According to Wayne Huizenga, “Some people dream of success, while other people wake up every day and make it happen” and this quote properly applies to one talented individual, Geno Brooks. Born and raised in Chicago, Brooks is a man of many talents—director, producer, writer, and actor. Some of his projects include the critically acclaimed Black Boots and Freefall. With his star on the rise, Brooks created Artistic Standard TV, a network and home to his projects. The network features award winning projects like The Therapist and new web series & short films, such as Back Door Santa and Off The Track.
Check out my interview with Geno Brooks where he chooses his favorite project to film, what advice he would give to aspiring talent, what’s next for him, and more below.
1-When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in directing/producing/writing/acting?
I discovered at a young age that the arts and a creative space would be the direction of my life. In grammar school, I would write short stories and the interactions I received from teachers and peers led me to pursue more. By high school, I was writing poetry and began to get in front of audiences via stage plays and drama class.
I also grew up watching a local Christian drama called “The Awakenings” about teenagers growing up in the heart of Chicago. Once I finished undergrad and grad school, I booked a movie while on a visit in LA and from there I honed in on increasing my skills through classes and workshops. Living in LA provides/inspires one to create, nowadays-content creation is necessary. So, I decided to get back to writing which eventfully led me to tell the stories I saw absent of the mainstream or that me or friends weren’t being called in for. So, then it was just a matter of time before I brought those stories to life with visuals through directing and producing. I find myself interconnected to these different elements of storytelling revealing a 360 effect—I am a 360 Filmmaker.
2-Who is your favorite actor and/or director?
My favorite actor is Robert DeNiro and my favorite director is Martin Scorsese slightly edging out Spike Lee.
3-Projects like Black Boots, Freefall, and The Therapist have garnered so much critical acclaim. Why do you believe these projects kept viewers coming back for every new episode?
Black Boots is an authentic view of the HBCU college experience and not just Greek Life; although it gives you an insider’s perspective. I believe the audience comes back to watch the show because they can relate to their college experience and for others, it answers questions they’ve been dying to ask about the process. From BB, our casts members are excelling and I couldn’t be more elated for their hard work paying off: Courtney Burrell(Tyler Perry’s Too Close to Home), Michelle Mitchenor (Fox’s Lethal Weapon), Myles Grier(The Fosters, Game of Silence), and Mike Strong(Vivica’s Black Magic).
Freefall is groundbreaking because it appropriates the street lifestyle from an LGBT perspective, which the cast and producers are extremely proud of.
As for The Therapist, we developed the characters in a manner that allowed the audience to connect with them. Cast members from TT are working hard as well: Isaac Keys(Jurassic World, Get Shorty) and KJ Smith(Queen Sugar, Being Mary Jane).
4-One of your recent projects is Back Door Santa. How did that come about?
Back Door Santa is a seasonal mini-series created for a comedic slant on unconventional entrepreneurship.
5-What can fans expect from the rest of Back Door Santa?
The series is produced for seasonal holidays, i.e. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.
6-Another recent project of yours is Off the Track with Tanedra Howard. What can fans expect?
With Off the Track, fans can expect to discover a gritty exposition of the oldest profession in the world—it’s tainted with misconceptions but these four women knowingly take on the perils of being on and off the track, revealing the motives behind their off putting choices. Plus OTT is a platform for Howard to demonstrate her ardent acting talent.
7-Out of all your projects, which was your favorite to film? Why?
Black Boots was my personal favorite to film. BB was dope because we had six weeks of rehearsals that actually mimicked the pledging process. My method of having them on “line” produced the most genuine and authentic experience in the acting. And visually it was ahead of its time, now the style has been adopted by lot of indie filmmakers. I strategically used minimal lighting so when you see lighting it means something to the scene, mood, or something specific to the characters in that scene.
8-What is your dream film to make?
My dream film would be the Donny Hathaway biopic. It may not be sexy but I’m an artist and everything I write has a piece of my story weaved into it. My mother loves Hath…I would love to direct Idris Elba but I would also appreciate the opportunity to cast a new face. I take pride in breaking or exposing the world to new talent. I feel that it’s almost my responsibility as a director to not only get the best out of the story but also my cast. So, that’s why it’s equally as important to break new talent.
9-What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in the filmmaking and/or acting world?
I advise future filmmakers to build a like-minded team around you who can support one another in their acquired skill set by pulling those resources together. Secondly, produce, produce, produce but do not release the work until you are sure that you will be proud of that work five years from now. Lastly, have the undying will and drive that it takes to reach your heights. Don’t be afraid to out dream your circumstances, live every moment chase every dream.
10-What is NEXT for Geno Brooks?
Next for me, I’m looking forward to being staffed on a TV show as a writer. My goal is to get a development deal from a forward thinking network who believes in my vision. However, until then, I’m in the lab writing new shows, building my brand(the Artistic Standard) out further, including my clothing line and finalizing my summer arts program for inner-city youth.
Photo Credit: Geno Brooks