Filmmaker Tag

Inspiring Artist – Mira Nair


Yo, if you’re new: This is where I share artists that have been inspiring to me in my work sometimes directly and other times. Case in point. Mira Nair, an amazing filmmaker from India who spends her time back and forth between India, Uganda, and the US. I’m not sure which film I saw first but I have loved so many of her films. Her style, her eye, but also her activism, and her convictions. 

She once said 
“If we don’t tell our stories, no one will” -Mira Nair

In reference to the talk of diversity which is really a talk of a century of exclusion from funding, resources, and access to filmmaking (but applies to other forms of storytelling) and she backs it up. Don’t believe me? Go check out The Namesake, Salaam Bombay, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Queen of Katwe, and so many others. If I were a big studio executive, I’d give her the maximum budget and all the resources she needs to run with it.

She’s worked with so many great actors such as Tabu, Denzel Washington, Kal Penn, Irrfan Khan, Tanya Maniktala, Lupita Nyongo, Liev Schrieber, Kiefer Sutherland, Riz Ahmed, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Sarita Choudhury, Richard Gere, soo many.

If you haven’t seen any of her films, check them out! I should add that one of the amazing things about her is her independent hustle to get projects made! Also, check out her company Maisha Film Labs in Kampala Uganda. Did you catch the last artist I mentioned?
The last inspiring artist was James Van Der Zee

Kindred Journey 32 – Seti-X

I Feel like I’ve known Mandeep Sethi aka “SETI-X” forever. But let me introduce him to you. Mandeep is a super kind, conscious, down to earth, and caring. Seti started rapping as a teen and turned a love of music in hip hop and traditional music to a life. He grew up as part of the Sikh (pronounced “SIC”) community and almost always has his hair wrapped up. After attending the Asian Hip Hop Summit in LA Seti began to battle rhyme in a rich and multicultural environment that is LA. He would go on to make some dope material releasing 7 projects that ranged from full albums to EPs. He also performed as a guest artist on other peoples work and on mixtapes recording a huge catalogue of music.

Seti has a very sharp intellect and rhymes about police brutality, global imperialism, history, spirituality, respect for the sisters, and of course hip hop culture. In fact I’ve seen spit bars off the top of his head multiple times-an improvisational skill not many outside of Jazz can do. Besides making music he has toured internationally playing all across the US, UK, Canada, and India. He is a member of the Universal Zulu Nation and is an activist who makes music about political issues such as the murder of Charly Afrika by LAPD and the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. He’s a teacher who has for years worked in public schools and juvenile justice system. He has been awarded by the California Endowment, the American India Foundation, and the Los Angeles Community Action Network. He’s been featured on MTV’s Coke Studio in India and W. Kamau Bell’s “Shades of America” on CNN.

This brother has also rocked alongside cats like Mos Def, Ras Ceylon, Deuce Eclipse, Ziggy Marley, Dilated Peoples, Bicasso and Murs of Living Legends, Tom Morello, and so many more. This cat also happens to be a dope videographer that has made two documentary films. Put him on your list and sprinkle some respect on his name. You can support his music here and follow him here.

Sources: American India Foundation,, Team Backpack, Desi Hip Hop
Fav Song: Fyah Pon Babylon

Did you see the piece I did of Yuna Zarai? Or the one of Equipto?

Black is Beautiful 2020 – Kasi Lemmons

Born in 1961, Kasi Lemmons began as a child actress. By the late 80s she had acted in nearly a dozen tv and film roles. She starred in films such as School Daze, Candyman, The five heartbeats, The Silence of the Lambs, Drop Squad, and GridLock’d. But whats more is that she began writing and directing, putting forth stories that highlight Black life! 
I first came across Kasi as an actress in “Fear of A Black Hat” a comedy that played on so many things in our society and hip hop. Then I saw Eve’s Bayou. That film still resonates today. And if the ending scene of Harriet is any indication, we’re just beginning to see what Kasi has for us next. I urge you to check out some of her films and see the ground she has broken for Black women in Hollywood where it is still extremely difficult to get your story made.

Salute Kasi! Let the producer gods bless you with many great and well financed opportunities to tell your stories!

Sources: Imdb, LA Times, Wikipedia, Tiff

Want to see more Black excellence?
Jackie Ormes– Cartoonist
Ava DuVernay-Director

Black is Beautiful (2018) 11 – Marlon Riggs

Marlon Riggs was a pioneering Black gay filmmaker. He was born in 1957 in Fort Worth Dallas and  grew up there as part of a military family and moved around a lot. He lived in Georgia and Germany as a result. Always an incredible student and queer he faced discrimination, racism, and alienation from both many people. In the mid 70s he got a scholarship to Harvard University and although he excelled academically was hiding his true sexuality. Then Marlon moved to the Bay Area where he attended UC Berkeley study film and Black history. He became a filmmaker and shot his first documentary “Long Train Running” about West Oakland blues history in 1982. He also began to embrace his sexuality and bean what would become a life long relationship with Jack Vincent. They were among the first gay couples in the Bay to apply for domestic partnership. He went on to become a faculty member at UCB an self funded and produced another film called “Ethnic Notions” about the historic portrayal of Black folks which aired on PBS. He went on to join a group called the “Black Gay Men United” and made a film called “Tongues Untied” which was revolutionary in its portrayal of queer Black men. The film received wide acclaim and criticism. Riggs would go on to make several more films, to win international film awards, to become a young tenured UCB faculty member, and to receive an honorary degree from CCAC (now CCA). Marlon learned after having kidney failure that he was HIV positive. He would later die from complications of AIDS and he vowed to not stay silent about the disease which was ripping apart both queer and straight communities across the US. Marlon was a pioneer in film, Gay pride, and Black history.

