I had a chance to catch the breakout film at the Atlanta Film Festival back in early April. Here you’ll find the Q & A of filmmaker Justin Simien, where he chatted about everything from black LGBT representation in film to Tyler Perry films. Be sure to catch the satire; it opens on today. Also, check out Simien’s interview with Tavis Smiley.
On the film making process: The making the film has taken eight years. The process started in 2006 when I was just finishing up college at Chapman University. The first draft of the film was finished in 2007 and it was absolutely horrible but I received some help along the way from Lena Waithe and others to make the film into what it is today.
Art reflecting life: All four kids have something about me in them…I tend to tell people I entered college as Lionel (Tyler James Williams) and left as Sam (Tessa Thompson) but the truth is the characters are all just different shades of me…
The storytelling process: I’m a storyteller, I really think I was put on this earth to tell stories. In telling stories I really think it’s about shedding truth on the human condition. For “Dear White People” it’s such a pleasure to sort of show people themselves [black, white, etc]. My job is to tell the truth….I get off on that, if I can tell the truth in some way then it’s a story that I always want to tell.
Shooting Location: We shot the film in Minneapolis at The University of Minnesota. We looked at a few cities but Minneapolis just had the right combination of tax rebate and colleges who were willing to let us film there.
Black LGBT representation: Characters who are black and gay aren’t normally fleshed out and made into real people in black films so I wanted to do that in this film. I decided why don’t I do that with him [Lionel].
Go here for the entire Q &A.