Rashaad Ernesto Green makes the move from shorts to feature
Rashaad Ernesto Green is a very successful and prolific short filmmaker. Seven films to be exact – all between 2007 and 2009. His most recent short films Premature (2008), Choices (2009) and Cuts (2009) have each scored massive festival selections and awards, from Sundance premieres to the coveted HBO Short Film Award. On January 24th, Rashaad will premiere his debut feature film Gun Hill Road starring Esai Morales, Judy Reyes and Harmony Santana at Sundance.
In addition to a staggering list of accolades and international recognition, Rashaad has been an honored filmmaker at HOLLYWOOD SHORTS’ annual AFRICAN AMERICAN SHORTSFEST at the American Cinematheque twice, and he was named to our 2009 Filmmakers To Watch list. He was also selected to indieWire’s exclusive 2009 Top Ten list of New Voices In Black Cinema.
We each spend a great deal of our short film journey discussing, plotting, and planning for our own trek from short to feature. Watching Rashaad’s path to this goal has been inspirational, so we invited him to share a little insight.
Happy New Year Rashaad! You have officially crossed the bridge from short film to feature film. You have had several shorts in Sundance – how are things different with a feature premiere?
I have a lot more people behind me this time with a lot of support. And yet, I have so much more to do and accomplish before the festival surrounding the film. It’s been a full on sprint for about 3 months now.
Where did the story of GUN HILL ROAD start for you? What inspired the screenplay?
Gun Hill Road was actually inspired by a family member who went through something similar as Enrique in the story. My entire family is from the Bronx, and I wanted to investigate another side of the borough than we are used to seeing.
How did your short film work prepare you for the feature film process? What was the most challenging part of making your feature that was different than how you approach your short film work?
Directing the feature was just like directing a short, but with more people, more time, and more toys. The most challenging difference was how little time I spent directing, and how much more I was responsible for lifting the morale of the cast and crew.
Sundance has played a major part of your short film experience over the years. What does it mean to you to now bring your first feature to the festival?
Sundance has been like a filmmaking family for me. They really look out for filmmakers who have come through their ranks, and I’m deeply appreciative of that. I am humbled and honored to premiere my first feature in a place where so many wonderful films have had their start.
How did the success of your short films play a role in getting your feature film funded and produced?
The success of the shorts played a substantial role in getting noticed. I would have never have been trusted to direct a feature if I didn’t have the shorts under my belt.
Any advice for fellow directors who are in the process of the transition from short to feature?
Don’t rush. Get very comfortable in the medium before taking the leap. Shoot as many shorts as you can. Once you’re comfortable and get in the groove, it’s like riding a bike. You’ll be smooth sailing.
Gun Hill Road World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
Monday, January 24
Library Center Theatre
Filed Under: Filmmakers to Watch