Khaeem Yisrael, Son of William Hart of The Grammy Award-Winning R&B Group The Delfonics Makes Films!
What is your background? Where are you initially from, and how did that journey lead you to your current position? Although I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I spent my formative years in Atlanta, Georgia. My father is William Hart of the Grammy Award-winning R&B singing group The Delfonics. After my parents parted ways, my mother moved to Atlanta in 1977. As a teen, I began my journey as a musician and music producer. I was creating music for local Atlanta area musicians and rap artists.
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker? In the summer of 1997, I went to Queens, New York, to spend time with my cousin, actress Tichina Arnold. At the time, she appeared on ABC's All, My Children. Also, I got to meet her best friend, actress Tisha Campbell, who is known for her role in the MARTIN sitcom as Gina. I hung out with Tisha while she auditioned. Having spent the summer with my cousin and her best friend, I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker. Despite playing sports (football) in high school, I quietly began studying filmmaking for years before I even picked up a camera.
Describe your primary role as a filmmaker, and what other roles within the industry do you excel at? As a filmmaker, my primary role is to tell stories. Having enjoyed writing and telling original stories as a child, I feel that the visual medium of film allows me to bring those stories to life. My goal is to become a film producer producing other people's stories.
What do you love most about filmmaking? Storytelling is my passion. The thing I love most about directing scenes is entertaining people and spending endless hours on set.
Can you tell me about what camera you use to make your films and what are your preferred brands and equipment? Why? Blackmagic Design cameras are my go-to as an independent filmmaker. My preferred brand is this one because it allows me to achieve a unique visual aesthetic without renting or buying expensive cameras.
Do you have any favorite lenses? If so, which ones? Yes, Zeiss Cinema lenses and Schneider Cine Xenon.
How can your filming style be identified? My work's film style can be characterized as "artistic cinematic." Most of my shots are achieved with a mini jib because I like its look.
What awards have you won as a filmmaker? At the 2019 Charlotte Black Film Festival, I won Best Director, Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Soundtrack for my film "Marvelous." At the 2019 Charlotte Black Film Festival, I won Best Director, Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Soundtrack for my film "Marvelous."
How many films have you produced, and what are their names? So far, I've produced two films. "Marvelous" was released in 2019; "Marvelous Southside Crew" will be released in 2022. Another movie is in pre-production.
What are the positives and negatives of working with actors as a filmmaker? The positive: Get work with talented people who can bring your story to life. The Negative: Many amateur actors don't take their craft seriously enough.
How do you efficiently resolve conflict on set? I will not tolerate discord among our cast members while on the set. I must always be surrounded by peace to be able to create.
What is the screenwriting process like for you, and what inspires you to tell the stories you tell or take on the projects you take on? I write stories about my life and experiences; they motivate me to make films. In my teens, I always dreamed of making a movie about my life. Taking on a project, I don't write myself has to resonate with things I find interesting.
What type of movies do you do? What genre are you most drawn to and why? As of now, most of my work is set in the 1970s and 1980s. Interestingly, sci-fi is my favorite genre of film.
How important is it to use our talents to be role models to our young? I feel as an artist; we can't be compelled to use our abilities or create based on being role models to anyone. Ideally, an artist must be free to express their artistry free from the confines of someone else's expectations. Regardless of what the world perceives, artists must stay true to themselves and allow the audience to interpret their art however they wish.
Would you consider yourself to be a role model to our younger generation? What is your responsibility to them? As a responsible adult and as a man. Yes. I believe my responsibility to the younger generation is to live my life as a responsible citizen and a positive, productive human being.
What moral boundaries, if any, have you set in your industry pursuits? What will you not do for fame? As far as filmmaking goes, I love what I do as a filmmaker. Money and fame are not the motivating factors that inspire me to make films or want to continue to make films. I always tell people that making films is how I want to live the rest of my life, no matter how much fame or money I get or don't get. The only moral boundary I have is that I will not do anything that will interfere with or jeopardize my enjoyment and love for making films.
What's your dream? My dream is to one day make an Epic film about Ancient Egypt.
What is the goal you want to reach in this industry? I want to own my own multi-million-dollar film Studio.
I would like to know what your ultimate dream film would be? I want to make a film about ancient Egypt with a budget of 100 million dollars.
What are some of the struggles that you've had to overcome as a filmmaker? The same struggles as most independent filmmakers, never having enough money to make the films you want to make and how you want to make them.
Now that we've discussed struggles let's talk about the opposite. What are some of your high points in your journey so far? The highest point on my journey was the Charlotte Black Film Festival in 2019. I was happy to have been selected, but to my surprise, my film "Marvelous" won in every major category.
Do you see yourself being a filmmaker for the rest of your life? Yes. I most definitely see myself being a filmmaker for the rest of my life.
What does a typical day of the life of a filmmaker look like? A typical day for me as a filmmaker involves constant communication with my Screenwriters and Producers.
In short, what process do you go through to make a film? Writing the script, Casting calls and auditions, Table reads and rehearsals, and Principal Photography.
How difficult is it to rally up a budget for filming? I usually finance my films, so it's not too difficult.
What was the wildest experience you've ever had on set while filming? I haven't had a tumultuous experience that I can think of yet, but I am sure there will be more extraordinary experiences to come in the future.
What was the most embarrassing experience while filming on set? Once, we were shooting at around 4 in the morning, and everyone was waiting on me to say action, but I had fallen asleep. (laughs)
What are your plans regarding your filmmaking career? What's next for you? I intend to continue creating films, regardless of whether they are independent or not. I always look forward to working on my next film project. Like a child looking forward to Christmas, I am excited about my next film project.
What new films do you have, and where can they be seen? I recently just finished my last film project, which is made for a tv film called " Marvelous Southside Crew"; it's a film set in the 1980s about four teens from Atlanta growing up during the hip hop era. It hasn't been released yet, but it has already been selected for the 2022 San Francisco Black Film Festival.
How would you advise someone just starting in the movie industry? Take the time to study the craft of filmmaking if you genuinely love it and respect it.
All Photos are the exclusive property of Khaeem and Khaeem Entertainment Films.
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