Tag Archives: Bill Withers

Mens’s Q+A with Filmmaker Damani Baker

Posted by Kay

I first came across Damani via his girlfriend Cameron’s instagram. I’d worked with Cameron a couple of times-who aside from launching a ‘participatory media project’ magazine called ‘Interrupt’, having a Ted Talk and going on CNN, just happens to be a top fashion model. I very much admired how she uses her profile to raise awareness of socio-political issues including climate change, so I asked her to do our thandiekay Q+A, see it here.
Whilst checking out Damani’s instagram, I saw a picture he posted of his mother with Angela Davies in the 70’s in light of a film he was making called ‘The House on Coco Road’ and thought, who better to sit in the hot seat (haha) of the ThandieKay Men’s Q+A?

1. Do you remember the first time you found someone ‘beautiful’? The-Wiz-1975-Broadway-Musical-001-296x446-1

Yes, my dance teacher in Kindergarten Evelyn Thomas who was tall, she shaved her head and she was the “Tornado” in the original production of The Wiz in 1978.

2. How important is physical beauty important to you and why?

I’ve been a filmmaker for 20 years and beauty is one of the ways I get an audience to respect, connect or admire a subject on screen. That said I find traditional expectations of beauty to be oppressive.Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 14.37.50

When I think of my career I actually find the people I’ve captured most beautifully have been elders and men of color.  My ideas of beauty have deepened and changed, as I’ve gotten older.

As a young 16-year-old boy who loved movies it was easy to get caught up in the spectacle of fame and who we consider beautiful. At some point the curtain is pulled back and when you recognize the millions of dollars behind creating images that we’re fed and feeds a short-term appetite.

Beauty for me becomes more about a cultural connection to humanity.

3. What do you find beautiful about your mother?

The word beautiful almost seems under cut her journey as an activist, change-making, educator.

Damani's mother in forefront

Damani’s mother in forefront

4. What do you find beautiful about women as an adult?

Damani

Damani and his son

Now that I’m an adult I find my son to be the most beautiful creature in the world.

5. Have women’s looks become more or less important in our society?

Society has the potential to value more than external beauty; unfortunately we seem stuck in nurturing destructive and divisive behavior including the objectification of women. The beauty that we have forgotten to recognize is nature.

6. If you had a daughter who did not possess what society perceives as beauty and felt insecure about this, what would you say to her?

I’d say that sadly, the world is broken, not you.

7. If your you had a daughter that attracted unwarranted attention from men, what advice would you give to her?

I’d try to equip her with the confidence and knowledge of how to respond and read many different scenarios.

8. From a male perspective, what has changed the most since your mother was a girl?

8. From a male perspective, what has changed the most since your mother was a girl?

The Internet.

9. Does the media represent women in a way that you see them? If not, how?

No, I think the media represents the media and the companies that own the images we consume, we need to create and support independent non-mainstream media if we want to see women and ourselves differently.

Right now I am completing a feature documentary and to purchase archival material from major networks, the licensing fees can run from $90 to $120 a second. What’s particularly vicious about this is that the networks have the recourses to send the crews, be the first on the scene, capture the most lasting material and then, get this…sell it back to you. It’s a cycle that makes it incredibly hard to compete and puts our stories in the hands of corporations.

Representation starts with the ability to own our images and support narratives that are new and transformative.

Damani 800

 

See all of the wonderful films Damani has previously made including ‘Still Bill’ on Bill Withers on his website damanibaker.com

On instagram, and on Twitter

THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD (PREVIEW) from Damani Baker on Vimeo.

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