Pete Chatmon, Director/Podcaster/Author: I try and temper creativity with being very deliberate and so I watched a lot of filmmaking friends before me go to Sundance, get a similar call and not have the next project.
Film Courage: Pete, I understand the first movie you wrote and directed got into Sundance?
Pete: Yeah, I guess it’s the first one that I put out to film festivals. It’s a short film I did called 3D. It was my senior thesis film coming out of NYU Film School. If you were in undergraduate film and you were crazy enough to say I’m a director, this was the path. I did a 24-minute short film that I wrote, produced, and directed. I had to raise $24,000 to make this film. It was a different time because we had to shoot on film so everything was, people who have never shot on film have no budgetary appreciation for what that meant. The example I often use is that we had to do an answer print. When you used to develop film photographs you develop and then you get the negative back in the little pouch with the photos and you could continue to develop that negative again and again if you needed to and so that’s how we were making films. We had the negative but we had a work print and so we would cut the work print but save the negative and then when the work print was finished, we’d cut, well not us, there’d be a negative cutter with white gloves and glue who would cut the actual negative that ran through the camera and then cemented back together to match the locked picture from the work print. Then that cemented negative runs through the camera. All the film that I run through the camera is now cemented together in the configuration of the film from the print from which the film from which the prints get made. That cost $4,000 for the negative cut and I’ve made shorts for that amount of money. That film starred Dorian Missick, who was an actor I’ve met during my NYU days and has gone on to be in four or five of my projects. It starred Kerry Washington right at the beginning of her career fresh out of George Washington (she was graduating the same year I did), Al Thompson and myself and it went to Sundance and about 30 festivals around the world.
Film Courage: Did you actually think that you could get into something like this or were you thinking well it’s a wild card, we will just see?
Pete: That’s the thing I think over time. It’s nice to know that there were these potential outlets for a project but I never did the projects for those outlets so it was always enough for me to finish something that was…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
BUY THE BOOK – TRANSITIONS: A Director’s Journey and Motivational Handbook by Pete Chatmon
With a deft ability to balance both half-hour single camera comedies and one-hour dramas, Pete Chatmon has directed over 50 episodes of television including HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, Insecure, Silicon Valley, and Love Life, Netflix’s You, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Black-ish, Starz’ Blindspotting, FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the Apple TV+ series Mythic Quest. He is in development on The Education of Matt Barnes with Showtime, for which he will direct the pilot and serve as executive producer and is currently co-executive producer and producing director on Reasonable Doubt, the first project to be produced via Hulu’s Onyx Collective. His debut feature as writer/director, Premium, starred Dorian Missick, Zoe Saldana, and Hill Harper, and premiered on Showtime after a limited theatrical run. Chatmon also wrote, produced, and directed 761st, a documentary on the first Black tank battalion in WWII, narrated by Andre Braugher. Through TheDirector, his Digital Studio, he has directed, shot, and edited content for advertising agencies and Fortune 500 brands. Chatmon’s career began in 2001 with the Sundance selection of his NYU thesis film, 3D, starring Kerry Washington. His most recent short film, BlackCard, premiered on HBO, and his narrative podcast, Wednesday Morning, engaged voters around the 2020 election. His podcast, Let’s Shoot! with Pete Chatmon is available on YouTube, iTunes, and all podcast platforms. In January 2022 his book, Transitions: A Director’s Journey + Motivational Handbook was released by Michael Wiese Productions.
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