Gordon Parks once said, "The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed." This quote ties in perfectly with my interview with this week's guest director, Choice Skinner. A multi-faceted talent, Skinner first came to my attention with his short film Black Lighting Tobias Revenge. Mr. Skinner took some time from his busy schedule to chop it up with me about his new movie, A New Life.
1. Reviews & Dunn - What can you tell potential viewers about your new film?
Choice Skinner - A New Life is a letter of love to the Black community, Black Fathers, and Black men. It is a film created to entertain yet break the stereotype of Black Men being trifling and unloving. In this film, we display a different perspective of Black men. Their loss, their love, their passions, hopes, and dreams, as well as the mental anguish they endure. The most important thing to take away from the film is that Black people, in general, are a loving community and that Black men, like anyone else, are multi-faceted beings.
2. R&D - When did you realize you wanted to pursue a filmmaking career?
CS - I originally moved to Los Angeles from Georgia to pursue a music career during the 90s. I witnessed the fall of R&B during that era and eventually migrated over to stunts because of my martial arts background. My stunt instructor Art Camacho told me to "learn acting" as that would open the possibility of more stunt work. Instead, I eased out of stunts and got addicted to acting, which opened up more work for me in film and television. There wasn't much work for Black actors during the previous writers' strike in 2007. Writing, producing, and directing became necessary to flex my creativity as a Black creative. I decided to create some content. In 2011 I shot my first project, the Doritos Superbowl ad called MMA Monkey Attacks, a web series entitled "One Percent," and my first award-winning short film Brotherly Love.
3. R&D - Why did you decide to explore the subject matter covered in the film?
CS - I wrote the screenplay for A New Life back in 2023. I noticed that storylines about Black men were relegated to drug dealers, athletes, gang bangers, and players. There wasn't much content that showed Black men as loving, upstanding, and great fathers. I have always been protective of the black male's image in the media. A New Life allowed me to show a different perspective of Black Men contrary to what we were seeing in the news or the media.
4. R&D - In addition to filmmaking, you're big into martial arts. With an unlimited budget and resources, would you rather remake Three The Hard Way, Five Deadly Venoms, or do a biopic on Victor Moore?
CS - Oh wow!!! You made that a tough list of films to remake! You listed two of my favorite movies and a martial arts legend all in one paragraph! The Five Deadly Venom is a true classic that should NEVER be remade! I would consider if the budget was right. Otherwise, I wouldn't touch it! LOL. I would be on the set, lensing Three The Hard Way out of those choices. That's an experience that the Black community as a whole should witness in this day and age. The Black community needs to reclaim some sense of pride. Many ideas buzz in my mind on what I could do with that film. As a child, I remember such excitement and pride resonating off the screen to me and the audience when watching it. I'd eventually double back off the excitement of Three The Hard Way and do the biopic on Victor Moore. His story deserves to be known, and he should be honored for his contributions as a Black man in martial arts.
5. R&D - What advice can you offer to aspiring filmmakers?
CS - My advice to other aspiring filmmakers is to pursue excellence continuously. RAISE THE BAR!!!! Having no money shouldn't equate to low quality. I graduated from YouTube University. There is a plethora of knowledge on there for FREE. Work to learn all aspects of the filmmaker's experience, including the business's financial part. Make films that not only entertain but help to heal the community. So many filmmakers are creating damaging content and seeking fame instead of making a difference. Insight is something that is missing in most content and people nowadays.
6. R&D - Is there anything you want to add, and where can fans find you on social media?
CS- I hope people support this film with group viewings, pay-it-forward campaigns, great honest reviews, and mass shares. Many will be entertained and benefit from what the film is about, as well as the message that it promotes. You may find A New Life social media @anewlifefilm on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. I can be reached personally at @darkan2000 on Instagram, @darkanent on Twitter, and @ChoiceJSkinner on Facebook.