Seven Questions for the directors of "Black and White and Red All Over"
by Anthony Kaufman
DeMane Davis, Harry McCoy and Khari Streeter, the Boston-based directing trio
that made "Black and White and Red All Over" appear like three integral parts of a miraculously functioning brain: Davis is calm and charismatic, McCoy appears
pragmatic and experienced while Streeter with backwards baseball cap, bubbles with energy.
The film is a modern fable about six African-Americans holed up in an
apartment, smoking pot and arguing about themselves, the media and their
society as the violence of the times inevitably overtakes them.
Receiving critical praise at Sundance with no distribution as of yet,
the sold-out screenings last weekend at the New Directors/New Films
series marked their second festival outing. Together, with their forth
wheel, producer Mark Hankey, I talked to them just an hour before their
indieWIRE: How do three directors work together?
Khari Streeter: It was cool. Basically, we shared the work and that
made the work a lot easier. Instead of three times the work, there's
one-third the work.
Demane Davis: We worked in advertising together before, so... Harry's a
producer, now he's a director, a commercial director and so we've all
had to collaborate on commercials before so it's really easy. We just
all go to our strengths and...
Harry McCoy: We use the team format that we had built working together
iW: How did you split the work? What are your strengths?
Streeter: It was kind of like whatever was necessary at the moment, you
know, we kind of just went with the momentum of whatever scene, of whatever shot, or whatever was going on...
McCoy: We spent a lot of time by ourselves, really going through the
script, really hammering out every tiny detail, so by the time we get to
the set, there is only one thing to say...
Streeter: Right. One plan...
McCoy: ...for each whatever it is, we had everything...
Davis: Everything was completely storyboarded and scripted. There was
really no ad-libs or improvisations in the film at all.
Streeter: We got all the arguing out up front. Basically.
iW (To Mark Hankey, Producer) : Did you have a role on set?
Mark Hankey: My role on set was really just to show up and ...
Davis: ...make everyone feel good that he was there.
Hankey: Look around, make sure no disasters were happening, but no
disaster ever was.
Streeter: Bring the checks, bring the guns, bring the money.
Hankey: Everybody was happy to see me because they knew there was money
iW: What was the intention behind setting it in that one, little apartment?
Streeter: Heightening the kind of claustrophobic environment that
McCoy: ...pushing them together.
Streeter: Right. You know, there's a lot to do with sheltering
themselves from the outside world, living in denial, and it's exactly
what we were going for.
McCoy: And it made it easy to get it done.
iW: Can you talk about the stylistic use of color?
Streeter: We kind of had a noir approach to the black and white,
strong, lot of contrast.
McCoy: And old-fashioned.
Streeter: Right, and old-fashioned. And the dialogue really reflects
that. There's really this kind of starch strength, dark feeling...
Streeter: The color really reflects what's going on in the scenes. And
as it changes their mood changes.
Davis: They're kind of out of reality. Reality is black and white.
Color is when they're high.
McCoy: When they're escaping, we go to color. When they're really
stuck in the world, they're in black and white.
Streeter: We kind of took it, there's really no straight color shots.
They're hued white, or hued red or orange or pink.
McCoy: Even the "real" what you call color realism, it's not. It's
Streeter: To us the black and white has a lot of newspaper, documentation
feel. So, our black and white is real.
iW: What about the famous "blunt" cam?
Streeter: We really wanted to show that when they're smoking "blunts,"
that that's the focus of their world. They're in that moment, they're
high, it's all about getting high. The blunt's perspective is their
Davis: Tunnel vision. It's very true. For society as well. For young
black males, so that's kind of the intention.
iW: The black on black destructive relationship is what the film is about,
it seems. Do you think it's cynical, too cynical?
Streeter: I think that usually it's gangster-fied films or Hollywood
gangster films where you get this "cheering the bad guy to kill someone
else." That's really not the stance we wanted to take. We wanted to
take more of the stance that this is why it's really fucked up. No kid
gloves. This is what we're thinking. This is ...
Davis: ...what's happening.
Streeter: Right. This is what's happening.
McCoy: And if it makes you feel that, that means we've succeeded,
because it's supposed to incite discussion about this whole issue.
That's really want we wanted to do. And you know, you can't walk away
whistling, "Next show's on, what's going on next?" We wanted to make a
movie where you want to think about it for days and days and talk about