Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Key & Peele' Will End After Its Current Season 'Key & Peele' Will End After Its Current Season MSNBC Decides: Touré Is Out, Rev. Al Stays (For Now) MSNBC Decides: Touré Is Out, Rev. Al Stays (For Now) Disney Channel & Disney XD Casting Directors Holding Online Casting Call for Diverse Actors, Age 10-17 Disney Channel & Disney XD Casting Directors Holding Online Casting Call for Diverse Actors, Age 10-17 Revisiting Spike Lee's Perplexing 'She Hate Me' on Its 11th Anniversary Revisiting Spike Lee's Perplexing 'She Hate Me' on Its 11th Anniversary Oprah Winfrey Presents Landmark 7-Night Event Series 'Belief' Premiering October 18 (Trailer) Oprah Winfrey Presents Landmark 7-Night Event Series 'Belief' Premiering October 18 (Trailer) Watch 5 Clips From TV One Original Movie 'Runaway Island' - Premieres This Saturday, July 25 Watch 5 Clips From TV One Original Movie 'Runaway Island' - Premieres This Saturday, July 25 Samira Wiley to Co-Star in Film Based on Kitty Genovese 1964 Murder Samira Wiley to Co-Star in Film Based on Kitty Genovese 1964 Murder MTV Has Made Its 'White People' Documentary Available Online - Watch It Here MTV Has Made Its 'White People' Documentary Available Online - Watch It Here MSNBC Is Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place with Rev. Al (Demote Him or Let Him Go?) MSNBC Is Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place with Rev. Al (Demote Him or Let Him Go?) LeBron James Inks "Unprecedented Agreement" with Warner Bros. Spanning Film, TV, Digital LeBron James Inks "Unprecedented Agreement" with Warner Bros. Spanning Film, TV, Digital "New Money, New Power" in 'Empire' Season 2 First Look Video Promo "New Money, New Power" in 'Empire' Season 2 First Look Video Promo Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Will World Premiere as the Closing Night Film at the 53rd New York Film Festival Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Will World Premiere as the Closing Night Film at the 53rd New York Film Festival What TV Critics Are Saying about MTV's 'White People' Documentary + Watch 3 Clips What TV Critics Are Saying about MTV's 'White People' Documentary + Watch 3 Clips Check Out the Official Theatrical Trailer for Stanley Nelson’s 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' Check Out the Official Theatrical Trailer for Stanley Nelson’s 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Barry Jenkins Talks Turning Down Multi-Million Dollar Studio Gigs To Work On Pet Projects

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 21, 2011 at 2:10AM

I just read this wonderful, informative 6-page write-up on one of our favorite young, up-and-coming black directors, Mr Barry Jenkins (Medicine For Melancholy) in the Miami New Times Arts section on their website.
6

I just read this wonderful, informative 6-page write-up on one of our favorite young, up-and-coming black directors, Mr Barry Jenkins (Medicine For Melancholy) in the Miami New Times Arts section on their website.

We've featured just about all of Barry's work, since his feature film debut in 2008, and I've interviewed twice in the last 2 years; we will be interviewing him again shortly, mostly inspired by his recent film, a short for the ITVS Futurestates series, titled Remigration, and another short title, Chlorophyl, which will debut at the the BORSCHT Film Festival in Miami, FL this weekend. Stephanie is handling the interview duties this time around, so look forward to that.

The Miami New Times piece answers several questions about Barry and his career that I think you'll find interesting and revealing. I certainly did. From how much money IFC paid him for the rights to distribute his revered first feature (Medicine For Melancholy), to the offers he received after the critical success of that film, and what he's currently working on. There's even a Tyler Perry reference in there :)

Summarily, the article reveals Barry's age-old artist's dilemma - the broadly-defined struggle between art and commerce that many of you I'm sure are intimately familiar with.

Here are the highlights:

First - IFC paid "almost $100,000" for the rights to Medicine For Melancholy, which he used to pay back his producers and the musicians whose songs were used in the film.

Second - Post Medicine For Melancholy, he did receive offers to direct - but, they were to direct scripts written by others; he preferred to direct his own work. He was also offered money to direct "more mainstream "black" films like those of Tyler Perry." See... told you there was a TP reference.

Third - Although, he'd like to keep his soul, he's finding it increasingly difficult to do so in this climate, especially when he has bills to pay, and he's having second thoughts about turning down the 6-figure salary director-for-hire gigs he has been offered; For example, last month he rejected an offer to direct a $10 million "feel-good, music-related film for one of Hollywood's biggest studios" that would have paid him a tidy $250,000, choosing to instead make smaller, more personal projects like the above-mentioned 2 short films. Ouch! Yeah, I'd be tempted too. You've got strong will there Barry, especially when you've got bills stacking up. Although now I'm really dying to know what that "feel-good, music-related" movie is/was. Hmm... I'll have to dig into my memory banks to remember what recently announced projects would fit that description. Any guesses folks?

Fourth - Barry adds, "Jesus Christ... I do think about the money sometimes. Not just turning down the project but turning down a job that lucrative. I'm seen as an independent, artsy-fartsy director right now. But I feel guilty about it. Who am I to turn down an opportunity like that when my mom, sister, brother could use that money?"

Fifth - As for what he has signed on for... Barry will direct one of four parts of the upcoming adaptation of the graphic novel, A Contract With God - a project we talked about previously, on the old S&A site. Also, he's working on what sounds like a biographical film with Focus Features, which he refuses to discuss because "the subject of the film is still alive." I'm really curious as to who this person would be. He did say that the film, if it moves ahead with Focus Features, would be budgeted in the many millions, and would pay him $250,000! Go Barry!

And lastly - the article says that Disney is wooing him "with a big contract," and he's considering it; BUT, in his words, "The problem is, once you get pigeon-holed, it's hard to get out. Disney movies are PG max, the characters are limited, and they can't do certain things they would in real life... But it's a lot of money."

So, there ya go! Like I said, interesting and revealing. Good to know that he IS at least getting offers, and isn't sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring. They may not be the offers he desires, but, it's nice to be wanted, and I certainly hope he finds the right fit and balance that would satisfy him.

I'm now even more excited about our upcoming interview with him :)

You can read the full Miami New Times piece HERE.


Shadow & ActNewsletter