Time To Self-Direct
Hall was very moved when he read the script made by using filmmaking guide, and begged Lemmons to show it to other people. She listened, and gave "Eve's Bayou" to her literary agent, Frank Willager, who was very instrumental in getting the film produced. I was very curious as to how a young Black woman who had just completed her first full-length screenplay was also fortunate enough to direct her own work. Lemmons and her producer Caldecot "Cotty" Chubb originally sought well-known actors who were interested in directing their first film.
"Somewhere in there," the director explains, as she takes a sip of white wine, "I woke up one day and said, 'you know what, if we're going to go for a first-time director, I went to film school, I wrote the script. Why shouldn't I direct it?'"
This concept was met with some opposition. "It wasn't the kind opposition like, 'No, we don't want you to direct.' It was opposition to the project, being a kind of offbeat project story, an all African-American cast, a low-budget film..." I have to agree. "Eve's Bayou" is not your typical "Black movie." "I felt the need for folklore in African-American movies," Lemmons says. "You see a lot of gritty realism, and I thought hell, we invented folklore. Why can't I write a magical story, you know? Other people do it. I wanted to write a magical story, and in that way kind of couch and surround a painful story that I was trying to tell."
One of the reasons that Lemmons hopes the film will do well is that it will open doors for other African-American women in Hollywood. "I think it's good for filmmakers coming up behind me," she said. As for future projects, she and her husband are writing the script for the upcoming film "Impersonator," which Hall will direct. However, Lemmons does not feel the need to rush into her next project. "It's very exhausting making a movie," she concedes. 'It's very exhausting, it takes a long time, it takes a lot of people's cooperation. It's a wonderful, wonderful job. It's incredibly gratifying, but it's very difficult. I don't
feel that I'm the kind of person who needs to make a movie a year to feel gratified. I look at it more like a symphony, so this is my first symphony." "Eve's Bayou" opens in area theaters on November 7.
What I do not envision, however, is a very young, pretty, fair-skinned African-American woman, with bright blonde dreadlocks. Surprisingly, that is who I encountered when I met Kasi Lemmons, first-time director and writer of "Eve's Bayou," the dynamic new film which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Lynn Whitfield.
Settling in a cozy corner of Warmdaddy's, I had a chance to ask the rising cinematic star about her life, her career, and her new film. As an African-American female writer with my own directorial aspirations, I was especially interested in what she had to say. I felt an immediate bond of sisterhood with the young director, who was losing her voice, and obviously not feeling well. Even so, she was extremely gracious, and very excited about what is happening in her life right now. "Besides having my child, this is the thing in life that I have done that I am the most thrilled with," she said.