Origin Story: I was born and raised in Woodbridge, Virginia, a suburb just outside Washington, D.C. The great thing about growing up in Woodbridge is that it was such a diverse town. It's still VA, so racism was afoot, but I've always had the privilege of being exposed to kids my age of different races, religions, and familial structures. Another great thing about Woodbridge: for most of my childhood, there was a $1 theater a few miles from where I grew up. One of those dives where the projection was horrific, the floor was always sticky, and the movies had been released for a month before getting screened there, but since a ticket was only a dollar, my father could afford to take me and my twin brother very often. My father wasn't what you would call a cinephile. He didn't know about Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, or the like, but the man loved being in the theater. It's a love that I adopted, and it was in that theater that the seed of becoming a filmmaker was planted.
Years later, that seed grew into a dream, then by 2007, a full on obsession. At that time, I didn't know film school existed (seriously), so I got down to the business of teaching myself everything about how to make films via Google searches and YouTube how-to videos. Eventually, I developed enough knowledge and skill to make films from start to finish, and I've been doing it ever since.
Pipeline Accolades: First Look Project finalist (Alieu the Dreamer)
Accolades: My work has won an Edward Murrow Award for News Documentary, an ASME Ellie Award for News Documentary, and a Short format Daytime Emmy Nomination. Biggest of all, I was the inaugural winner of BET's Project CRE8 competition with Paramount Players and got the opportunity to write and direct my first feature film. I ended up composing the score for the film as well.
On Being an Artist: It's akin to taking off all your clothes to the skins and walking around Times Square presenting yourself to everyone, not only hoping they like what they see, but that they're also INSPIRED by it. When they tell you they're not impressed (and may even be offended) by your nakedness, you go home to do a few push ups so you can hurry back to Times Square the next day and do it again.
The beautifully tragic thing about this absolutely mental way of life is that you have no desire to do anything else ... That's what it's like to be an artist.
Fueled by: I genuinely don't enjoy doing anything else but making things and sharing them with other people. I also really like hanging out with good and interesting people, but there's no career where they pay you to do that.
Currently: I'm happy to be a full-time artist with enough freelance opportunities to keep the lights on as a short-form producer, documentary DP, and editor.
Someday: They'll refer to my films and art as being transformative for the industry. The conversation will go something like, "Tarkovsky, Bergman, Kurosawa, Lee, Ledbetter ..."
*Feature Photo: Quincy Ledbetter