How was it working with Jairus Burks on directing season 2? Where does your role and his role differ?
Working with Jairus was phenomenal! He is an extremely talented DOP (Director Of Photography) and Editor. Our roles differ in the aspect that I am the creator and show-runner, so the storytelling aspect and making sure that the plot comes together to suit my vision is what I’m most focused on. Jairus’s main focus is making sure that he takes my vision and makes it visually appealing. Jairus spends a lot of time making sure that certain shots and scenes adhere to a cinematic continuity, in this way the season establishes an ocular identity.
Season 2 touches on character development within the cast and deeper storylines, which story did you have the most fun writing?
I had fun writing it all! Even during season 1, I couldn’t wait to get to season 2 because, as many creators will tell you, the first season is the “set up” season. You have to establish the characters, their world, and what it is that that they are striving for. With all of that now established, season 2 can go deeper into what really makes these characters three dimensional. Each episode has a scene that I’ve literally been BURSTING to write since season 1 finished.
How did you come about scouting the scene locations for season 2?
In Atlanta, location scouting is thankfully pretty easy. I knew that I wanted to showcase more of Atlanta and make the city truly the seventh main character of the series, so the plan was always to shoot more scenes outside and within some of the city landmarks. For specific scenes that take place indoors, the key is to write utilizing what you already have in mind. We shot some scenes at my best friend’s house (Thanks to Steve!) we shot some scenes at my Mother’s place. We shot scenes at a local church. Use who you know!
For those who don’t know, what typically goes on behind the scenes when producing Blue Collar Hustle?
There’s so much that goes into producing a web series, especially an independent one. There is pre-production which involves me writing the scripts, setting up rehearsals, getting location timing down, and setting up a shot list. It usually takes about 3 days to shoot an episode, then you have post-production where myself and Jairus basically spend 2 weeks on Skype Calls from 8pm-1am going through footage, editing, and piecing together an episode. Once that’s finished Jairus color corrects and then we add music and sound effects. Jairus will complete a rough draft and send it to me for viewing. We have a pretty good rapport to the point that his rough drafts are pretty much 90% what ends up as the finished product.
What differences have you noticed in Season 2’s reception than season 1? What did you do differently?
Season 1 was experimental for everyone involved as it was pretty much the first project me and the team, including stars/producers Shani Hawes, Howard Woodburn, Roberto Cruz, and Quentin Williams had attempted. Season 2 we were all much more confident in our abilities due to the success of season 1. After season 1 got such a warm reception, we knew we wanted season 2 to be better in every way. The first thing I wanted to make sure of is that we had a strong launch partner. One who believed in, not only my vision but in the potential for Web Series in general to tell unique and powerful stories. Seeka.TV is the biggest platform right now for original digital content, so partnering with them and their brand was a no-brainer. Donald Glover has FX. Issa Rae has HBO. I have Seeka.TV!
During Season 1, you’re credited as screenwriter and producer, this time around what motivated you to step into a director role this season?
It was simply a natural evolution for me as a creative. To make sure the vision is realized as much as possible from the moment I start writing to the second the camera starts filming. Directing affords me a greater level of control of how the narrative is shaped. In season 1 I did a lot of assistant directing, I was there for every scene and made sure that it matched how I’d written it in the script. This season I wanted to make sure that the performances themselves reached a new level of expression and authenticity. It was a big challenge but it was fun!
Can new audiences expect to see Blue Collar Hustle distributed or syndicated on different networks and platforms?
There have been discussions however at this time I do not have anything to announce on that front! I am very happy with Seeka.TV and the support they have shown me, our team, and the series.
As a black director and filmmaker, what message would you like for people of color to grasp from Blue Collar Hustle?
First and foremost I would like them to know that the show is FOR them. I want all audiences of every creed and color to enjoy the show, but it is made specifically for black audiences who do not, in 2018, see themselves portrayed accurately in mainstream media. I want the black audience to know that I love them, respect their experiences, and want to make them proud.