Sources:,, I Shall Not Be Removed (film)

Inktober 12 – Aurora Guerrero

 Aurora Guerrero is a Xicana filmmaker from San Francisco who started working in film in the mid 2000’s. She went to school at UC berkeley and began assisting or working as a PA while she made short films. She then developed her first narrative feature film, the groundbreaking film Mosquita y Mari which explored a romance, attraction, and friendship between two young women who were Multilingual, multicultural and Xicana as well. Since the success of this film she’s gone on to direct for TV shows such as Fly and Queen Sugar. On a personal note, I got to meet some of the crew who worked on #mosquitaymari and they beamed w/admiration for Aurora and her film. Once I saw it I understood why. We need more women of color directing films and tv! Can’t wait to see what story she develops next. 

Sources: Remezcla,IMDb, IndieWire 

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Erica Eng- Aggregate Watches

So this past month I got a chance to work with filmmaker Erica Eng and if I was you I would hire her. Not only does she have experience shooting, but she is a whiz at producing, editing, and overall project management. I got the chance to drive around the crew on this shoot and help out by acting in a few scenes for this commercial/kickstarter. Bookmark her under filmmakers on the west coast. Follow her on vimeo.  And watch the kickstarter video from Aggregate watches for the new product “Masonic” which is a clean watch made with steel and concrete.

Who is She? 2- Merata Mita

Merata Mita was an indigenous Maori filmmaker from new Zealand. Born in 1942, she was thr first woman in NZ to direct a documentary film. Patu! , her first film was about the protests and acts of civil disobedience that many New Zealanders exhibited when a rugby team from the then apartheid state of South Africa came to play matches in NZ. She went on to direct and act in several films, saying that she wanted to tell stories instead of give foreign filmmakers the key to Maori lives. She was a pioneer in NZ pushing the filmmaking forward in the country. A documentary by her son about her life is in the works and Sundance has named an award for film after her. 
Sources: The Independent UK (blog), Interview by Karin Williams (youtube)

Inktober 6-Gina Prince Bythewood

One of the most incredible things about this series is that I get to share art and other peoples art with you. I’m having fun drawing Inktober drawings and I wanted to draw Gina who is a phenomenal filmmaker. She has been working in the industry for well over two decades as a writer on TV shows such as “A Different World” and as a writer/director. One of the ongoing themes of her films has been perseverance and love. In her films the characters go through trials and tribulations but come out stronger on the other side. Some of my favorite films by her are Love and Basketball, Disappearing Acts, and now Beyond the Lights. If you have seen her work, please go check her work out.

Listen to her interview w/ Array on “The Call In”

Want this Print? $20 (includes shipping)  
Got an idea for an org to donate 30% cost to? Email me

Inktober 5- Ava DuVernay

This is an Inktober drawing of film maker Ava DuVernay using brush, ink, a little bit of water color, and some white pastel. The reason I’m drawing Ava is because she has been a tremendous creative influence on me. Both her work in creating and promoting films has been humble, tough, creative, and incredible. And although I only became aware of her once she did the Hip Hop documentary “This is the Life” about The Good Life Cafe in Leimert Park, I feel like I’ve watched watched her grow so much. I’m not going to give you her whole story, you can google that for yourself, but I will say her contributions to the medium of storytelling through film have been amazing. If you are not familiar with her film work, google her. If you are not familiar with Array/ Affirm distribution model for independent Black films, look that up too. I promise you will be inspired. Middle of Nowhere, The Door, , Vermont is for Lovers too, Venus Vs, and Selma are my favorite pieces of hers so far. Can’t wait to see what she does next whether it is quiet or loud.

Dig this? Check out this portrait of Kasi Lemmons

Inktober 4-Mira Nair

“My sort of mantra in life and in films is if we don’t tell our own stories, no one else will tell them
Mira Nair

Mira Nair is one of my biggest inspirations for storytelling. She has been working as a film director since the late 80s and has made countless narrative films from the perspective of a person of color. Why is that important? Because very often when films about people of color are made they are often made by white directors who either leave things out of the story, misinterpret, or completely ignore the poc story and put themselves at the heart of the narrative. Ever heard of “Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, The story of Steve Biko, even hip hop films like Electric Boogaloo? These films are often set in a community inhabited by Black and Brown folks but their story is not told.

Films like Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, Salaam Bombay, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist made by Mira tell stories from inside the lives of people of color that we as movie lovers rarely see, by a person of color.

One of the other reasons I am inspired by her is her work to share knowledge, her refusal to compromise her art, and her ability to move within and outside of Hollywood. Not only has she worked on films that focus on POC but she’s also worked with Hollywood to tell stories like Amelia Earnhart, which to me shows an openness to try all angles. And since the time of Salaam Bombay she has dedicated time, expertise, and money to teaching the craft of film making to people of color or helping to fund their education in someway. A good example is her film company Maisha Film Labs based in Uganda. If you havent seen her work, go check her out!

Want this Print? $20 (includes shipping)  
Got an idea for an org to donate 30% cost to? Email me