One-On-One with Hollywood T
Indie director Terrell Perkins talks to Joonbug about his artistic journey and making it in the film industry.

 

Artist and director, Terrell “Hollywood T” Perkins has made a name for himself within the NYC indie film scene with a repertoire of works  that includes the autobiographical DEEBERRY Remember Me, Platinum, and detective thriller The Bench (Currently filming its second season). Perkins, born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, spent most of his childhood painting and drawing despite being born with a phalangeal handicap. His styles and subjects vary though his most prominent works which caricaturize urban typecasts and are rendered using the pointillism techniques of the renown impressionist, Georges-Pierre Seurat.

 

As far as his sketching talent is concerned, it has earned him a number of accolades along with the opportunity to storyboard Mike A. Pinckney’s  feature film Your Nobody ‘ til Somebody Kills You, executively produced by the legendary Spike Lee. Perkins' transition into film began as a mission to get his work in front of larger audiences. With his early career in animation,  Perkins’ ingenuity led him into story-boarding his own movies while recruiting a cast of aspiring actors and filmakers to help bring them to life. His early works employ an unconventional directorial style that uses no script. This requires him to be incredibly hands-on and in tune with his actor's/actress' strengths and weaknesses. He meticulously walks cast and crew through each scene, story-board in hand, focusing everyone on the emotion he wants to depict while allowing a natural improvisational element to seep through to each scene. The end result is gritty, uninhibited and truly captivating. Joonbug had the opportunity to sit down with the Brooklyn director for a little more insight into his artistic journey and directorial techniques.

 What are your earliest memories creating art? My earliest memories, please believe me, was at three years old. I was given a pad and pencil by my  mother’s friend Mrs. Brown who saw my scribbling on a paper and said I had a gift from God. Because of the deformity to both my hands drawing seemed impossible, however I thrived at it early on. Holding that pencil had me creating all the time, I’ve never let go.

Terrell Perkins Original

 

How did living and growing up in Brooklyn influence your work? How much of a role did your surroundings play in your decision to make a career out of your artistic talents?  I grew up in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn in the late 70’s thru the 80’s in the midst of the crack epidemic, gang violence and without a father. Growing up I was abused mentally and physically so I decided to use my talents, my gift, as an outlet to escape my surroundings. Art comes natural to me and I wanted to do nothing else but draw and create for the rest of my life.

 What is the relationship between your works as a painter, animator, and director? Is there an underlying message, what is the overall dialogue of your body of work? In my creations is a message of healing, happiness, love, faith and redemption. All my works focus on spiritual growth. It’s because of a higher power that I am here. The dialogue is truth, life, and helping others use their pain and misfortunes as motivation to heal and inspiration to help others.

Your first documentary “DeeBerry Remember Me” was screened at the 207th street art gallery. Talk a little bit about your expectations for the film and its general reception. My expectation in creating “DeeBerry Remember Me” was to convey a message of redemption, healing, forgiveness, family, friendship, love and faith. I truly received it and more from the response of the audience. It was also a sad moment because I had also lost my father that day. It’s still hard for me to speak of that screening and to even watch that documentary.

Perkins with director Mike A. Pickney
Talk about your transition from mainly drawing and painting to directing film.In the late 90’s my love for film grew but I just wanted to be a storyboard illustrator though I couldn’t find a director to work with so through my frustration I carved a new path and started wearing the director’s hat. I promised myself and Christ that I would create films and give opportunities to others looking to break into the film industry.

You storyboarded “You’re Nobody til Somebody Kills You”, a film written and directed by Michael A. Pinckney and executive produced by Spike Lee. Describe the experience. What are some of the tensions that arose while producing this indie? Did you meet Spike Lee, what was he like? Well I was officially introduced to Michael “Boogie” Pinckney by his nephew who I grew up with in Brooklyn. Pinckney immediately informed me the ride would be fast paced and detailed—speed and my illustrating skills would get me the job. Upon my hire I was responsible for illustrating a whole feature film: actors, locations, props, costumes and everything in-between. I didn’t get the opportunity to really get to know Spike Lee though it was through his approve that I got hired. Overall working on a Hip-Hop thriller “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Kills You” was a great experience. It was my first paid project as storyboard illustrator and my work relationship with “Boogie” continues to this day.  Working in film is a struggle, though here I am twelve years later directing and creating opportunities for others.