Statement of Interest Film Independent’s Project: Involve Candidate: Mason Richards

It’s always been my dream to be a Film Director. However, growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I never knew how to actualize that dream. It always seemed unattainable. However, throughout my life, I’ve never given up. I’ve worked tremendously hard, educated myself, and developed the necessary skills to pursue my passion. One of the most important accomplishments that I’ve made in the past year is earning my Master of Fine Arts in Film Directing from California Institute of the Arts. While studying the craft of filmmaking at Cal Arts, I had the opportunity not only to develop a cinematic style and language, but also to write and direct several narrative short films including my thesis, THE SEAWALL, which excitingly will have its world premiere at the 2011 Festival de Cannes in the Short Film Corner. In making THE SEAWALL, I returned to my home country, Guyana, South America to tell a story from a personal perspective and work with nonactors in the community. I’m mostly proud of this film because it presents images and a glimpse into the lives of a Guyanese family, rarely ever seen. Being a Director takes talent, hard work, patience and intuition. Throughout my life, I’ve had to overcome many obstacles, both personally and professionally, which, I believe, informs my work, the stories I like to tell, and the stories that I’m drawn to. My interest in the arts started when I was a teen growing up in BedStuy Brooklyn. As an escape from my sometimes violent and tremulous neighborhood, I sought refuge in the arts. At 15, I was the youngest member of The CityKids Repertory, a professional theater company focused on arts-education. At CityKids, we workshopped, staged and performed theatrical pieces around diversity, education, race, gender, sexuality and other issues effecting young people. I was able develop my creative voice through performance, theatrical workshops, and writing. In CityKids, I also had the amazing opportunity to work with some great actors including Dule Hill, Donald Faison, Lisa Nicole Carson, Malik Yoba, Isaiah Washington, and directors like Dianne Houston, Laurie Carlos and Jamal Joseph. I continued my passion for theater and the arts while attending Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate in Nashville Tennessee. During my freshman year at Vanderbilt, I directed my first full-length theater production, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide

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When the Rainbow is Enuf.” The production was the first AfricanAmerican theater production in the university’s history and was wellreceived by the university and local press. Directing this play, I discovered the challenge of working with actors, complex text and pulling it all together. The play had an all-female cast of color and dealt with the struggles of women across racial lines. As a male director, I had to rise to the occasion. I threw myself into understanding and exploring not only the experiences of women and the actresses, but also the life and world of the characters. I drew on my acting background and my natural sensitivity, which I believe is essential for a director, especially in dealing with tough subject matters in storytelling. To me, diversity in the film industry is the ability to step outside of one’s own experience and convey the journey of another. Diversity is also the ability to interpret and bring one’s own unique experiences and perspective to tell a collective truth. I wish to continue on this journey of creative storytelling in the world of film as a Director. I believe that having a mentor will be integral to my further development as a Director. With that, I welcome the opportunity to be apart of Film Independent’s Project: Involve. Thank you for your consideration. Mason Richards

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