Vernon F. Clarke: College Professor by Day and Filmmaker by Night!
KG: What made you want to get into filmmaking?
VC: Before I got into making films, I started in still photography, which I did for several years throughout my college career. As I entered my senior year of undergrad at Fordham University, I realized I wanted to take my photography to the next level. So I then attended graduate school at Brooklyn College to study Film and TV Production. So that is how I got started in the business.
KG: Did you have any reservations about it? If so, what?
VC: Well, you always tell the stories about how any job in the arts or the media is hard to find, and it could be a more stable career. But you have to put those doubts aside, pursue your path, and realize that everybody's path is different and unique.
KG: When it comes to films, you can have an agent to shop your film around or go the independent route. What made you take the indie approach?
VC: When initially getting into the industry, reaching an agent can be tricky until you have a track record, so you must use your resources and network to make things happen. Down the line, I may get an agent if it will help get specific projects done, and it is beneficial to both parties, so we'll see.
KG: Tell us about the current film you are working on and when it will be completed.
VC: I'm in preproduction for the next project, Sugar Life, which we will start production on in the fall. This film looks at the complicated and often tangled relationships between Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies and the dynamics involved in them.
KG: What goes into your decision-making when selecting scripts?
VC: The story and whether it's doable or not. The story is critical because it must be engaging and exciting, with twists and turns, etc. But the story must be possible also. It can't need a $50 million budget to get it done either, lol!
KG: When it comes to films, who are you influenced by?
VC: I've been influenced by many filmmakers for various reasons, but if I had to single one out, it would have to be Spike Lee. When he came into the industry, it was tough for African American filmmakers, but he helped change the game for a generation of filmmakers after him without a doubt.
KG: How easy was it to transition from books to film?
VC: I've never written an entire book –meaning I've written articles, short stories, etc. - but I understand the complexities in converting the written art form into the visual art form. As a filmmaker, you have to take 300 pages or more and condense it into a 90-120 minute film without losing the story's integrity, which can be challenging!
KG: Which is more accessible, writing a script or a novel?
VC: Both present unique challenges, but a hand has to explain the story as it unfolds and visually connect the audience, or else it doesn't work.
KG: With the popularity of digital streaming services such as Tubi, how has it helped your filmmaking career?
VC: Let me first say that my most recent film, The Love Coach, is currently streaming on Tubi, and it features Ashanti Harris, who is an emerging star to look out for! Yes, providing more distribution outlets has helped me, as well as other filmmakers, to have their films seen and be able to develop an audience for them.
KG: What don't people know about filmmaking?
VC: You need to genuinely love it because it's less glamorous than it seems. Long days on the set in all types of weather and locations, lousy craft service (food) at times, constant budget limitations, etc., can make you second guess why you chose this career to begin with…lol! But seriously, as I tell my students at Clark Atlanta University/CAU, where I also teach, it is crucial to understand that this is a business. It is essential to develop the skills needed to be successful in it.
VC: My social media links are IG @vern_film and @thelovecoachmovie