I knew that whatever I called it, I had to break through the clutter.
Like my hero Stanley Kubrick, I sought to not simply tell bold stories, but to ensure that eyes were laid upon those stories, even if that took some provocation.
Being called a nigger and a race baiter by strangers on twitter was still infrequent at this point, but frankly it’s the kind of thing where is more than enough.
“You DO realize your last name means MONKEY right?? Even after the half a dozen times I’d read similar tweets and variations thereof.“Jesus I’m getting it from all sides today,” I thought as I stumbled to explain to the young man, his arms refusing to unfurl, that the film’s title derived from a controversial radio show at the center of the conflicting points of views in the film.
I idolized Kubrick for having the perseverance to make unflinching masterwork after masterwork despite audiences and critics not quite being ready for them.
They reminded me of what I wanted my work to achieve.The scene was reintroduced and provided a fitting climax that I could now model after real world events as they unfolded. “Number titles” never worked, I’d been told, assisting in the publicity department at Focus Features I’d seen fantastic black filmmakers make fantastic films about the black experience take their work all the way to Sundance only to have it fall into cultural obscurity afterwards.There were exceptions of course, but nuanced, complicated depictions of black people were not terribly en vogue in 2009.As the screening started, I headed out the back to make it to my next “word of mouth.” This time for a q&a to take place after a screening across town.A text from a conservative friend of mine encouraging me to “stay strong” had already hit my phone.I admittedly had already shifted to auto-pilot, now totally obsessing about hypothetical audience members whose assumptions about the film would keep them from the theaters because of the title.I hadn’t yet realized that pouring over youtube comments and measuring the dislike to like ratios on our trailers was killing me from the inside out.“I’ll admit, I didn’t know what this was going to be going in.I really thought I wouldn’t like it, but it really surprised me. This time to cover up a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, the aforementioned thought flicker already growing roots into my nervous system.As I began fleshing out Sam’s voice as well as the mechanics of her controversial radio show, now the catalyst for all the drama in a more recent draft of I thought to start an anonymous twitter account in order to test out quips as well as study reactions to something called “Dear White America” and incorporate them into the script.After searching and realizing account was met positively by the dozens who noticed it.