When I met with Carlton Daniel Jr at the Cam Kirk Photography Studio in Atlanta, we instantly clicked. Carlton is a soft-spoken guy with a large drive for creating content that hits home and sparks a conversation. I’m a huge lover of short films and movies with a message and that’s exactly what he gave me. We are sitting in a small room and talking about his newest film “HOMEGOING”.
Generational Wealth, Entrepreneurship, Grief, Sexuality, and Identity are all of the words that can describe HOMEGOING. I watched the film seven times (yes, I counted)and noticed something different every time. The film revolves around a young man who is in line of owning the family-run funeral home and mortuary that he is currently working at with his father, the owner. However, the son wants something more out of life. Something that he will enjoy rather than feel obligated towards. But, as the old folks say, doctors and morticians are two professions that will always be in demand.
The Cleveland-born and Los Angeles-based film director wanted to create something that would speak to generations of viewers. He wanted to address social and economic issues that face the Black community. When that happens, I know that someone else watching it once misses a lot of small details. When I tell Carlton that, he laughs and says, “Yeah, that’s what I want a viewer to do. Watch it and say, ‘wait a minute..’” (laughing).
Carlton is no “fly by night” film director. He holds an M.F.A. in Film and Dramatic Writing from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School under its College of Visual and Performing Arts. The Hollywood Reporter has ranked Syracuse University No. 16 on its 2020 list of Top 25 American Film Schools. So it’s safe to say, I see something special in his work.
One of the most powerful moments of this film has nothing to do with the storyline. Carlton was able to secure The late great hip-hop titan Tupac Shakur’s nephew, Malik Shakur, in his first film role as well as Tupac’s first movie castmate Khalil Kain. We all remembered the classic scenes between Khalil (Raheem) and Tupac (Bishop) in the coming of age film Juice. It was the first film for most of the cast and the film that put many of their names on the map. In a full-circle moment, this was Malik stepping into an arena, where his father, mentor, and guiding character would be the person who was a part of Tupac’s 1992 debut.
So we spoke with Carlton about his decision on this film, how he wanted to make sure certain messages were placed in the movie, and why he felt those were important. Ultimately, I want to know what he is looking to do with not only this film but every film that comes under his name.
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Check out more from Carlton at his website, https://www.carltondaniel.com/