Okayplayer: “Fair Use Vol. 1” does a lot of things well, but one of the things it has done most well, to me, is show the diversity in blackness. What do you think is the function of displaying a diverse set of ways blackness can exist?
Mark Anthony Green: I don’t think I really understood the depths of blackness’s diversity until I went to Morehouse, which is kind of ironic, considering it’s an all-black, all-male school where everyone is relatively the same age. But it was just as diverse as any college or university. I think it’s important to celebrate blackness—all blackness. So, though it may seem like there’s a universe between Juvenile‘s “Back That Ass Up”and Stokely Carmichael talking about white liberals, there really isn’t. It’s all black. And it’s all important.
OKP: The reoccurring clip of James Brown’s interview was a continuous thread throughout the film. When asked the cause of “all of this trouble,” he sings “living in America.” I took this as a more global and political statement. I am curious, in your imagination, on a more personal and intimate level, what is troubling you?
MAG: Well, I’m not stoked about [Donald] Trump. And by not stoked I mean depressed, infuriated and terrified. So, I’d start there [laughs]. I don’t know, man. I didn’t really want to focus on the negative stuff. I started making this in April—it released in November. I wanted to make something that made people—all people, black, white, orange—proud. I’m so proud to be a black man, “Living in America,” but it’s tough sometimes. Folks like Bill O’Reilly don’t make it easy. Nor do people like Clarence Thomas. So, it’s complicated, but it’s beautiful. And I really hope I did that—make something that highlights exactly how beautiful black America is.
OKP: The film reminded me of visual essays of the late ’80s and early ’90s by people like Essex Hemphill and Marlon Riggs. Who were your inspirations while putting together this project?
MAG: That’s such a compliment. Honestly, I’m inspired by the people around me the most. My business partner, Warren; my girlfriend Sinead, the boys I coach in basketball; my mother who is tiny and militant and pretty awesome. When something bad happens, say the millionth police shooting this year, they’re the first people I talk to. So when I make anything, it’s them I’m thinking about.
OKP: I described the film as a black psychedelic pill, an ebony-version of a DMT trip. What was your hope for the film as you were creating it and what was your hope for the film as you saw it to completion?