Today’s Guest: Kevin Willmott, writer, director, star, Destination: Planet Negro; co-writer (with Spike Lee), Chi-Raq
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with Kevin Willmott by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience full of seriously confused white people who may – or may not – be 1/32nd Sioux… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
The movie is called Destination: Planet Negro and it is as twisted, smart and funny as the title implies.
KEVIN WILLMOTT podcast excerpt: “I know ‘Destination: Planet Negro’ was so crazy that I wasn’t even going to talk to people about funding it. I’m a professor at the University of Kansas; this is my seventh feature film. I used the equipment at KU, then I pulled in favors from all my buddies that were in my other movies. The budget for ‘Planet Negro’ was $5,000. Five-thousand dollars! Everybody worked for free. What I spent the $5,000 on was meals. The cinematographer is a professor I work with; he built the spaceship. The robot was built by another buddy.He built it from stuff he had lying around. It took two years to make the movie. And I play one of the leads because I knew I would always show up!”
Take a little Spike Lee, circa She’s Gotta Have It, stir in a pinch of the TV series “In Living Colour,” some Flash Gordon and Lone Ranger, an episode of “The Time Tunnel,” a few moments of inspiration from Bender on the animated “Futurama,” and yes, even a colorful chunk of The Wizard of Oz and you’ll find yourself on Planet Negro.
Kevin Willmott is the writer, director and star of Destination: Planet Negro. He also was co-writer on the Spike Lee joint Chi-Raq.
KEVIN WILLMOTT podcast excerpt: “I have a film called ‘CSA: Confederate States of America.’ It imagines what happens if the South won the Civil War. That’s how I met Spike Lee. He read a script called ‘Gotta Give It Up.’ That was 15 years ago. We tried to get is made a long time ago. He called me back”
In his new film, he combines moments of great social satire – hello, Strom Thurmond! – with serious political points about race and sexuality.
And it’s really, weirdly, funny, too.
Key interview moments:
• 6:10 Destination Planet Negro writer/director/star Kevin Willmott explains how he made his movie for just $5,000;
• 19:00 A lifelong fan of 1950s sci-fi films, Willmott always loved seeing astronauts in leather jackets;
• 27:00 Willmott talks about crossing paths with Spike Lee and how they came to co-write Chi-Raq.