Filmmaker Vernard S. Fields of the Black Cincinnati Cinema Collective recently released his horror short film Jumper Guy, which one “Best Screamplay” at the 2021 Cincinnati Fright Film Competition. Midwest BSFA talked to him about the film, his favorite films and filmmakers, and his path to filmmaking.
Midwest BSFA: What were your favorite films growing up and why?
Fields: Some of my favorite films growing up are some ’80s classics such as Gremlins, Explorer, Flight of the Navigator, The Fly, Willow, Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, and The Princess Bride. These films are some of my favorites because they gave me a feeling of wonder that struck my imagination. There was a sense of magic that left me asking the question, “How did they do that?” Seeing these films among many others gave me the desire to create stories and films.
Midwest BSFA: How did you get into filmmaking?
Fields: At the age of 11 with the church video department, I learned how to set up equipment and take commands from producers during eight years of working in that department. By the time I left, I was able to produce church services on my own.
Midwest BSFA: Was there a turning point for you where you decided this was what you wanted to do as a career?
Fields: It wasn’t until the DSLR camera came around with video recording options I was able to get back into filmmaking. I realized at that time I had a better chance of making a living producing video content for others over using the graphic design degree I earned in college. I was able to continue teaching myself filmmaking by way of watching countless hours of YouTube video tutorials.
Midwest BSFA: Who are your favorite filmmakers?
Fields: Some of my favorite filmmakers (in no particular order) are Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, and Quentin Tarantino.
Midwest BSFA: What made you gravitate toward film and not other mediums to tell your stories?
Fields: The thing that made me gravitate towards film over other mediums is having the ability to get people to collectively experience a single vision. It’s not left to the viewer’s imagination but now analyzing my portrayal of a story.
Midwest BSFA: How did you come up with the premise for Jumper Guy?
Fields: Jumper Guy came to me in a single wave of inspiration from my love of urban legends. It was created for a Cincinnati-based horror film competition called Fright Film Competition so it had some guidelines I had to adhere to. One of those guidelines was having to have the use of jumper cables in the movie. So I really wanted the jumper cables to have a major part of the film instead of it being a simple prop. I’m also really into plot twists so with my film things aren’t always what they seem even when it comes to the protagonist. I want people to somehow sympathize with the opposing characters and sides of the story. It really makes for a memorable experience and hopefully leaves the audience thinking.
Midwest BSFA: What are your favorite kinds of films to make?
Fields: I like making comedies because it’s a chance for me to let people into my whacky way of thinking and viewing the world around me. Yes, people are going to laugh but at the same time, I hope they’re left with a different perspective of society and the people around them. I don’t consider myself to be into romance but I have a couple of romance movies up my sleeves. One of them is a dark comedy and the other is a dramedy. So I guess comedy is going to find its way into my films. Even my horror movies like Jumper Guy have a bit of comedy in them.
Midwest BSFA: What has filmmaking taught you about life?
Fields: Filmmaking has taught me that you have to always be quick to make adjustments. It’s the same thing in life. We have to be quick to make adjustments because things are going to go wrong like it sometimes does during the filmmaking process. And when things go wrong we don’t panic but take a deep breath and figure out a way to move forward and quickly.
Midwest BSFA: What advice do you have for young Black and brown filmmakers?
Fields: Network with everyone. Find the people who are making films you wish to create and communicate with them, ask them out for coffee and pick their minds, get on as many sets as possible. And if you can’t do any of that then create those atmospheres yourself. Your outcome and power are in your hands today.
Find out more about the Black Cincinnati Cinema Collective’s work at www.b3conline.org.