Seven Questions with Tayo Amos

Tayo Amos is the director of Magnolia Bloom. The film is set in 1950s Las Vegas where a black singer is denied her first headlining performance when the venue refuses to admit black patrons.

1. Who are your film influencers?

I admire the careers of filmmakers like Ava DuVernay and Nia DeCosta who have continued to expand what’s possible as a black woman director. I distinctly remember reading the news my senior year of college that Ava DuVernay won the Best Director award at Sundance, the first Black woman director to do so. And Nia DeCosta just made news as the first Black woman to have a #1 movie at the box office. They are continually breaking glass ceilings, which continues to inspire me to continue to hone my craft.

I also admire the styles of filmmakers like Alfonso Cuarón, Jean-Marc Vallée, Deniz Ergüven and Denis Villeneuve who are able to combine the viscerality of life with the deeply personal with their kinetic, cinema verite, and immersive style of filmmaking. Their films is what I return to whenever I need to be inspired in my own work.

2. What are the toughest aspects of making a film today?

Transitioning between all the different stages of making a film and maintaining the vision of the story throughout. There’s a saying that you make three different movies: one with the script, one in production, and one in post-production.

It feels like the transition from production to post-production especially can feel like you’re trying to hit a bullseye with your eyes closed. You can prep down to the last detail, choreograph every shot, but, when you go into the edit, it is always a challenge to put the pieces together. Fortunately, you’re able to find that story in the end but the process of getting there through all the different stages is very challenging. But I’ve found that, by doing the right emotional prep with the story and doing my due diligence in bringing on a crew (especially an editor when it comes to post-production) that can see and follow through on the vision we initially set out to execute.

3. Best advice you’ve received as a filmmaker?

To live an interesting life and follow your curiosities. The tools of filmmaking will always grow and evolve but what is unique and most important is your point of view as a storyteller.

4. What does it mean to you to be a Black filmmaker?

Growing up as a young Nigerian-American girl, I was acutely aware that the media I was consuming was not made for me so, whenever I did see someone who looked like me, it really resonated with me. As I grew in my career as a filmmaker, it’s always been a priority to showcase diverse characters. I also feel a huge sense of responsibility as a filmmaker from a minority background to tell stories that affect change or have a social impact component. Whenever I did see someone who looked like me, it really resonated with me. Junot Díaz said, “It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” I’m a filmmaker so I can create more mirrors, for marginalized groups but especially women of color.

5. What does it mean to you that your film is on Aspire TV and other platforms?

It means a great deal to have platforms where a wider audience can experience your work. It also means a lot that companies are investing in the stories of deserving, emerging talent.

6. Advice you would give the next gen following you?

No one‘s path is the same. Don’t feel like you have to follow a certain path or protocol. Follow your instincts. Also, it’s ok to pivot or quit if you feel too burned out or exhausted – self care as a human and artist is key.

7.Are there any inspirational films, articles or books that you would recommend to go deeper into the topics and themes in your film?

Below are some articles: