?
FLEMMING: More understanding of the lifestyle with a twist of mystery. I'd like to think that most people will watch anything if the story is good enough to sustain their interest. Therefore, I try to write stories that some may see as gay and some may see as relatable. AFTFE is looked at as gay because the lead character is a male who sleeps with another male, but it's relatable if the roles were represented by a woman sleeping with a man or a man sleeping with a woman. I try to balance
it all out.
EVANS: What's your take on the continuing lack of visibility of LGBTQ individuals of color in the media (motion pictures, television, etc.) -- particularly African-Americans?
FLEMMING: Until we create our own voices and build our own platforms, we will never be understood or heard, because the media just isn't ready for our brand of life. We're only looked at as the comedic force behind a stale comedy or humor
to a drama nobody is watching. We're the joke. It is up to us to stand together as gay men of color and say "no" to jobs in the media that we know demean or misrepresent who we all are. Money is money no matter where it comes from. So if we can't say no, can we at least suggest change into a character we know is not real?
EVANS: Give us the 411 on your upcoming Lesbian feature. What's it all about?
FLEMMING: It's entitled BI-MYSELF, and is already in full production. It's about a columnist struggling with writer's block after losing her boyfriend whose been sentenced to serve time in prison. In an effort to break her writer's block, she puts herself through an experiment of dating women only -- and soon begins to fall for one of the women she dates.
EVANS. Fascinating! So, when do you start filming "A First Time For Everything, Chapter Three?"
FLEMMING: It goes into production later this spring.
EVANS: Reginald, what's your advice to aspiring LGBTQ filmmakers -- particularly those of color?
FLEMMING: Stay positive. Stay grounded. Stay humble. Writing builds growth, so write every day to perfect your craft, and stimulate your mind. Eventually the right person will read what you have to say and push you down the right path. Confidence and patience are everything.
EVANS: Reginald, thanks for such an informative and illuminating experience.
FLEMMING: It was my pleasure, Wyatt.
You can connect with Reginald A. Flemming at:
facebook.com/Reginald A. Flemming, twitter.com/rnbowconnection and youtube.com/ovada rainbow.