Photo Credit: Jamie Rhodes
Shakespeare once wrote: “Be true to thyself.” Jamie Rhodes encompasses just that. Jamie Rhodes is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, director, producer, and father. He is known for countless different projects through various mediums, including his sociological-supernatural-thriller novel Prey Messiah, his supernatural-horror short film Sebastian’s Pen, his engaging stage play Tom Cat, and his terrifying film project Night of the Unspeakable found on Amazon Prime.
Check out my interview with Jamie Rhodes where he discusses being a creator, his upcoming project The Night of the Unthinkable, coming back to the diverse media industry and more below.
BTTV: Where do you find inspiration for your books & films? Are there other pieces you admire?
I think I’m just a storyteller at heart. I like to tell stories that are different or at least tell them in a unique manner. Hopefully, folks will find my style to be provocative, yet amusing.I don’t have one particular favorite novelist, but I do have a few that have inspired me. I like Charles Dickens and Zora Neale Hurston. Both create stories about people coming into their own as they discover themselves and their self-worth. I’m also a fan of J.R.R. Tolkein and his ability to capture your imagination. As for filmmakers, my all time favorites that continue to amaze me are Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee, their ability to create dialogue is incredible.
BTTV: It seems like you wear several hats –novelist, playwright, screenwriter, director, and producer. If you could only choose one to continue doing forever which role would you take on?
This is an easy one for me because I see myself first and foremost as a writer. I love play writing because in that medium I can squarely take on social and political issues and the energy from a live crowd is euphoric. I really enjoy screenwriting and telling a visual story that can engage and transcend an audience. Everything begins with a story and that story must be written.
BTTV: Now about your film, Night of the Unspeakable. It seems pretty intense to say the least. How did you come up with the idea for this particular film?
This film project reintroduced me to film making and we found a home for it on Amazon Prime. I love hip hop music and horror films so I just merged the two together. I think the Night of the Unspeakable shows that the blending of genres can really kick things off to reach a larger scale.
BTTV: What should the audience expect from a film like this? Should they expect the same “unspeakable” moments in your upcoming film The Night of the Unthinkable?
This upcoming project creates a mythical African based priestess sisterhood that is intriguing and exacting. Night of the Unthinkable is much different in that it has a lot more action sequences and it features a group of women in the lead action roles. Plus it will be very diverse, in casting in terms including actors from Nollywood, Hollywood, Afro-Caribbean and Asian cinema. It’s like Fast and the Furious meets the Evil Dead 2.
BTTV: Why do you consider this upcoming movie a must see?
I think many of my stories have interesting twists and turns and that there is diversity in my work. The characters in my works have depth; they are conflicted and complicated like the rest of us. The stories are grounded in humanity but still resonate with those who simply want to be entertained. I also think the African diaspora female-dominated cast will blow people away. Society is constantly changing and so we must strive to be more inclusive. It’s about time for women of African ancestry to be on center stage since, unfortunately, they are often neglected or marginalized by the history written by men.
BTTV: What does this upcoming film project mean to you?
Night of the Unthinkable, for me it would represent a breakthrough for doing cinema on a larger scale and it will also provide a different type of platform for the African diaspora actresses to be showcased. It will be like opening the door for more Pam Grier type of casting from her early starring work in Blaxploitation films.
BTTV: What do you feel is your greatest achievement developing this project? Greatest roadblock?
The biggest achievement developing this project is the idea and casting behind it. Again, the cast is going to be diverse and hopefully this movie, along with Night of the Unspeakable, can be a part of a project even greater. The greatest roadblock for me, like the vast majority of other filmmakers, is funding. Making a movie is the biggest and most collaborative art form there is so if I can achieve the film’s budget I believe we can give the paying audience their money’s worth.
BTTV: What advice would you give someone who wants to step into the media industry, especially in the genres you work with?
Tell your story in a way in which you would want that story to be told or relayed to you. Be persistent, believe in yourself and love what you do. Do not let others dictate what success means to you in the industry.I love writing for the stage and for the screen and in general. I will always be a writer regardless of my monetary and or media success. If I end my days writing for community theater and doing a short film here and there then so be it. It’s cool because it’s in me and I love doing it.
BTTV: What is next for Jamie Rhodes?
Currently, my stage play Tom Cat will be performed in Indianapolis in November. It’s back by popular demand. I’m still in the development stage for Night of the Unthinkable and I’m in the process of writing another screenplay that is a low concept horror movie that I plan to shoot locally in Indianapolis.
BTTV: I want to leave off on a high note. I noticed that your projects have a lot of afrofuturistic and social themes. If you could use your platform to send one message to the world what would that be?
First of all, I want to say Every human being deserves to be afforded a certain basic level of dignity and respect and to live in peace with the ability to pursue happiness however they may define it. As an African American, I would add that the peoples descended from enslaved Africans and for those who are directly from Africa should be treated fairly, equally and justly and that our rights should be respected and protected in the U.S.A. and around the globe. We’ve earned it and deserve it.