"Hudlin is a modern-day Gordon Parks, a true monster in the game that totally re-did the blueprint: what some people used to call a renaissance man. I dig him because he made me think outside of the box. Hudlin writes and directs movies, pens a comic book, and he was running BET. That’s multi-tasking for your ass." - Cultural critic Jimi Izrael
The resume of the Oscar-nominated producer, Reginald Hudlin, reads like a who’s who list of Hollywood. He has worked with the best in black Hollywood, and the best in mainstream Hollywood. He is one of the major visionaries of the modern black film movement. He began his career creating movies like HOUSEPARTY, BEBE’S KIDS, and BOOMERANG.
He produced Quentin Tarantino’s latest film DJANGO UNCHAINED, starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Don Johnson. The film has won two Golden Globe awards, has been nominated for five Oscars, and it is on track to be the top grossing Western of all time.
On Monday night, Shadow and Act caught up with Mr. Hudlin right before he gave the keynote address at the 2013 Pan African Arts and Film Festival. He spoke very briefly to us about the highlight of his Oscar season journey, his partnership with RZA, whether he'll direct again, his thoughts on the state of black Hollywood, and a little more.
Shadow and Act: Congrats on your Oscar nomination! Can you tell us about one highlight from your Oscar journey so far? It’s all so exciting.
Reginald Hudlin: Thank you. It’s been surreal. I was at the annual Oscar nomination luncheon the other day and there is a moment during the program where everyone nominated is called to stand up in front of everyone. When my name was called, I realized that Robert De Niro was standing behind me, Helen Hunt was on my other side, and Steven Spielberg was right beside her. It felt amazing to be among a group of people of that caliber.
Shadow and Act: What more can you tell us about your new partnership with RZA in terms of what brought you two together, as well as what else we can expect from the partnership in terms of projects you're working on, or considering, and if there's a timeline for when you want to start pushing films out?
Reggie Hudlin: RZA and I have been friends for a long time. We both have the wonderful experience of working with Quentin Tarentino. RZA is a guy that is very encouraging and giving to other filmmakers. He’s just that kind of spirit. And that’s nothing that you see with everybody. We always love the same things, Kung Fu movies, and a Black Nationalist side to us. We always wanted to kind of work together, and we asked ourselves aren’t we doing that? There’s one project and were putting together the cast, and were working on some other projects in development.
Shadow and Act: Will you direct again?
Reggie Hudlin: Absolutely! There are no projects that I can talk about yet.
Shadow and Act: - Talk about the positive and not-so positive changes you've witnessed in Black cinema over the years, since you and your brother came on the scene with the successful House Party movies, through today, 20 years later.
Reginald Hudlin: There was a period that black film had no chance of making it in Hollywood. So, people just made the made the statements that they wanted to make. Whether it was a science fiction film or whatever, b/c they were just making movie for themselves. Then there was a period where people were creating projects as their Hollywood audition ‘pieces’. I feel that today we are moving back to the era where we all have our own voices.
Shadow and Act: Are there any young filmmakers that you have your eye on?
Reginald Hudlin: Hadjii made a splash at Sundance a few years ago with the film, “Somebodies.” We actually gave him a scripted TV series at BET and it had incredible reviews. I believe that he is one of the many talented filmmakers to watch. Peter Ramsey was the storyboard artist on ‘Boomerang.’ He’s another one to watch.
Shadow and Act: There's been some talk about the current young generation of filmmakers not being aware of the work of their predecessors, and even not honoring and respecting them. As one of those who's been around for a bit, coming up during that late 1980s, early 1990s black cinema boom, a who made some iconic black films, any thoughts on that?
Reginald Hudlin: Young filmmakers are supposed to be the young turks that advance the current state of filmmaking ideas. At the same time, if you don’t know your film history or knowledge, then you are not in the game.
Shadow & Act: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
Reginald Hudlin: I just produced the 2013 NAACP Image Awards, which garnered really high ratings. I have several projects in development for TV and film.
The ongoing Pan African Film Festival is taking place at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, and close its festivities on Sunday, with the closing night screening of Shola Lynch's Angela Davis documentary, FREE ANGELA & ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS.