by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Patrick Thomas’ short film “Cut My Hair, Barber” is a powerful portrayal of a father and son relationship that is disturbing and extremely dysfunctional, yet familiar. It is a story that many single Black mothers and Black young and old men, especially, could relate to in our communities.
Some argue that in the course of a relationship, if the woman gets pregnant and if both parents have to contribute to the life of a born child, then both parents should be able to determine whether that baby is aborted. Others argue that no one has a right to a woman’s body but her, and that she makes the ultimate choice whether the baby lives or dies.
It’s an age old question put on the big screen in a genuinely unique way. The San Francisco Black Film Festival will be hosting the world premiere of “Cut My Hair, Barber” at the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year, so please go check this one out. I got a chance to interview filmmaker Patrick Thomas about his cinematic creation, “Cut My Hair, Barber.” Check it out.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about how you knew you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Patrick Thomas: I always enjoyed writing stories. My earliest childhood memory of writing stories was with my sister and my cousin. We used to write and illustrate news articles and pass them back and forth.
My desire for being a filmmaker came after watching Spike Lee films. He was the first Black person that I knew was a filmmaker. I heard about “She’s Gotta Have It” and “School Daze,” although I didn’t watch them when they first came out.
It was the thought of a Black person directing a movie that got me intrigued. Previously it never crossed my mind. After finally watching a Spike Lee film, I decided to take television production classes.
I followed Spike’s films from then on to “Malcolm X” and of course afterwards as well. During this time, I researched and discovered Melvin Van Peebles, Michael Shultz and many of the directors that followed after the Spike Lee wave. I also decided to stop my pursuit of becoming a dentist.
M.O.I. JR: What or who inspired “Cut My Hair, Barber”? The script was very well written.
Patrick Thomas: Portions of my life inspired the story. I grew up in my aunt and mother’s beauty shop “Pope and Park’s House of Style” and my family’s barber shop “Dawson and Al’s” or “The Red House.” That was the setting I wanted to capture.
The story of a boy growing up without a father and attempting to figure out how to become a man came from my relationship with my father. My father wasn’t in the household but I would visit him every other weekend. I dramatized the relationship for the sake of storytelling.
I actually had a good relationship with my father, despite not being raised in his household. I remember wishing I was around him more and wishing he would teach me more things than he did. I was fortunate enough to have older brothers to look up to and to fill in the gap.
M.O.I. JR: How long did it take you to complete the film?
Patrick Thomas: It took a very long time. I started shooting in the spring of 2014 and didn’t complete the film until this year. I still would like to correct some of the images.
M.O.I. JR: Do you plan to make this into a feature film? Why?
Patrick Thomas: That was not in my plan. I always tell people no. I want people to wonder what happened to Kwame next. What happens to Kwame and his father’s relationship next. If I made it into a feature, I would still give some closure, but I would like to leave some things open ended.
M.O.I. JR: Where else has this film screened?
Patrick Thomas: I’ve only screened it for family, friends, crew and students. This will be the first official screening of the film.
M.O.I. JR: How have single mothers and young Black men responded to this film?
Patrick Thomas: I’m not sure yet. I haven’t received much feedback from an audience yet. It will be interesting to hear back.
M.O.I. JR: What is the message that you want people to take away from “Cut My Hair, Barber”?
Patrick Thomas: Well, I would rather not say.
M.O.I. JR: How did you feel when your film was selected to screen at the San Francisco Black Film Festival?
Patrick Thomas: This is the first festival that accepted our film. I’m still in consideration for other festivals; this was the first notification date to come up since I started the submission process. I thought I would be oh so cool, because I’m somewhat of a low-key guy.
When I actually got the email, I was nervous. I hesitated for a moment because I got butterflies and that was a feeling I didn’t expect. I was excited to be recognized; then I was excited for the people that have been on this journey with me for so long.
Next, I immediately called my wife to tell her the news and she was excited and that amped me up even more. I called and told my mother next and then I called my producer. Then let the cast and crew know.
M.O.I. JR: That’s dope. How could people stay online with you and your work?
Patrick Thomas: I’m horrible at social media but I will say my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/patrick.j.thomas.3 and https://www.facebook.com/cutmyhairbarber/. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportRadio.com. The 2017 San Francisco Black Film Festival runs June 15-18; learn more at SFBFF.org.