Lens Spotlight: Interview with Filmmaker Armani Martin
How did you get your start in filmmaking?
Growing up on the southside of Chicago, it provided some of the best after school programs. One included Gallery 37, which had several subgroup art programs within one building. Video production was the program I signed up for where I learned the basics of preproduction, production and postproduction.
Where do you draw inspiration for your stories?
I buy huge white foam boards and tape to my wall so I can have an enlarged drawing board!
What are some of the messages you want your audience to take from your stories?
I've always wanted to be a social activist growing up, so whatever story I'm telling in which ever genre, I'll try to incorporate a social issue.
You have a new project, Deus ex Machina, you served as writer and director, give a synopsis and tell me about your experience was like making this film.
Deus ex Machina, the story of an earnest boy and his two friends on a journey to school, features the conflicts and issues they face every time the step outside of their home. This was the probably one of the greatest experiences of my life. Mainly because I've always wanted to be a director and this was my first project, 'my baby' if you will, to see my vision turn into reality and then be praised for it, is truly a dream come true.
What do you hope viewers to take away from this project?
I hope the viewers who are not black men can ultimately feel what black men have to endure daily and I want the black men to know they are not alone.
Your film was recently screened at the BronzeLens Film Festival. How was that experience?
BronzeLens Film Festival was truly the bomb! The festival was well organized and I received the most praise and love. It was like going to a film home at BronzeLens.
What are some of the challenges you face as an independent filmmaker who is also a woman of color?
In this industry, I feel as if the industry needs us, but does not want us. It's hard being independent especially financially. Having to pave my own trail is providing me well needed experience and substantial character building. I'm loving every step of the way.
When speaking about women of color filmmakers, many instantly speak about Ava DuVernay and Issa Rae. Who are some up and coming women of color filmmakers you are fans of?
Gina Prince Bythewood, Ida Lupino, Kasi Lemmons, Darnell Martin, Euzhan Palcy, Regina King and Tina Mabry are my most favorite filmmakers alongside of Ava DuVernay and Issa Rae.
I'm currently in preproduction for my next film with my partner James 'Tiago' Bertrand that should hopefully come out early January 2017.
What advice would you give a first time filmmaker working on their first film project?
Just go out and shoot. It doesn't have to be the perfect script, with the perfect crew along with the perfect cast. Many times, everything you need is right in front of your face. Don't let money stop you, find a way or make one.
What quote or affirmation do you live your life by?
Struggle and Strength comes before Success, even in the dictionary.
Everything I do, I let God use me. I just stand there and listen to him. Undoubtedly, the work is hard, but I am strong, and the success wouldn't smell as good if I didn't struggle from it. You learn and grow through struggles.
Watch the trailer for Deus ex Machina here:
For more of this artist, please visit Armani Martin.com