This article was originally published on July 9, 2018 on Cinephile's former website.
Latest Artist Talk with Award Winning Filmmaker Christopher Everett
CP: Hi Chris, how are you? CE: I’m doing well. Doing very well.
CP: Preparing for this interview I came across some information about you. You are from Laurinburg, NC? And you used to model? Tell me about your upbringing and how you got into modeling?
CE: I used to model years ago. Back when I was 100 lighter, lol. But I loved modeling and got involved in acting. Mostly acting in commercials, student and indie films. I grew up in a small town (very rural). Laurinburg, NC. There weren’t opportunities to get involved in the entertainment industry or arts like in bigger cities, but I always knew I wanted to get involved somehow and some way.
CP: Also, I saw that you are now the Communications Manager for Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. In your position at Full Frame how has that impacted your outlook on festivals and on yourself as a filmmaker? Do you feel in your position you are more conscious of the artist and reaching out to the community of film peers?
CE: I’ve been at Full Frame since December 2017. I love working at Full Frame and being around a culture of documentaries. We show some of the best docs on the planet and it’s exciting to be involved in the showcasing of these great films. It’s impacted on how I look at how festivals are ran. There is a lot of hard work, planning, etc. that goes into putting together a great festival.
CP: What made you decide to get into filmmaking? CE: I got into filmmaking after I decided to not do modeling or acting anymore. It was in 2008 where I made the transition into making films. I’ve always wanted to make movies since I was a kid, but like I said earlier, in Laurinburg you never saw that or saw anyone doing it on a high level or any level at all.
CP: Tell us about some hurdles you had to cross while making Wilmington on Fire. And, how long did that process take?
CE: The main hurdles I had to come across was money. Financing, lol. I literally had to finance Wilmington on Fire myself just to get the ball rolling. It was a huge sacrifice and it paid off. We started filming in November 2011 and finished filming the summer of 2013 and it took another 2 years to edit and get the rest of post-production funds to complete the film. We premiered at the Cucalorus Film Festival November 2015 and broke their attendance record for the most attended screening ever in the history of the festival.
CP: Congratulations on your first film being an enormous success. Now it's time for your sophomore album per say. Do you feel any pressure to live up to the greatness of Wilmington on Fire? CE: There is always pressure but I’ve still been involved in other projects since Wilmington on Fire. I was an Executive Producer of the film Black Beach / White Beach which is distributed by Gravitas Ventures and is available on Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo, etc. We just released White Face as the distributor of the film. That film is currently available on Vimeo On Demand. We are also re-releasing the 2002 underground cult film As an Act of Protest in September. My company, Speller Street Films has turned into a micro distribution company.
CP: What were some positive impacts that Wilmington on Fire had on your career as a filmmaker? CE: I’ve met so many people while doing Wilmington on Fire and screening the film. People that I probably would have never even met if I didn’t do the film. It’s open the door to be involved in other projects and meet other talented creatives.
CP: Are you looking to make documentaries, or would you like to branch off into different genres?
CE: I want to do it all. We have been doing documentaries, but we are about to start doing narrative features. One feature that my company is helping develop is a dramatic feature called “I Don’t Live Today”. We plan on shooting that in late October in New York.
CP: What are some myths about the process you believed before going into filmmaking?
CE: I believed that you had to go to film school or go to a top-notch film school like NYU to be able to do films. That wasn’t true at all. For me, it was linking up with dope cinematographers, graphic artists, editors, composers, etc. and crafting great films. Plus, building an audience and having them go on the journey with me. Today, you don’t really have to go to film school or live in NYC or LA to make it happen in the film game. I’m an example on how you can do this anywhere.
CP: Tell us about what you are working on now. CE: I’m currently filming a martial arts documentary short on Vic Moore. Grandmaster is a documentary film that illuminates the legacy of Vic Moore, one of the first African American Karate champions, and reveals the impact that martial arts have had on Black communities and culture since the 1960s. We’ve been filming since December 2017 and it’s turning out to be an awesome project.
CP: Now that you have a voice that's been heard in the film realm, what are some barriers that you'd like to break as a filmmaker?
CE: The barriers that I like to break are the barriers of funding and financing. I think we all as filmmakers, especially filmmakers of color deal with that a lot.
CP: Who are some filmmakers and movies that have inspired you?
CE: Some of the films that have inspired me are Rosewood by John Singleton and Devil in a Blue Dress by Carl Franklin.
CP: When it comes the film festival circuit do you feel it's the best way for an independent filmmaker to get their movies seen? Or should we use any and every platform available? CE: I think we should use any and every platform. I do festivals plus I do my own screening meaning I find the venue, rent it, promote the hell out of the screening, pack it out and do it all over again. The internet has really opened the door for creatives regarding to building an audience, engaging an audience, showcasing your films, etc.
Please visit the website links below to checkout Chris' films:
Check out the award-winning documentary Wilmington on Fire (DVD & Vimeo) at wilmingtononfire.com or https://vimeo.com/ondemand/wilmingtononfire
Wilmington on Fire (DVD + Soundtrack): https://spellerstreetfilms.bigcartel.com
White Face is available on Vimeo On Demand at vimeo.com/ondemand/whiteface
Black Beach / White Beach on Amazon at http://a.co/6Z6402P