The Root: Why did you make Love Jones as such an atypical love story?
Theodore Witcher: I wanted to do something that was closer to my dating experience — there was a lot of game playing. Also, I was a part of a similar world in Chicago in the early ’90s and thought it was an interesting backdrop on which to paint this young romantic story.
The movie’s look came through a confluence of ideas by myself and my team, and the month we shot was the wettest Chicago had seen in years. Rain was written into the script, but then every other day was raining so, out of my control, the movie ended up looking like Seven.
TR: What was your experience as a first-time director?
TW: The first day, my line producer and I were riding to set and he said, “Are you ready to have 100,000 volts wired to your testicles?” Turns out directing is more like having 100,000 paper cuts slowly bleed you to death. You’re never prepared to be a first-time director, particularly on an aggressive schedule of 35 days. Maybe this changes as you go on — I only directed one movie — but you never feel like you get out in front of the train, and by the end, the train was running over me.
TR: Is that why you seemed to disappear after Love Jones?
TW: No. I intended to have a long list of credits, but I couldn’t get another movie. There has to be something that you want to do that a studio wants to pay for. I was never able to sync that up. I wanted to do ambitious films with more black people. You don’t get to do that.