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Rejected By Sundance #1 – Preview Darryl McCane’s Drama ‘Let Clay Be Clay’

Rejected By Sundance #1 - Preview Darryl McCane's Drama 'Let Clay Be Clay'

Soon after the Sundance Institute announced its 2013 lineup of films, I posted an entry here asking black filmmakers who submitted films for Sundance consideration, but who were members of the many thousand whose films were rejected by the festival, to email me and introduce themselves and their projects, so that I can share here on S&A.

I received a few replies, and, as promised, will share each of them right here, starting with this one…

Instead of me paraphrasing, I think I’ll let the filmmaker speak for himself, since he has quite a story to tell:

My name is Darryl McCane and I want to tell you about my new feature that was submitted to Sundance as a rough cut, LET CLAY BE CLAY. I am an MFA graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film Division and in 1994, my short TEMPTATION opened Shorts Program 1 at the Sundance Film Fest.

I have gone on to do a feature doc about juvenile felons in 1999 called RESTORING JUSTICE as well as music videos for George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Rick James, Teena Marie and Patti Austin’s Maybe which won The Gold Award at the Charleston International Film Fest in 1997.

LET CLAY BE CLAY is about a mourning mother who stays in the face of the children (now adults) who she feels are responsible for her daughter’s sexual assault and murder 20 years earlier.

My story deals with juvenile crime, the alarming rate of black on black crime in Oakland, California, my home town and addresses the “don’t snitch” mentality that is allowing murders to kill and hide safely without fear of getting caught in the same neighborhoods where they committed the crimes.

For the past seven years I have been running a filmmaking program at a high school in South Central Los Angeles and during that time there has been over 40 kids murdered with many more being shot. Two murders happened on campus and I was caught in a shoot out on campus in September 2008 which prompted me to write this film.

This film originated as a comedy as I was a Producer’s Guild Power of Diversity Writing Fellow in 2007 and wrote the first draft of a high school comedy, however being from Oakland which has it’s own juvenile violence issues (2012 has seen a record number of murders in the city and the year isn’t over!), having lost friends of my own as a teen in the city, and being at Washington Prep High School in South Central where gang violence is the norm, I slowly began to realize there wasn’t anything funny about what is REALLY going on in the hood.

After the shoot out where two of our football players where shot, along with a 12 year old girl, and where I was an eye witness, I had to write and make this film.

We are totally independent in terms of financing. The film stars Angelique Perrin (STAR WARS CLONE WARS), Cafe Mocha Radio personality, Conroe Brooks (his credits include The Unit, being a part of MC Hammer’s R&B group Special Generation and his main gig as the CEO of FLASHMOB America which has had him featured on many TV shows including Modern Family, Dances with the Stars, etc), Carnetta Jones (acting coach for Meagan Good, Macy Gray, Bill Bellamy, and Taryn Manning to name just a few. She has had featured roles in Murder She Wrote, 35 and Ticking, The Death and Life of Bobby Z, and TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, to name just a few).

Our picture was shot in Oakland on a shoe string budget at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 in Oakland and we just finished the fine cut before Thanksgiving. We are sound editing and mixing as I send you this email. I was reading your article and had to at least put my self into the mix.

So there you have it, from Darryl McCane.

He sent a promo for the film which is embedded below:

LET CLAY BE CLAY from Darryl McCane on Vimeo.

This Article is related to: Features


Alma Williams

I felt the sadness of the mother in this film, and the despair and fear of those who would not "snitch". Very well done, and I am looking forward to seeing the entire film at some venue!

Jane Morrison

Mothers of murdered children need to be heard. It's about time people see how deeply mothers are affected by losing their children to crime. You never see the world the same again. It's very hard to start living again, when part of you has been stolen.

Justin W

As a funk music lover, I can say that I really enjoyed the trailer. Best wishes in all your endeavors Mr. McCane.

Felix Guillory

Thank you for the inclusion. I am very proud of you. perseverance continuing to develop your product and you will achieve bountiful rewards.
May God continue to bless you.

Sylvia Thorpes

Darryl, Bro don't be upset, just keep pushing. I don't know much about the process but what I do know is that they're missing out on an awesome story, advocacy for our youth and parents of lost loved ones. Stay positive and remember God will provide you with what is needed to have this film seen. BLESSINGS BRO!

Darryl McCane

HI Tambay,

Thank you so much for this article! I am in now way upset that my film was not accepted for Sundance. It was an early rough cut because we had finished production in June of 2012. The cut now is much further along and my early previews have been very favorable and this is from folks who don't know anything about the film.

I also appreciate the comments here about my film. I love S&A and usually read early in the morning once I get my classes underway. For the past two days I have been giving my students finals and I didn't even long on to the Net until this evening after a friend send me the link! To say I as pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I am humbled and honored you chose to include my work here. I will send you an advanced copy once the film is complete.

Warmest regards,


Interesting storyline. Over-the-top music, art, acting and choreography. Why was this project rejected by Sundance?

Miles Maker

I strongly advise filmmakers not to send a rough cut unless you're inherently connected to the organizers or lead programmers of the fest, or you're already a festival darling, or your rough cut really isn't all that 'rough' to imagine the finished film. This is because the rating/scoring process that sends a project up the food chain is often facilitated by interns and/or less-experienced viewers lacking a trained critical eye for contextual quality. Your work will nonetheless find its audience Darryl, so I encourage you to suck it up–press fwd and look for similarly top-tiered festivals for your premiere. That said, the Los Angeles Film Festival is accepting submissions even now for June 2013 in terms of timing. Official deadline is Jan. 11th

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