DRE MANNING

 BRONX | DRE MANNING

BRONX | DRE MANNING

INTERVIEW: TERRELL "REALIFE" BLACK

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP, THE CULTURE?

DRE MANNING: THE FIRST TIME I GOT A WATERPROOF WALKMAN AND THE FIRST TAPE I GOT WAS “PUFF DADDY AND THE FAMILY: NO WAY OUT”. I REMEMBER LISTENING TO THAT TAPE FRONT TO BACK UNTIL IT LITERALLY POPPED AND I HAD TO REPLACE IT. IN THAT MOMENT I KNEW I WANTED TO DO MUSIC HANDS DOWN. FROM THAT POINT ON I BEGAN PRACTICING MY SKILLS BY EMULATING MY FAVORITE ARTIST AT THE TIME, MA$E.


VALIDATED: YOU STARTED OFF AS A HIP-HOP ARTIST AND TRANSITIONED INTO VIDEOGRAPHER/PHOTOGRAPHER. WHAT PROMPTED THE CHANGE?

DRE MANNING: BEFORE ANYTHING I HAVE TO CLARIFY I HATE THE TERM VIDEOGRAPHER, THIS MAY COME OFF POMPOUS AND ARROGANT BUT A VIDEOGRAPHER IS A PERSON WITH A CAMERA THAT JUST SHOOTS WITHOUT A PURPOSE. THE BEST COMPARISON I CAN GIVE IS THEY ARE THE MUMBLE RAPPERS OF THE FILMMAKING WORLD. THE TRANSITION FROM RHYMING TO FILMMAKING WAS PRETTY FLUID. I DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MUSIC. WHILE I WAS A STUDENT I WAS MAJORING IN FILM AND TELEVISION, BUT MY HEART WAS MORE FOCUSED ON MUSIC. ABOUT SEVEN YEARS AGO MY ATTENTION RETURNED BACK TO FILMMAKING BECAUSE I WANTED TO HAVE A NON-MUSIC HOBBY. SO I BEGAN WRITING LITTLE IDEAS DOWN IN MY NOTEPAD, STUDYING FILM ON YOUTUBE, BUYING BOOKS AND READING BLOGS BEFORE FINALLY BUYING A CAMERA. I SPENT TWO FULL YEARS DEVELOPING MYSELF BEFORE I EXPOSED MY SKILLS TO THE WORLD. EVENTUALLY I STEPPED AWAY FROM MUSIC FULLY BECAUSE I WANTED TO USE MY PEN IN A DIFFERENT WAY. THERE ARE A SLEW OF BLACK/AFRICAN AMERICAN RAPPERS BUT THERE ARE VERY FEW BLACK FILMMAKERS DOING IT AT A HIGH LEVEL AND I WANT IN. NOT FOR THE GLORY BUT FOR THE PEOPLE. I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR BLACK AND BROWN CHILDREN TO SEE MORE PEOPLE LIKE THEM CREATING THE FILMS THEY WATCH.


VALIDATED: THE FIRST VERSE YOU EVER WROTE, TELL ME ABOUT IT, WAS IT A SUCCESS OR A FAILURE IN YOUR OPINION? DO YOU RECALL WHAT IT WAS ABOUT?

DRE MANNING: THIS FIRST VERSE I EVER WROTE WAS FILLED WITH SO MANY WEAK PUNCHLINES. THIS WAS DURING A TIME WHEN CASSIDY WAS HOT IN THE STREETS AND EVERYONE WANTED TO EMULATE HIM AND HIS STYLE. JESUS CHRIST THOSE BARS WERE TRASH! I’M NOT EVEN MAD I LOST THE RHYME BOOK.

 

VALIDATED: DO YOU FIND IF DIFFICULT SWITCHING FROM ARTIST TO FILMMAKER AND HOW DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS DIFFER?

DRE MANNING: NOPE. ODD AS IT SOUNDS FILMMAKING AND MUSIC GO HAND AND HAND. HONESTLY 60%-70% OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE FILMMAKERS OR WORK IN FILM ALSO DO MUSIC. SO WRITING MY FIRST SCRIPT WAS A LOT BETTER THAN WRITING MY FIRST SONG. THE ART OF BEING A STORYTELLER HELPED FURTHER ME AS A SCREENWRITER. THE ART OF BEING A MUSIC PRODUCER/ENGINEER HELPED FURTHER ME AS A DIRECTOR.


VALIDATED: DO YOU HAVE ANY PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OR ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT?

