On Saturday June 19, 2021 actress and now director Sanaa Lathan interviewed writer/producer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood for the Tribeca Film Festival’s Talk Series. The women discussed Love & Basketball, the film that catapulted their careers and decades long friendship, as well as the importance of representation both in front and behind the scenes.
Here are the key takeaways from Gina Prince-Bythewood’s interview:
Love & Basketball was created in response to the lack of films surrounding Black love. Bythewood wanted to create her version of When Harry Met Sally. The first story you tell should be a personal one. Lathan’s character Monica in Love & Basketball is heavily based on Bythewood and her love for sports, a love that made her feel different and out of place.
A director’s job is to create a safe working environment for their actors.
A safe space ensures the best performances.
Directors and actors need to trust each other. Bythewood told the story of lying to Alfre Woodard who played Camille Wright in Love & Basketball. After a not so stellar performance while filming a scene Woodard asked for feedback. Though Bythewood lied, Woodard knew she had not given her best performance, which led to brief distrust and a lifelong lesson. In addition to trust there needs to be mutual respect between artists. After completing filming Bythewood asked Lathan for feedback. She wanted to know if there was anything she could learn and take away from the experience. 92% of films made, are made from the male point of view. Though there has been some change since her debut there is still a long way to go. Bythewood believes that it is her responsibility to open the door for other Black women and does so through her scholarship. Filmmakers should have their own vision. Following trends lead to in authentic films. The story always comes first.
Written by : Ashley Williams
Shot by: John Uzafe