Ryan Culver makes his groundbreaking debut as a director, writer, and producer for the upcoming film, The Education of a Negro. In the movie, Kenny’s world shatters when his brother, Kirk, is killed by a police officer under questionable circumstances. Culver skillfully masters his creative vision, bringing an emotionally charged and haunting depiction of social injustice in today’s racial climate to life. Personal conviction and creative storytelling combine to create what promises to be an unforgettable cinematic experience. In a thought-provoking conversation with QG, he shares his views on the justice system, realism in storytelling, and the art of filmmaking.
What inspired you to become a director?
Voice. I wanted to offer an authentic voice on the spate of police killings. One that didn’t have a Hollywood happy ending because none of these end like that for us in reality.
Did you have a mentor growing up?
My father overall, but as far as film… no, I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t get into film until after the Philando Castile not guilty verdict which came in the back-half of 2017.
How has the art of filmmaking changed your life?
It definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing I created this piece of art that people are enjoying and that I was able to do it with such a high-quality cast and crew on my first time up to bat.
What is the creative vision that you’d like to share with the world?
I wanted an authentic look at the impact police killings have on black families. When I looked around at what Hollywood was putting out on this topic, it was good, but what bothered me was that everything had a happy ending.
As an art form, how does filmmaking inspire and influence the world?
Visual art, including TV and, film are by far the most influential types of an art form. They tell you with pictures what to think and do and how to feel and act. The remaining art forms are powerful but not even close to the visual medium. When you add great storytelling to that mix, then you have something that can truly inspire, influence, and encourage people en masse.
What do you enjoy most about being a director? Also, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
The creativity and the vision you’re able to control and influence directly. I was a first-time director, so the not knowing part was a bit frustrating. I had ZERO film background and had never been on a film set.
What inspired you to create The Education of a Negro?
The Philando Castile not guilty verdict. I thought it was a bad verdict, and I wanted to tell the world how I felt. That combined with the FBI’s report on white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement.
What message do you hope to convey to audiences who watch your film?
Stop letting people tell you what to think or feel.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
The very first time I saw my film on the big screen. There was nothing like it.
What can fans expect from you in the near future?
Well, I’m working to try and bring The Education of a Negro to major markets so that everyone can experience this work in the theater with others. That’s the immediate plan for now. After that, who knows!
This film industry rookie is worth keeping an eye on as he continues to grow as a creator and presents more films to Hollywood in the future. Netflix is just the beginning for Culver!
Check out the trailer below.