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Interview: Terence Nance

One night after endlessly surfing the web, I’m stopped dead in my tracks by a piece of artwork so beautiful I needed to share it with the world. That particular piece was Terence Nance’s teaser for his debut feature film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. Nance’s film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, was recently selected to screen at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT this upcoming January. Nance so graciously agreed to interview with MissRiot.com and there is much to be said about such a talented soul.




Interview after the Jump


Name: Terence Nance
Age: 29
Location: Brooklyn, NY I moved from Paris to Brooklyn in 2009. I lived Paris for 2 years. 2007-2009

Occupation: Artist / Co-founder and Creative Director at Media MVMT a film production company (media.mvmt.com) and Embassy MVMT an artist development company (embassy.mvmt.com)

Media MVMT is a production company that makes films, music videos, and a web-series called MOCADA TV. MoCADA is the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, it’s in Brooklyn. We partnered with them to produce the series which profiles Artists, Cultural Organizations, and Businesses. The show aired locally in Brooklyn on BCAT and will be released on line in 2012.

We produce music videos as well (which I direct) for musicians: Pharoahe Monch, Blitz the Ambassador, L4 are a few we’ve worked with. 

Also produced music for television shows. In 2012 our we are moving into producing more long-form content.

Where are you from originally? Moved? Where have you lived?
Dallas, TX- Born and Raised, Boston- Undergrad and NYU for Grad School. Paris France for 2 years after school was finished.

How did you find yourself in the business of making films?
I came to it very late. When I went to undergrad, I was a visual art major. I still consider myself an artist and not necessarily a film maker. This (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) is my first feature film, I also make music (under the moniker Terence Etc) and work with other media. When I was in undergrad I went to South Africa for 9 months and I made a film called Exorcising Rejection and it was at that moment that I decided to work with cameras and editing in my work. (propelled into filmmaking as an extension of his artwork) The film was shot on a point and shoot camera and I impressed myself so that pushed me forward.

I first came across your work by watching the Teaser for your upcoming film. I’ve read that this film actually started off as a documentary of your own experience in dealing with love. What is the story behind that?
It was non-fiction but not documentary. I was re-enacting. It was my non-fiction. My truth. An incomplete truth.

I noticed you used Janelle Monae’s “57821” from the ArchAndroid album in teaser for An
Oversimplication of Her Beauty, Is Monae one of your favorite artists? Who are some of your favorite artists?
She is quite possibly my favorite artist. She inspires me generally as an artist to be unapologetically me and express myself from a place of confidence. She is at the Vangaurd of Black music (which by default places her at the vanguard of all music) and is truly pushing culture forward. Flying Lotus is dope, My Brothers Djore, Nelson, and Blitz the Ambassador are all musicians and are continually an inspiration to me. I really like Thundercats new album. King. Krystle Warren, Valerie June, Emily King, Michael Kiwanuka, Lianne La Havas. Son Lux, St. Vincent and The Stuyvesants thestuyvesants.com

What were your original intentions in making this film?
I started the film in school in 2006 and It was largely an impulse at first. I thought the film would be 5 minutes long I had no intentions or no how to make a feature film.  I had a lot of omni – directional creative energy at the time, I was making t-shirts, and walking around the city with spray paint stenciling the word FLY everywhere.  Around then I had what I thought was a complicated situation with a woman, that inspired me to write the film. So my original intentions probably amounted to some sort of need to consecrate or validate a dying romance.

But I took so long to make the film that I needed to formulate some new intentions to keep me going so. I was probably also attempting to depict an archetypal ambiguous romantic - ish relationship within the swarm. (people who are of color, culturally of color, in non-corporate occupational situation- for fulfillment as much as it is for compensation, not Goldman Sachs or Corporate Lawyers educated through college or found means to educate themselves, Not from the neighborhood but moved into it.)  

At the end of the day the movie is about how I felt about her. On some level I do feel the film was Goddess worship. It’s a prayer to her.

I read that you actually casted the person of your affection as herself in the film. How did that play out for you when she discovered the film was about her?
I can’t really tell you that because it’s in the film.

The teaser painted a fairly intense picture of the reality of love and relationships. Since producing this film, has your outlook on love and relationships changed? How?
Well at the time I had a very concrete moral compass, Now I’m back and forth on the practicality of ALWAYS doing the right thing (morally) for everyone involved, maybe sometimes you should just do you. I’ve never actually tried that in the way that I’m talking about (doing me) so maybe it’s just that the grass is greener on the other side.

Knowing what you know now, would you do anything different?
Oh god yes, before I was the person who followed a fair amount of the rules and now I still am that person but I’ve become very self aware about how much less fun I’m having, or maybe how different my fun is.


