Julian Thedford was out walking his dog with his 9-year-old brother when they witnessed a shooting on Chicago’s South Side. The terrifying moment became the basis of his short film “When I Wake,” one of several films featured in NewFilmmakers Los Angeles‘ recent festival In Focus: Black Cinema.
“Being with him in that moment was a really scary experience. Something could have happened to me, something could have happened to him,” Thedford told NFMLA interviewer Carolyn McDonald. “Dealing with that emotionally was a little challenging, so I went home and wrote a poem about it. But I’m not much of a poet at all.”
Modesty aside, he knew he had something important to express. So he shared the poem with Brianna Mottey, who used it as inspiration for the script for “When I Wake.”
The film is about a high schooler, Amiri Wright, who loses his best friend, Malachi, at the hands of a gunman. He goes through all the stages of grief. But when the identify of the gunman becomes known, Amiri and Malachi’s mutual friend Khalil sets out to get revenge. The film raises questions about the proper way to deal with loss.
Recently named one of the HBCU filmmakers of the year by the National Black Movie Association, Thedford is a recent graduate of Howard University who shot “When I Wake” with a two-person crew, self-financing the entire film. He is the film’s director, cinematographer, producer and editor. You can follow him on Instagram at @jt_shot_that.
Watch the NFMLA interview with Julian Thedford, director and producer of “When I Wake”:
“When I Wake” was part of NFMLA’s March film festival celebrating up-and-coming female talent in front of and behind the camera. The program included two shorts programs, along with award-winning filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone’s debut feature, “Mother of Color.”
The day began with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts I, a collection of films that explore motherhood, fertility, birth, and reproductive choice from a wide range of perspectives. The programming continued with the Los Angeles premiere of “Mother of Color, and the night concluded with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts II, an eclectic mix of short form work from emerging talent, whose stories explored body image, intimate relationships, work and its many struggles.
NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.
Main image: “When I Wake”
https://www.moviemaker.com/julian-thedford-when-i-wake/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=julian-thedford-when-i-wake In ‘When I Wake,’ Julian Thedford Draws Upon His Experience as a Witness to a Shooting