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Deadline: 6th August 2019
Hello everyone, it’s time to reveal who the director being featured for July for Director’s Chair will be and this month will serve as a tribute to John Singleton.
Singleton’s film debut came about when, whilst applying for film school, he had to write down some ideas he had for films. One of those ideas was called Summer of 84, based on his life and people he knew, along with being influenced by Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me. Over the years, this evolved into Boyz n the Hood, a script which Singleton became very protective of, which got greenlit by Columbia to replicate the feel of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. With casting the film, some of it was based on previous experience Singleton had with the actors (casting Ice Cube after Singleton met him whilst he worked on The Arsenio Hall Show and Laurence Fishburne after Singleton met him working on Pee Wee’s Playhouse), whilst Cuba Gooding Jr and Morris Chestnut were cast as they were the first to audition. The film was shot in sequence and Singleton’s skill as a director grew as shooting went on. The film was a critical and commercial success, kickstarting the film careers of Cuba Gooding Jr, Nia Long, Angela Bassett, Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut and the cultural impact of the film is still felt to this day. The film also earned Singleton a nomination for Best Director at the Oscars, Singleton being both the youngest director nominated for the award and being the first black director to be nominated.
Singleton’s next films, Poetic Justice and Higher Learning also had a socially conscious feel to them, but were not received as positively as Boyz n the Hood. His next major critical success was Rosewood, covering the 1923 Rosewood Massacre, with Singleton wanting to make the film to deal with, in his opinion, the roots of American racism. However, whilst the film was a critical success, it was not a commercial success.
Singleton’s next commercial success came with Shaft, serving as both a remake and sequel to the original Shaft, following Shaft with another coming of age film, Baby Boy (which served as the film debut of Taraji P Henson and Tyrese Gibson). Singleton continued his work in the action realm after Shaft directing the second instalment in the Fast and the Furious series, 2 Fast 2 Furious, joining the film based on his love of the first film. Whilst the film was not critically successful, it was commercially successful and it has been called the most underrated film in the series (especially since most people think the series started hitting its stride with Fast Five).
Singleton’s final two films were Four Brothers and Abduction. Four Brothers was a return to action which received mixed reviews and was moderately successful at the box office whilst Abduction was kind of an entry into the YA action genre, capitalising on the box office draw of Taylor Lautner following the Twilight series. The film was a critical disaster, receiving a 4% score on Rotten Tomatoes, although the action scenes were praised, and it was, like Four Brothers, moderately successful at the box office.
Following Abduction, Singleton’s last directorial credits were for TV, directing episodes of Empire, Rebel, Billions and Snowfall (alongside executive producing Snowfall and Rebel). He also directed an episode of American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson, with Singleton being nominated for an Emmy for his work on the episode.
As usual, I’m looking for any features you have on the films of Singleton. If you need a reminder of his films, I’ve listed them below.
- Boyz n the Hood
- Poetic Justice
- Higher Learning
- Shaft (2000)
- Baby Boy
- 2 Fast 2 Furious
- Four Brothers
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to reading what you send me.