Young Film Maker Jalen Coleman’s Film Debut
As a young Black man growing up in South Central (Los Angeles), Calif. Jalen Coleman began writing short stories as an outlet due to his dangerous neighborhood his mom would not allow him to explore. Now 22, Coleman has his first movie premiering June 13th titled “Ashes”.
When did you first get into film directing?
“I first got into Film Directing the beginning of High School. I started writing short stories in elementary. But the beginning of High School is when Film directing really took off for me.”
How did your upbringing in a bad neighborhood help drive your passion for filmmaking?
“Second Grade I started writing short stories. My mom didn’t let me go out and play much due to the rough neighborhood we lived in. I started watching movies such as Grease and Terminator II. My love for movies grew from that.”
How does film making help you connect with your purpose in life?
“I think my purpose through Film Making is to make the world a better place. If I make a film it can be a comedy, and if there is some moment in it that someone relates, rather if it’s a character or something they’re going through and or went through that can help them then [I’ve done my job].”
Who are your role models?
“A non-film one because I think he deserves a lot of credit; I’m inspired by a lot of people in general but one of them is J. Cole. He is my favorite rapper. I feel we are similar in some aspects. I’m inspired at the moment by Ryan Coogler, the Director that has done Fruitvale Station, Creed and is doing the upcoming Black Panther Film. Steven Spielberg, even though that is a cliché answer.”
“I’m inspired by all of them for very different reasons. For J. cole if you first listen to his music he doesn’t know who he is. He hasn’t found himself necessarily yet. When he got to his second album Born Sinner he started realizing there were more important things in life than cars, jewelry and wealth. I found myself to be similar to J. cole because, I try to think there is more to life than materialistic things. Ryan Coogler because he was one of the few whose energy that is genuine.
Steven Spielberg, it is arguable but I think he is the greatest film maker. All of his movies are a definition of what a movie should be.”
Tell us about the movie you have coming out in June?
“Ashes it’s about a retired hero Scorch. He’s disappeared, the world is looking for him. Some feel people think he went missing. Some people think he went into hiding. In reality he has just given up. He got sick of saving people and is losing faith in them as well. In face of giving up he has settled in this little apartment. He befriends this little girl next door in his apartment complex. He finds out she’s living in this domestic abuse home. Once Scorch finds out he wants to help her but he doesn’t want to give up his identity.”
When is the release date?
“The premire date is June 13th at the Downtown Theatre.”
Where did the inspiration come from?
“I wrote the script when I had left this really dark place in my life. I started questioning a lot of things like my purpose and people. I’m a big nerd. I’m a big fan of superheroes. My favorite aspect of superhero movies is when they show the grounded part of the Hero, like the personal things they have to go through. So I imagined would it be like a Superhero to go through this.”
What as the process behind the film?
“It was a fairly normal process. Which means it was difficult. We started shooting the beginning of January. While we were shooting, we raising money through a GoFundMe. The goal was 3,000 but I just put 2,000. I thought I was get about 300 or 400 which I was fine with. We reached 300/400 and I was happy with that. People continued to donate, which I was very thankful for. We reached 2000 was very surprising which helped out a lot. There were small little problems on set. The Cameraman car got stolen the second day of shooting. Almost lost one of the actors. It was the main little girl in the movie. For months we wouldn’t get in contact with her or her mom. I wasn’t sure what I should do. We got back in contact with them.”
What is your next project you’re working on?
“I’m working on a book. I’ve never written a book before. The goal is to write a book and then turn it into a film.”
What are the challenges as a young man of Color do you face in the industry?
“It’s getting better but it’s not a lot of our stories being told. It’s very selective it’s like this one show or one movie. In my experience if I meet an African American, Producer, Writer and I get their information to have a conversation about things it generally never happens which is sad. I think we should look out for each other. I think we should uplift one another and that isn’t happening in our community.”
What have been some obstacles you’ve faced in the 8 Years you’ve been doing this?
“Just staying out here in the 8 years. It’s not a tradition path necessary.”
What are some tips for any young man or woman coming up in the industry?
“One of the things about our generation is we have access to social media. We can make movies on an iPhone, on a cheap camera. Start watching a lot of movies. Start writing you’ve notice that a movie derived from another movie.”
Is there anybody in the industry you would love to work with on a future project?
“Michael B Jordan, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Angela Bassett. Collaborative with J. cole or Ryan Coogler on something.”
What has been your biggest accomplishment with your films?
“The thing that assures me besides the interviews I’ve done with top people in the industry such as Tyler Perry, Spike Lee etc, if I make a film that has a message to it and someone responds to and says they went through something similar and the film helped that assures me.”