• Armiel Chandler

Culture Spotlight Featuring Saquan Jones


Saquan Jones was born and raised in New York City and is the writer and director of the films: The Next Step, Love Isn't Enough, And There Were 4, The Founders' Keeper, 10 Minutes, and the documentary Regular Scheduled Programming. The Weight of the World is Jones' first novel. Jones has an undergraduate degree in History and Political Science and a graduate degree in Finance. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.


Tell us about your experience at Hip Hop Film Festival?

I think the Hip Hop Festival was one of the best experiences I have ever had at a festival since my films have been accepted to festivals. Most people will read that answer and be like, "Well what are you supposed to say?" and I agree. But, what makes the HHFF different is the hands-on experience you receive from the staff and the festival coordinator. I made it my point to stay in contact with CR Caper, but her energy was amazing. She really does care about the success of the films and people associated with the films and it really shows how the festival is promoted and administered. After my screening for most festivals, I normally never go back to the festival because the passion of the festivals is lost once the film screens, but I did not feel this way with the HHFF. I went back to see the other films and that was sole because of the energy at the festival. I wanted to be around it.

What projects are you working on now?

I just finished writing and directing a comedy called The Next Step. This project is dear to me because I stopped all my other writing to complete this film due to my writing turning too dark. Before I started this film, I was internalizing every inch of my environment and I found myself being mad, scared, aggressive, and less empathic and all those feelings were being expressed in my writing. I realized that I needed more love...friendship...friends...and laughter in my life. Not that I did have those in my life, but I need to touch it and connect with it. The script was only 40 pages, but the movie is over an hour and a half because I let the cast (which consisted of ALL friends) just have their way. The improv...laughter...togetherness reminded me of what I should be seeing and embracing. We are now in post-production for the project and it should be released at the end of October 2020.

Why are stories from the culture important?

To answer that question you have to break down the idea of culture. There are tons of stories with minority cultures (specifically Black culture) being told; that is not the problem. The problem is; most stories about our culture are not being told by people from our culture. For example, Black Lighting has little to no Black lead writers for the TV show. 2018's Superfly movie was written by an Asian man named Alex Tse. I am not saying people of other races cannot tell stories about other races; as a writer, I attempt to do it all the time, but we need stories that do not glorify sex, negative music, drugs or violence and most of the stories being told about Black culture encompass at least one of those elements. For the most part and outside of 90% of Tyler Perry movies, if a person of color is writing a story from the culture; he/she will take care of the culture because he/she knows how important imagery in the eyes of 'others' is important to the bigger picture.

What projects are you working on now?

I just finished writing and directing a comedy called The Next Step. This project is dear to me because I stopped all my other writing to complete this film due to my writing turning too dark. Before I started this film, I was internalizing every inch of my environment and I found myself being mad, scared, aggressive, and less empathic and all those feelings were being expressed in my writing. I realized that I needed more love...friendship...friends...and laughter in my life. Not that I did have those in my life, but I need to touch it and connect with it. The script was only 40 pages, but the movie is over an hour and a half because I let the cast (which consisted of ALL friends) just have their way. The improv...laughter...togetherness reminded me of what I should be seeing and embracing. We are now in post-production for the project and it should be released at the end of October 2020.

Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival is important? Short answer??? Because it's B-L-A-C-K!!! If you do a search of Black-owned screening housing in NYC you can count them on one hand. To have a structure where I can connect with people who look like me is so important. The HHFF adds to just being Black though...with a Black woman heading it I am double proud. Every time I am in the presence of CR Caper I am in awe of her magic and energy. Just to see her promoting on 1010 WINS or Hot 97 is empowering!




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