Interview with Filmmaker Julia C. Liu (DRIVING WHILE BLACK MAGIC)

DRIVING WHILE BLACK MAGIC played to rave reviews at the January 2021 Filmmakers Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I met the story creator, Vatic Tayari Kuumba through a mutual friend at an art show in Providence, RI where we live. He is a visionary playwright, and I was looking for a story to develop into a film. We quickly discovered we are both interested in making weird art from an anti-racist lens.His writing is so vivid, it jumps out as something that should be on screen. We teamed up to develop one of his plays into a short film, creating a cinematic experience that drops the viewer into the universe of Providence Plantations, an alternate near future similar to our own. Folks who live outside of RI may not know our official state name was the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” up until November 2020, when we voted to drop the Plantations part. Very long overdue.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

One year from start to finish, with a long six month pause in between.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

subversive surrealism

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Figuring out when to trust my instincts, when to listen to others, and when to take a break and come back tomorrow is still something I’m learning.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

The feedback was very thoughtful and specific. I felt like the audience members watched the film closely, and one person even watched it more than once! That is probably one of the best compliments you can get as a filmmaker- when someone finishes watching and then watches it again right after.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea was based on the first scene of a play written by Vatic Tayari Kuumba, who was my collaborator on this film.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I had Little Shop of Horrors on VHS when I was a kid and have probably watched that over a hundred times. As an adult you realize how disturbing it is, but I think I would still find it entertaining. The songs are great.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It was very easy and streamlined to submit through FilmFreeway.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I don’t have a good answer for this and I feel like people are going to be super judgemental about it no matter what. So I’ll just say in the last year, I’ve listened to Tierra Whack’s song “Unemployment” a bunch. The music video is amazing.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m a Director but also work as a Director of Photography. I’m DPing a short sizzle for a comedy series next week for a director that I really like.

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