DRE MANNING: THEY ONLY PROFESSIONAL TRAINING I HAVE IS FROM ME WORKING PROFESSIONALLY IN THIS FIELD, OUTSIDE OF THAT I’M SELF TAUGHT. I DID A LOT OF READING AND PRACTICE. A LOT OF PRACTICE.  


VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR CHOICE OF CAMERA(S) AND FAVORITE LENS? WHY?

DRE MANNING: THAT'S NOT AN EASY ANSWER. SO I CURRENTLY SHOOT VIDEOS ON SONY A6300 BUT THAT’S BECAUSE IT ALLOWS ME TO SHOOT IN SLOG2 (FLAT IMAGE). AT ONE POINT I OWNED A BLACKMAGIC CINEMA CAMERA 2.5K AND THAT WAS COOL. I LOVE ALL CANON CAMERAS BECAUSE OF THE CAMERAS AMAZING COLOR SCIENCE. SO IF I HAD TO SETTLE FOR ONE OF THOSE I’D GO WITH THE BLACKMAGIC URSA MINI. MY FAVORITE LENS AT THE MOMENT IS MY CANON 24-70 2.8MM LENS. THIS IS THE MOST VERSATILE LENS I HAVE IN MY KIT. IT’S FAST, I CAN USE VARIABLE FOCAL LENGTHS WITHOUT LOSING MY DEPTH OF FIELD. IF YOU’RE GOING TO OWN ANY ZOOM LENS LET IT BE THIS ONE OR THE SIGMA 24-35MM F2.


VALIDATED: WHAT ABOUT A PROJECT MAKES YOU WANT TO BRING IT TO LIFE? WHAT CERTAIN QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR BEFORE COMMITTING TO A PROJECT?

DRE MANNING: I THINK WHEN IT’S A PERSONAL PROJECT IT SPEAKS TO ME. YOU’LL ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN PROJECTS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE’S PROJECT. WHEN I TAKE ON CLIENT PROJECTS, FOR ME IT'S LESS ABOUT THE MONEY I CAN EARN AND MORE ABOUT WHO THE CLIENT IS, WHAT ARE THEIR PRINCIPALS?, HOW MUCH DO THEY VALUE ME? MY WORK? I PAY ATTENTION TO LANGUAGE THEY USE WHEN SPEAKING TO ME ABOUT THEIR PROJECTS AND THEN I’M ABLE TO MAKE A DETERMINATION OF WHETHER THIS CLIENT AND THEIR PROJECT IS SOMETHING I CAN DO OR EVEN WANT TO DO.


VALIDATED: DO YOU FEEL FILMMAKERS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO CULTURE?

DRE MANNING: FILMMAKERS HAVE THE SAME RESPONSIBILITY THAT ARTIST DO AND THAT'S TO PRESERVE IT AND CONTINUE TO TELL THE STORY OF THE CULTURE. THERE AREN’T ANY HISTORY BOOKS ON HIP-HOP BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF DOCUMENTARIES. SO YEAH WE ARE RESPONSIBLE.

VALIDATED: WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED, WHICH INFLUENCES YOUR WORK ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS?

DRE MANNING: HMMM… DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL. CREATIVES ARE SENSITIVE BUT IT'S NEVER REALLY THAT SERIOUS. JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE ARTISTIC VISION THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT’S HOW EVERYTHING SHOULD GO UNLESS ITS YOUR CONTENT.

MY INFLUENCES ARE BASED ON MY SURROUNDING. I’M INSPIRED BY MY CHILDREN, BLACK PEOPLE, MY UPBRINGING AND MORE.


VALIDATED: TELL US ABOUT OTHER VENTURES YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON.

DRE MANNING: MY MAIN VENTURE AT THIS MOMENT IS ESTABLISHING MY PRODUCTION COMPANY ASOLMANN (AH-SOUL-MAN). AT THE MOMENT I’M WRAPPING UP THE WRITING OF MY WEB SERIES “TO BE DETERMINED”. I’M ALSO IN PRE-PRODUCTION FOR MY FEATURE FILM DOCUMENTARY “YELLOW BRICK ROAD”.


VALIDATED: WHAT UP AND COMING PROJECTS CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

DRE MANNING: PLEASE KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MY WEBSERIES “TO BE DETERMINED”, MY FEATURE FILM DOCUMENTARY “YELLOW BRICK ROAD” AND WHO KNOWS MAYBE YOU MAY GET A NEW RAP ALBUM OUT OF ME. MAYBE.


VALIDATED: WHERE CAN THE READER SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA?

DRE MANNING: I ONLY HAVE AN INSTAGRAM, SO PLEASE FOLLOW ME @DRE_MANNING AND MY PRODUCTION COMPANY @ASOLMANN.

Troy Hendrickson