The Detroit Windsor International Film Festival is take place June 20 - 24.
Visit DWIFF.org to sign up to volunteer, support, receive updates
or see the schedule when it's listed.
Introducing a new newsletter feature, Filmmaker Showcase, highlighting the careers of some of winning filmmakers before and after the DWIFF. This weeks filmmaker is Joe Doughrity, Detroit Native Filmmaker who won best Detroit-Windsor Comedy for his feature "Cornerstore" in 2011 at the DWIFF.
Seven Questions with Joe Doughrity.. 2012 DWIFF Award Winner
Joe Doughrity ("Joe D") is an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer known for his creative and insightful treatment of multi-cultural issues. After high school, Joe moved to California to attend film school and worked as Assistant to Oscar-nominated director John Singleton. Signed by Creative Artists Agency, he wrote feature and television scripts for a variety of Hollywood studios and production companies.
His premiere film, "Seven Days in Japan", won Best Doc at the San Diego Comicon Intl Film Festival in 2005, quickly followed by another comedy short "Akira's Hip Hop Shop" that won the Directors' Guild of America student award for Best Director premiering on BET in December of 2009 as a finalist in BET's Lens of Talent short film showcase.
His most recent project, the critically acclaimed feature film "CornerStore" was selected by AMC for its prestigious AMC Independent program.Awarded "Best Comedy" honors at the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival. After playing for 7 weeks on 2 theaters in Detroit during the summer of 2011, the film was held over in the Atlanta market after a successful January 2012 debut. Variety Magazine ranked "CornerStore" the number two independent film in the country based on per screen averages. "CornerStore" is a deliciously offbeat comedy, at the same time this visually striking film subtly highlights both the tensions and the bonds amongst the multi-cultural residents of Detroit's Six Mile Road.
DWIFF: Joe, What inspired, How, When, Where did you become interested in filmmaking?
Joe D: "Star Wars", like a lot of kids of my generation, was the tipping point. I remember going to see "Grease", "Jaws" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" at the Northwest theater on Grand River as a kid. That evolved into a love of movies in general. From war films to cartoons and later anime. I used to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see Akira Kurosawa films after learning that he influenced George Lucas."
DWIFF: How was your experience of four walling your first feature film and appearing in Variety Magazine....
Joe D: "It was the realization of a dream... to shoot a film in my hometown
and then make it available on the big screen. A lot of things had to many of
them did. It was a great experience and only wets my appetite to do it again and on a grander scale. I learned a lot and accomplished something not a lot of people do. I went to film school with people from all over the world. Some wealthy and some poor and most of them, 80% or maybe more, never made a film of any kind and I've made a few that have been successful to varying degrees. So getting a feature out there made in the D about Detroit was very gratifying."
DWIFF: How did you promote your films for four walling
Joe D:I mainly used the internet and social media. To reach film fans, friends and family, all of whom are online. We also had a small budget for radio and TV ads during some of Detroit's most popular shows like Judge Mathis and 106 & Park. But first of all make a good film. One with high production values. I can't stress that enough! I meet filmmakers in Detroit who work harder on their opening credits and logo for their company than they do their actual film. Study the craft and make a good film. Then prove it's good by putting it into festivals and winning some awards to create a buzz around it. After that you can approach independent theaters or some of the national chains with proof that you have a film capable of attracting an audience.
DWIFF: What was your first film? (including high school films)
Joe D: "My first films were actually videos as a child of the 80's. My mother bought me a Sony 8mm video camera and I did a music video set to Derrick (Mayday) May's "Strings of Life" shot on the People Mover and around Cass Tech. Around the same time I made a short documentary called "Dressed to Kill" about kids shooting and robbing each other over gym shoes and trendy clothes. That won 3rd place in a statewide film and video contest for high school students and really convinced me to take filmmaking seriously as a career.
DWIFF: What was your greatest experience in making films?
Joe D: "I had the time of my life working with John Singleton on his 'hood trilogy in Los Angeles during the 90's. Meeting people like Ice Cube, Janet Jackson and Tupac. But I'd have to say the greatest experience for me was the process of making "Akira's Hip Hop Shop." I had a great cinematographer, excellent performers, and a dedicated crew. My only regret was not being able to convince the producers to let me turn it into a feature. But then I might not have won the Directors Guild of America award which was only open to shorts, so I guess everything happens for a reason."
DWIFF: What was your worst experience in making films
Joe D: I was going to say "CornerStore" for some of the behind the scenes drama, but I have to answer none. I've done some crappy jobs on films large and small, but I always learn something from the experience. Maybe the worst was having to pick up doggy poop on the set of "Boyz in the Hood" but even that led to something good. I got to work for another few months and learn a lot about the post-production process.
DWIFF: What advice would you give to filmmakers
Joe D: Study your craft by watching films of all type. Don't play politics on the set. Work hard no matter what your position is and conduct yourself like a professional at all times. If you're in this business to make money I don't know what to tell you. There's easier ways to get rich. Love what you do and do what you love.