The Brooklyn 100: Terence Nance, Filmmaker


Nance’s 2012 feature debut An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, a diaristic love story told partly with handmade animation, announced him as a protean talent. His recent music videos and shorts (check out: Worry No. 473 of 1000 Worries That a Black Person Should Not Have to Worry About and You and I and You) reveal an engaged filmmaker capable of synthesizing contemporary pop-culture vernaculars at the speed of thought. People will be watching his stuff to get inspired for years to come.

What’s your favorite place in Brooklyn to go to the movies?

Court St. for a bad studio movie or a Kevin Hart movie I can talk through out loud with the audience.

BAM Harvey for any serious watching of classics or future classics.

BAM Rose for the weekly upkeep of staying abreast of faux-indie film.

What are some films you’ve watched that you can point to and say, “That’s my New York”—films where what’s on-screen (visually, culturally, thematically) resonates with your experience of life in the city?

Wow. Strangely the Basquiat biopic and Downtown 81. When I saw them I had just moved here and had already learned the vice of self-mythologizing. Sometimes when watching Girls or any Noah Bambauch movie I become aware that I’m watching a Brooklyn that I’m not a part of at all but that exists just around the corner. I then realize that if I was so inclined I could observe this über-white BK, like i was on safari, I’d probably wear the hat and everything.

The sad truth is that the NYC I know hasn’t been put on film. This is a rough and dangerous approximation but to oversimplify it, I’m living in the millennial version of what Spike put on film in She’s Gotta Have It and Do The Right Thing. That said, my generation of Black and Black-ish New Yorkers have yet to make our statement in cinema (that I’m aware of).

In what ways is living in Brooklyn a benefit to a career in and around the arts? In what ways is it a drawback?

Let’s start with the drawback…

  • It’s COMPLETELY unaffordable if you don’t have wealthy parents which most people I know don’t have.
  • Living in a Black community that is being rapidly gentrified is a to be in the midst of a violent act of colonization that wages psychological warfare on myself and my community.
  • Last but not least there aren’t many opportunities for writer/directors to be paid a living wage to practice their craft in NYC.

The benefit is that it’s an inspiring place culturally and that inspiration is wrapped up in the people and their proximity to each other. The pace of social/spiritual interaction is lightning fast. Connections are immediate and breathe into you a sort of chaotic and curious vitality that is difficult to find anywhere else in America.

Who are some Brooklyn-based filmmakers our readers should be paying more attention to?

Chanelle Pearson, Nikyatu Jusu, Darius Clarke-Monroe, Josephine Decker, Zoe Munlyn, Nia Ashley, Naima Ramos-Chapman, Blitz the Ambassador, Yvonne Shirley, Mike Brown, Talibah Newman, Tim Sutton, Jeremiah Zaeger, Dee Res, Natalie Paul, Sterling Milan, JaTovia Gary, Frances Bodomo, Stefani Saintonge.

What are you working on right now?

A movie about the near future. A world in which the government charges people for access to natural resources they used to get for free.

Around Brooklyn

See More