After surviving New York City traffic, the director of the Oscar-nominated film “Selma,” Ava DuVernay, ran onto the Tribeca Film Festival stage at the School of Visual Arts to give her audience their full hour discussion on Wednesday. She soon waxed nostalgic with the talk's moderator, A Tribe Called Quest’s musician Q-Tip, about classic hip-hop, dealing with a studio for the first time on “Selma” and shared her tireless work ethic.
Here’s a few of the highlights from her Tribeca Talk:
1. Her First Immersion Into The Art Culture Was In College
DuVernay shared stories about her early days as a poet working in a health food store during the Golden Age of Hip-Hop at her alma mater, UCLA. “It was the first time I was living with art. Where I came up, nobody was really thinking about art in that way,” she told the crowd. She acknowledged the hip-hop influence drove her to make her first documentary in 2008, “This is the Life.”
2. Find Your Support Group
After making an intended pun about “finding your tribe” to Q-Tip, DuVernay told the crowd to “find the folks who are going to feed you and nourish you in creative ways.”
3. 'My Motto Is Stay Shooting'
When asked about the time between her movies, DuVernay admitted she’s still working. “Hashtag Stay Shooting,” she joked. “If I could tattoo it on myself, I would but mom said no more tattoos.” DuVernay said there hasn’t been a time since she started her career as a director that she hasn’t stopped shooting. “There may be a gap between films, but I’m doing a doc or I’m doing a commercial, a video. I’m constantly shooting.” She said she learned the work ethic from fellow director Spike Lee. “Twenty films in 20 years? Always be shooting. Stay working.”
4. It’s Never Too Late
“I made my first feature film when I was 38,” said DuVernay. She said her independent start outside of the industry helped her find supportive friends and avoid studio resistance. “Eventually, my interests intersected with the industry.”
5. DuVernay To Dive Into TV Next
“The goal is to find liberation in whatever you’re doing,” she said to the crowd. “TV is not what it used to be. TV is being seen as an auteurist medium.” DuVernay will debut a new series for OWN and announced she will be shooting this summer. She also told the crowd she would welcome the opportunity to create a story for a virtual reality experience.
6. On Her Experience On Working With A Studio For 'Selma.'
After some prodding from Q-Tip, DuVernay opened up about her first brush with the studio system. “It is interesting to work in a collaborative manner with people who might not be used to working in a collaborative manner.” DuVernay went on to explain, “I think they know what they’re talking about from their perspective, which is business. My perspective is from the creative side. Sometimes those two don’t mix.”