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Rel Dowdell discusses his new film ‘Changing the Game’

Kam Williams | 7/11/2012, 10:54 a.m.
Rel Dowdell discusses his new film ‘Changing the Game’ Kam Williams ...
Screenwriter Rel Dowdell Rel Dowdell

Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

On a date, would I ever bungee jump, hang glide or go sky diving? The answer is a resounding “no!”

Are you ever afraid?

Definitely. Afraid of not trying.

Are you happy?

Definitely. For my family to see me reach my lifelong goal of making films after sacrificing so much of their own personal resources and time to get me to this point gives me a feeling of tremendous elation and satisfaction.

When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Someone sent me a Youtube clip of a news reporter from Augusta who had perfect speech and diction in his report until a fly flew into his mouth. After that, the dude turned straight hood yelling every expletive in the book. That was one funny clip. I still watch it from time to time.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

 Watching marathons of “Unsung” on TV One.  

What was the last book you read?

“Words of Wisdom” by Reverend Run. I was a big “Run’s House” fan when it was on TV.

What music have you been listening to lately?  

 “When You’re Near” by Guru from Jazzmatazz, Volume 1, and “Buck ‘em Down” by Black Moon. Classics!

What is your favorite dish to cook?

I can’t cook very well! But I try, and usually burn something new every day.

What excites you?

Hoping one day African Americans will pull together in the film industry like The Harlem Renaissance did back in the day, and help create opportunities for one another.

There’s room for everyone to succeed if more of us would just give back. Fortunately, there are now some prominent African Americans in the industry trying do such things. Small risks can often pay big rewards.

What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?

The best business decision I made was to learn the craft of screenwriting and filmmaking in an academic environment because you need to learn all the nuances of the craft before embarking on making a film, especially an independent one where the margin of error is magnified exponentially.

If you don’t learn the proper way to make films early, you’ll pay for that mistake later on when opportunity comes. The worst business decision I made was not signing a back-end deal on my first film, “Train Ride.” That film made a killing on DVD and rentals. The filmmaker should be rewarded for his or her efforts, which I was not.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Someone who never gives up.

If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

My back end money for “Train Ride.” “Show me the money!” like Rod Tidwell said in “Jerry Maguire.”

What is your earliest childhood memory?

One of my uncles couldn’t believe I could read at a very young age, so he pulled out a love letter he wrote to a girlfriend thinking I couldn’t read it. When I started to read it and got to the good parts, he snatched it away.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Probably a dolphin, because they can plan ahead and communicate in very efficient ways.

What key quality do you believe all successful people share?  

Perseverance.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Learn the craft of filmmaking like it’s a science, not a hobby. Take it very seriously. Know that others that paved the way before you have done it better than you and give them respect. When you do that, you can create your own voice.

How do you want to be remembered?

As a filmmaker who wasn’t afraid to take risks, combine genres and look at the African American experience in film not just as the African American experience, but as the human experience.