I am elated for the opportunity to interview Corey Grant whose film, Illicit was nominated and selected to premiere at the American Black Film Festival, June 16th, 2016 at 5:05 PM (Regal Cinemas, South Beach 18: Auditorium#17) Miami Beach, Florida. It is very encouraging to see so many African American directors making their marks in Hollywood.
Corey Grant attended Norfolk State University in Virginia where he received his BA in Communications. After graduating and working for NBC, he decided that film was his ultimate goal and passion. He moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University to receive his Masters in Film.
I invite you to take the time to check out the important contributions Corey Grant is making in the film industry. Corey Grant prides himself on producing quality and entertaining stories that are cutting edge and original.
Where are you from originally, and what led you to relocate to Los Angeles, California?
I’m originally from Joliet, Illinois, and what led me to start my journey to get to Los Angeles was realizing what my calling was and that was making movies. I realized that it was something I had to do and it was a no-brainer. I live to make movies.
Do you have any special training that prepared you to deal with the everyday challenges of working in Hollywood?
Nothing really prepares you for what you deal with in Hollywood in terms of the politics and BS, and I do mean that. However, attending Howard University and receiving my MFA in film did force me to learn the fundamentals of filmmaking and script writing. Being on set each time out is a learning experience that refines and prepares you for the next project and the one after that.
Can you talk about why you decided to work in the entertainment industry?
Well, I never look at it as work that is why I am able to deal with the ups and downs and the financial challenges living this life brings. You have to love it or you will never be able to sustain long enough to start seeing success, both personally and financially. It’s a challenge.
What projects have you worked on in the past?
I have done a couple comedy dramas. Dysfunctional Friends, starring a who’s who in black Hollywood has done well and can now still be seen on Netflix, BET, and Starz. Another movie called Sister Code, starring Amber Rose and a list of others can be seen on BET and Netflix as well. Also, I have a horror thriller called, Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes available worldwide in all mediums and is also available for streaming on Hulu.
What are you currently working on now?
Right now I’m in development on a comedy drama called Marriage 4 Dummies which I think will do very well. The script is really good. I’m also developing a couple of TV shows with my team. Also we are preparing the release of our latest feature Illicit so we are pretty busy.
What do you hope to accomplish with the films that you have directed and produced?
I just hope to raise the bar in terms of how people respond to independent film, in particular black independent film since it has a bad rep and has been saturated with less then excellent films over the years. I have done well with the reception of Dysfunctional Friends and Sister Code. We hope to get an even bigger positive reception from Illicit.
Do you mind talking about the hurdles you may have encountered being a black director in Hollywood?
Lol! Everything is a hurdle for us. Being over looked by the top agencies. Not getting your movies picked up for equal amounts as your white peers, always having to work 20x harder to get almost half as far. I can go on and on, but if you ever heard of the one at a time rule, it’s alive and thriving in Hollywood. It can be overwhelming at times but you stay pushing because of your faith and belief in what you are doing.
It appears that more black actors are getting more leading roles in both television and feature films. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think this trend will continue? Why or why not?
Hollywood is a place of trends; it follows what’s hot and what’s making money. The minute these shows stop getting great ratings or this type of film with black leads fail at the box office, it will be right back to us getting limited opportunities. The only way this changes is we have to get people of color with green light power in the studios that can pull triggers. As long as it’s 100% controlled primarily by white males, it will remain a challenge. Don’t be fooled into thinking things have changed. It’s slightly better but still terrible.
Can you talk about the filming process from start to finish?
Coming up with an idea, thinking if its commercial enough.
- Writing the script
- Attaching the talent that can make it something of value.
- Approaching investors and studios to get the financing.
- Pre -production
- Casting, scheduling, hiring crew, getting locations
- Actually shooting the movie
- Post- production
- The editing, coloring and scoring of the movie, Coming up with the marketing plan and finding distribution if you don’t have a distributor in place
Your newest film Illicit has been selected to be a part of the American Black Film Festival, can you talk about what this means for you as a director?
ABFF is a great place to showcase films by filmmakers of color and the publicity goes far in getting people familiar with you and your work. This is my second time playing ABFF and the publicity I received back in 2011 helped secure my name in Black Hollywood and I’ve been building from that to this day. It will help get the pre-buzz going for Illicit as we begin preparing to set it up with the right distribution and buzz for a wide release.
Lastly, thank you for doing this interview. I am wishing you great success in your future endeavors.
To learn more about Corey Grant and his recent film Illicit , please visit his website