Writer / Director Danae Grandison recently connected with Black TV Film Crew on the eve of The Voice of A Woman Festival screening for her latest film, Unspoken. Grandison is a former Miss Jamaica USA who found her voice as a filmmaker as a result of gaining confidence through competition and being encouraged to take risks. This spirit-led woman talks with us about sharing her voice, empowering women and walking this winding path as creatives do.
What inspired you to adapt and direct Unspoken?
Unspoken is based on the book The Bed Head by Jennifer Grahame which explores the socio-economical construct of classism and the prevalence of sexual misconduct. The film gives voice to the underrepresented woman inspiring us to identify challenges and drive change.
How did you find The Bed Head?
This book was gifted to me by my Aunt for Christmas. It was the most cosmic gift she could have given me. It was as if she knew this book would inspire me to make my next film. I walked everywhere with my head buried within its pages. The Bed Head book kept saying “shoot me” through the pages and I was determined to do just that.
I made some directorial choices with Unspoken that were intentionally focused on how we experienced these two women who are victims of someone else’s doing. Despite this film is set in Jamaica, with its cultural differences, it will resonate with everyone. I want the audience to look at both of these women, their position, their voice, their power, or lack there of.
As Miss Jamaica USA, what did that experience teach you about life?
After entering that competition, I learned I needed to be willing to take more risks and put myself out there. As much as I am an outgoing person, I am not the person you would ever think would care to enter a beauty pageant. From this competition I became more confident in myself. I wasn’t afraid to be seen or afraid to be heard.
How did you become a filmmaker?
I stumbled on filmmaking by being encouraged to take a course. It was there I discovered I have a voice and its in film. After shooting my first film, Unconditional Love, I won the Audience award which only pushed me to believe I could move an audience with my work.
What career advice would you give to other women filmmakers at this time?
Be careful which door you walk through. As you take on these other roles for the set experience, do not get comfortable in those roles if that is not what you want to do because you might find yourself stuck. So carefully find your place, listen to your heart and go for “it”. I have listened and I know my passion is directing.
What do you enjoy most about being a filmmaker?
I love working with actors. I love discovering the emotion that drives the moment. I love when I read a script and I close my eyes , and see, hear, smell and be moved by it. I like being able to visually feel its pulse. I also love responding to the voices in my own head that sees stories that need to be told about experiences that are universal and transcend borders. We are living very similar experiences beyond the borders. We just don’t know how connected we really are.
To connect with Danae Grandison, please check her out at the following links:
Instagram Handle: @dir.danae
*Top photo of Danae Grandison shot by William Greenwood.*