John Singleton: ‘A Lot of Black Filmmakers Half-Ass the S–t’

By Sameer Rao Jul 13, 2015

When John Singleton set out to make "Boyz n the Hood" 24 years ago, he did it with the express intent of making it a black film. At the American Black Film Festival in New York, where "Boyz n the Hood" was screened by Turner Classic Movies, the Oscar-nominated director spoke with The Root about the film’s genesis, what he sees as a lot of black filmmakers not putting in 100 percent, and just why Ricky got shot. The whole interview is worth a read, but here are some choice quotes: 

…Filmmakers who want to make a good movie are so concerned with what other people think about what they are making that they are not concerned with making the best culturally astute film. When I do a movie like this, I’m trying to make it culturally specific to black people, and I feel that if I do that it becomes universal. I feel a lot of black filmmakers half-ass the s–t. I don’t care what nobody says; I talk about this and I write about [it] in the trade papers because we have so many stories which haven’t been told, and not many opportunities to tell them, that I feel very, very strongly about black people telling our stories. I don’t give a f–k what nobody says.

I was happy for myself [because of his Oscar nominations for writing and directing], but I was upset because I felt we should have receive[d] a nomination for best picture and Ice Cube should have received one for best supporting actor. I told Cube that if you had cried on that porch, if you had just cried on that porch before you told that bitch to get the f–k out of your face, you would have gotten an Oscar. But he made the right decision as an actor because he did just enough. He didn’t overdo it. You can tell he was emotional and he had all this stuff pent up, but he didn’t let it out. A lot of people are like that, and in retrospect, Cube made the right decision.

We shot in the neighborhood, the crew was about 97 percent black and the kids who played the young characters all lived around there. My permanent office is right across the street from where we cast the film. I’m the only one in Hollywood to have an office off of Crenshaw. 

Ricky had to go because he was the black American dream.

Read the full interview over at The Root