What do you want a viewer to take away from An Oversimplification of Her Beauty?
I wouldn’t say I have any concrete desires for how I would want an audience to experience the film other than I want them to feel like they have seen something new, a new style, a new voice etc.

It would be nice if people walked away with a self-awareness about their own romantic relationships and an ability to look at love in a positive way even if it didn’t work out with the person. The film is a lot about remembering emotions or cultivating your emotional memory.

hopefully people walk away by feeling empowered by having loved.

I really want people to see dope art with black people in it that will engage all of their senses.

What advice do you have for other artists of color?
The first thing is learn your craft to competency but learn your voice to mastery. There is not as many people in our community as you would think who are technically proficient at the technical skill of making films, I honestly feel for artists of color we really need to focus on learning the tools of the trade and understanding them in a way that facilitates their optimal use. Learn how to light, learn how to compose, how to do a match on action cut, how to do a breakdown and schedule, etc. etc. it’s just a matter of increasing your vocabulary, you will construct better sentences the more words you know. As people of color I don’t think we can afford to Woody Allen / Kevin Smith the game and focus on the non – technical aspects of filmmaking because we don’t have the privilege of having an endless amount of technicians at our disposal, as Writers / Directors of color we need to be auteurs with a whole understanding of the process from script to screen. It's important that we work as a community, we can't get anywhere if we are all working unconscious of each other's work and resources. I am a co-founder of a filmmakers collective called Cinema Stereo (cinemastereo.org) and we are attempting to do just that. Collectivize as a means of elevating all of our work to more visible platforms. 

That said.

Knowing how the camera works won’t get you far, once you are technically proficient you must posses your own entirely unique voice as an artist, and you must master that voice.


Second, make some art! Completing the work is often the most difficult thing. Additionally, you must complete work that firmly positions you as an artist with a voice as opposed to a technician making trivial entertainments or spectacles. We don’t live in a meritocracy in the world of media the person who arrives with the work first wins. I think a lot of great artists have a problem finishing things or finishing things consistently. Master your craft and voice through making art work and finishing a lot of it.  Be prolific, If you build it the people will come.  Not that I’m anyone to be making this challenge but I want to personally challenge anyone who is filmmaker to write and direct a feature film that is distinctly your voice, in the next 20 months. We can no longer say this is unrealistic. The next cultural frontier for people of color is filmmaking.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to have 3 feature films under my belt. I have 2 screenplays that I hope to produce in the next 5 years. Additionally I want to produce a theatre piece on the Swarm. I want to continue to make art. I want to have the access to resources to be able to produce any project that comes to mind in a reasonable amount of time.

Describe your ideal girl.
They are all described in the movie.

But I guess my Ideal person is just dope, what they are doing with their life, their time, their energy is dope. They are prolific, ambitious, giving, knowledgeable, curious. They probably smell like some combination of sandalwood, Egyptian musk, coco butter, coconut oil, and maybe some lavender. They are responsible, emotionally healthy, physically healthy, and mentally healthy, they value their time and spend it wisely, they are doing what they love. They’re an artist, athletic / active, open, they can dance, they can sing, they are autodidactic, they are unflappable, independent, confident, CONFIDENT, aggressive, communal, they are growing and invested in their continual growth, they are secure in their hue, they are competitive in a healthy way, maternal, disciplined, determined. They’re probably one of those people who post pictures of Solange, and animated Gifs of the Pyramids at Giza on their Tumblr, or they’re in one of the pictures those people post. They eat to live, They are witty, quick of the mind, quick of the tounge, opinionated, progressive (politically), well informed, spontaneous, cultured in the way I was, centered, loyal,

It also helps if they like me.


How can we find out more information about An Oversimplification of Her Beauty?

For now you can go thttp://oversimplification.mvmt.com/ 

We are still raising funds to complete post-production. You can visit oversimplification.mvmt.com/fundraising to donate

I'd like to extend a huge Thanks to Terence and his team at MVMT! I wish them all the best at Sundance!
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5 comments

  1. Absolutely dope, congrats for telling this nuanced story about love!

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  2. PART OF THIS INTERVIEW LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE AN INTERVIEW HE DID ON ANOTHER WEBSITE NOT TO LONG AGO...HMMM???

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  3. Probably looks exactly like that interview because I cross-posted this interview on another website "....HMMMM????"

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  4. This interview is perfection and he is beautiful.

    -Kirstie

    ReplyDelete
  5. For the first time ever, Percept pictures plans to bring out a film that will have no title but only a symbol: Found Footage

    ReplyDelete

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